Quick Review: THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black (Little, Brown)

BlackH-ColdestGirlInColdtownAn interesting, very good take on vampires

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

I’m going to keep this review very short – not because I think the novel doesn’t deserve a mention, but because my thoughts can be summed up quite succinctly (for a change). It’s a very good novel, I must say. Not perfect, but very strong and among the best and most interesting vampire novels released in recent years.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is the first book by Holly Black that I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. Her prose is great, and her characters are interesting and varied, and engaging tour guides of the world she has created. The book offers a really interesting take on vampires in modern society – rather than being hidden predators of the night, they are ‘out’. The novel takes a look at a number of vampire fiction conventions – from the romanticism of vampirism and how this can lead the impressionable, perhaps lost and dispossessed to pursue it; the duality of the fascination with vampirism (horror and allure). The mechanics of vampirism are pretty interesting here, too. The story also looks at the effect of our social media/internet-obsessed age and youth, and how that might develop in relation to knowledge of vampires. After reading the novel, I found this interview with Publishers Weekly, in which the author says she’s a fan of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles – you can certainly see an influence, there, but I think Black has done a really interesting job of taking a look at the romanticism of Rice’s novels and examining humans’ responses to the aforementioned allure of vampires. It’s really well done.

I think my only niggle with the novel was that it didn’t move quite as smoothly/quickly as I would have liked. There were a couple of sections that tripped up the momentum. Minor concerns, though. Ultimately, this is a very good addition to the ever-growing body of vampire literature available. Certainly, it’s better than a considerable majority of what’s available today.

Recommended for all fans of horror, coming-of-age stories, and just good storytelling. I’m going to have to pick up some more of Black’s novels. Any recommendations?

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