Book Review: Valiant by Holly Black


I picked up Valiant by Holly Black while I waited for my “on order” library books to come in.  Seldom do I find anything on the fly that I am interested in reading in the YA section at the very small library by my house.  Something made me pick this up.  Now I know what it was. Divine intervention.

I had Valiant in my hand and I almost put it back because of two things.  1) the cover didn’t seem all that appealing to me (yeah, sometimes I fall for the whole marketing trap of the mysterious/interesting covers – which although it has proven to be a mistake in the past, I can’t quiet shake it.)  Valiant’s book cover is a sword…so yeah…no.  It didn’t look appealing to me.  And 2) the title Valiant just seemed…a little historical fiction for me – and I do like historical fiction…just not with faeries – which is what Valiant is about.  A modern faerie tale.

Boy, was I wrong in judging this book by its cover.

As soon as I started reading it, there was already major conflict just within the first few pages.  The main character’s name is Val (hence Valiant!) and she comes home to find her punk boyfriend (complete with Mohawk) making out with her mother! Val goes nuts, runs away to New York City and there she finds two of the coolest characters anyone has ever written – Sketchy Dave and Lollipop.

Holly Black takes us into a world of New York teen age runaways who live in subways and are hooked to a faerie drug they coin Nevermore (“Nevermore than one a day, Nevermore than a pinch at a time, and Never more than two days in a row”.) The drug, which they shoot up just like heroin junkies, gives them magical powers, while it slowly destroys them.  Val, the main character, begins to fall in love with the troll who supplies them with the drug.

I love this book.  Loved it. Can’t say it enough.  Loved it!  Not only because Holly Black (who has quickly jumped to my number one YA author on my list), gives us an array of amazing characters, plot and story, but she has reinvented the faerie in a very cool, edgy, dark and modern way.  I  love to see writers stretching their imaginations, taking that same urban fantasy character and turning it into something even more surreal but real. Like magic realism.

Holly’s first book, Tithe: A modern day faerie tale, was selected as 2002 Best Book for Young Adults. She is a New York Times Best Seller, and I am so happy to have run into her book! I am now stalking her new book which is due to come out any minute, White Cat. Ms. Black is going to be in Florida in May and I am hoping to catch her at her book signing.

By far, Valiant is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. Without a doubt.  I give Valiant a “solid ten” magic wands.

To learn more about Holly Black click here