Saturday, February 5, 2011

Holly Black- Valiant

Valiant (Book 2) –quick note although this is a second book it can definitely be read alone. A young adult fantasy novel. 
Book two follows a period in the life of Valerie (Val) Russell in New York. She is a senior in high school and her world as she knows it has just fallen apart. She gets kicked off the lacrosse team for defending her best friend Ruth, who is an eccentric lesbian. She discovers that her mother and her boyfriend Tom are having an affair when she walks in on them together and that Ruth has known about the affair for weeks never telling her. She heads into the City of New York and finds she just can’t go home and has nowhere to go. She is befriended by a trio of homeless teenagers, Dave and Luis (Dave’s older brother) and Lolli. Luis is a true seer and sees the faeries as they truly are without out the glamour used to fit in topside. He lives in almost constant fear of the faeries as he was blinded in one eye when he was very young by a Faerie when he realized Luis could see through the glamour as they truly were.
Besides being introduced to the grittier part of living in the streets, she is also introduced to Dave and Luis’s lives of being “messengers” for Ravus, a young Troll (who yes lives under, actually in, a bridge), to the fairies living in exile topside in Ironside. Ravus is a healer and makes medicine “Never” used by the exiled faeries to help ease their sickness to iron. Dave and Lolli get Val to use “Never” (they refer to it as Nevermore - never more than once a day, never more than two days in a row...of course they don't follow their own rules) and learn when used by humans it is a potent drug (think heroin) and you can perform magic for a short period of time and that it is highly addictive. Val ends up a messenger for Ravus and shortly thereafter he starts teaching Val how to use a sword and friendship and bonding develop. While eraning his trust and friendship she allows herself to go deeper into her addiction.
The Faeries in exile are being poisoned and the common thread is Ravus’s medicine and he is framed for the murders. Val discovers who is framing Ravus but in the process exposes herself as a user of “Never” which she had been stealing from Ravus during deliveries thereby breaking his trust. Val faces many challenges which leads her, with help, to the Unseelie Court to face a first-blood dual, save a life or two, admit her love for Ravus and facing her drug addictions.
My thoughts: First off I enjoyed this book in a weird bizarre way; I didn’t love it but enjoyed it. This book gives a deeper insight into the faeries and their deceptions and their qualities and brings in a cast of characters who meld in with the first cast in book three. It’s a nice bridge to the third book. Now about the is riddled with darkness and I mean darkness! The grittiness, the grime, the language, the life and sadly the addictions are very real and I can see how many would not like it as they read to get away from "life". But it held enough fantasy for me to keep going and a taste or hints of a budding relationships, world building and character building. The writing was ok. It followed a lot of stereotypes which I felt was for an edgy book the author could have been a little more creative and taken some bigger chances. Over all it is a quick fair read that was strangely alluring.
Laura- Guest blogger


  1. I would so read this is not for that darn YA thingy

  2. LT as I wrote this I kept rehashing our many battles supporting Phury and our love for him!