Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie - Holly Black

Holly Black's Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie comes with an Adult Content warning (on the back - although I felt it should be on the front !).

17 year old Valerie Russell runs away to New York City, to try to escape from her boyfriend and her mother's joint betrayal of her (her mother and her boyfriend have been sleeping together). She shaves her head and falls in with a gang of young squatters who live in the city's extensive subway system. Her friends are a bit strange, though: Lolli talks of there being monsters in the subway tunnels they call home and shoots up a shimmery amber-coloured powder that makes the shadows around her dance. Her friend, Luis claims that he can make deals with creatures that no one else can see - faeries. And Luis's brother, Dave, makes the mistake of allowing Val to tag along as he makes a delivery to a woman who turns out to have goat hooves rather than feet. When a bewildered Val allows Lolli to talk her into tracking down the hidden lair of the creature for whom Luis and Dave have been working, Val finds herself bound into service by a troll named Ravus. He is as hideous as he is honourable, yet as Val grows to know him she finds herself feeling affection for him.

Even before Val runs away from home, she's hardly a model student: she's thrown off the lacrosse team for punch the captain on the same day she discovers what her mother and her boyfriend have been doing. Although, to be fair, she has a dysfunctional family (even leaving aside those shenanigans) - her mother and father are divorced, and her father has a new partner. Val seems to rely a great deal on the friendship of Ruth, her lesbian best friend who comes to New York looking for Val when she doesn't answer any of Ruth's calls or text messages.

Valiant (Dave's nickname for Val at their first meeting) is a very modern version of Beauty and the Beast; it contains not only a great many references to sex, drugs and stealing, but also references to cellphones and computer games (such as Final Fantasy).


Anonymous said...

Did you like it? I can't really tell from what you say (I suspect not... much) It sounds like it might have been quite effective, or... not?

Michele said...

That's probably because I had quite mixed feelings about it ! The sex/drugs/stealing was rather off-putting - but Val's development into an even-more-feisty and self-sufficient young woman seemed (to me) to be realistically done. On the whole, I guess I did like it - but I'm not sure I'd read it again... That said, it's not put me off the author - I'm certainly interested in reading her "Spiderwick Chronicles" in due course (have to get the TBR that's accumulated from reading The Wand in the Word down a bit first though !)