Friday, November 24, 2006

'Valiant' by Holly Black


ISBN: 0689868235
Format: Paperback, 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Price: $7.99

I am a believer in reading everything you can get your hands on - everything from Literature to bargain rack crap. In between all that I come across some teen fiction once in awhile. One of my favorite authors in the genre is Holly Black. Valiant is her second novel. Her first was Tithe, and both are now fast favorites.

Valerie Russell runs away from home to New York after she finds her mother making out with her boyfriend. Heartbroken and lost, she wanders the city until she is found by three teenagers living on the street - Dave, Luis, and Lolli. Lolli takes Val under her wing, taking her to their underground squat, inviting her to stay with them even though Luis warns against it.

But Val’s new friends survive better than most on the streets and in a more unusual way. New York is full of exiled faeries from the Seelie and Unseelie courts, light and dark of the faerie kingdoms. Ravus is a troll who mixes a drug to keep the iron from killing the faeries living in exile. All over the city faeries are dying and many believe it is because of Ravus. Luis acts as a courier for him with occasional help from Dave but the faeries are becoming suspicious of the humans.

Lolli shows Val that the amber sand does more than just protect the faeries. Lolli and the others call it Nevermore and it gives humans the ability to use glamour as the faeries do. The drug has rules: never take it more than once a day, and never more than just a pinch, but Lolli has very little self-control.

Val and Lolli decide to find the troll that Luis deals with. They travel through the labyrinth of subway tunnels until Lolli points to an opening in the wall; through this they find Ravus’ home. Lolli immediately starts to shove things into her bag as Val looks around the room. Her eyes are drawn to a beautiful sword made of glass. Ravus comes home to find them among his things. Val runs but as soon as she realizes that Lolli has be left behind she returns to fight for her friend.

Val strikes a bargain with Ravus: in return for Lolli she will serve Ravus a week for each item that was shoved into Lolli’s backpack. Val is charged to deliver the Nevermore to the faeries that are waiting for it. When Val finds a dead mermaid, Ravus is blamed and attacked by some of the exiled faeries. Val stands up for him, proving herself to be more than just a human - she a valiant human. Ravus looks at her and really sees her for the first time. It‘s a great moment in the book.

Being that faeries are involved — and we all know faeries are tricky — this isn’t the end. The path that leads them all to the end is full of diversions and traps. Val and Ravus must negotiate each to reach the end successfully, as well as whole. Valiant is a book you don’t want to miss. I waited until it came out in paperback to buy it but now that I’ve read it I’ll have to pick up a hardback copy as well. It is more than worth the price.

1 comment:

T.C. said...

Oh, this sounds very interesting. Adding it to my list!