Published: 1 April 2004 by Simon Pulse
Format: Ebook, 332 pages
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Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries!
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms - a struggle that could very well mean her death.
Having loved The Darkest Part of the Forest, I was expecting something surreal and creepy from Tithe. While it delivered on those fronts, it also felt confused and half-hearted.
Tithe took a long time to begin. The first part of the novel felt disjointed and slow. It may have been a reflection of just how not-normal Kaye was, but it didn’t feel well executed and detracted from my enjoyment. Plus, there’s a dream-like quality in the novel that holds the reader at bay from the action (maybe because Kaye feels so removed from the real world). The pacing is choppy, further hindering efforts to fully connect to the characters and events. Many things don’t make sense, and when they do, the knowledge feels unsatisfying.
Kaye and her friends are modern, edgy teens who drink, smoke, swear and shoplift. They’re utterly forgettable, however (to the extent that Kay herself seemed to forget about them for long stretches of time), and didn’t seem to lend much to the story except to be collateral damage. Roiben stole the show, not necessarily because he was well-written but because he had a personality. Kaye spent half the novel not sure if she wanted to kiss Roiben or kill him, which could’ve been interesting but this plot-line was let down by poor execution.
I was also disappointed in how dense Kaye was. She didn’t think about the consequences of any of her actions, displayed no critical thinking whatsoever, and was constantly surprised by the obvious. Most of the twists in the novel were only possible because the main character couldn’t rub her three brain cells together.
The real strength of this novel is its worldbuilding. The world of the fae is beautifully painted — it’s just the right balance of beautiful and creepy.
I’ve had Tithe on my to-be-read pile for a long time so I’m glad I finally gave it a go. It wasn’t as entertaining or enchanting as I was hoping but Roiben was interesting enough to keep me hooked until the end. I’m not sure I’ll be continuing the series, but as Valiant follows an entirely new cast of characters I might pick it up one day.