Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on September 3rd 2013
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 419 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Holly Black’s interpretation of vampires. Need I say more? I love the magical work that is the writing of Holly Black (Spiderwick is dear to my heart) and this read was no different. It was enticing to say the least, the kind of lure you feel to something taboo. You know you shouldn’t, but you really want to. The characters are decent, the plot is solid, and the expressive setting completes this wicked novel. I’d definitely recommend it.

When I discovered that this book was about vampires, I was hesitant to pick it up. While I adore supernatural creatures, vampire (and werewolf) stories are a big hit and miss with me. I’m very happy to reveal that I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book!

The story is set in modern times, but in this dark era, vampires run the world. Quarantines called Coldtowns are set up to control the vampire population, as well as all infected humans. Once you enter though, there is no way out. Unlike the typical vampire lore I know of, in this world, you are able to sweat out the infection, lest you drink blood. I found that idea refreshing.

I really liked the characters and feel like the characters, and the relationships between them, were very well developed. Tana, the main character, has a bad history with vampires. Her mother had turned Cold (infected) and while being quarantined in the family’s basement, ten-year-old Tana let her out. Bloodthirsty, she took a bite right out of Tana’s arm. Her father to the rescue, hacked off her head. Ever since, her father had been taking care of her and her younger sister alone.

When she wakes up one morning after a party, she discovers herself at the end of a bloody feast. The corpses of her classmates are scattered around her, sucked dry. In hysterics, she then encounters the only survivors of this massacre: her infuriating ex-boyfriend and an unknown vampire, both tied up. Despite her traumatic experience, and that Aidan was infected, she helps them BOTH escape. I didn’t particularly think this was a good decision, but looking back at it, I think it gave us a bit more insight about who Tana is. I think that although she knew that vampires were dangerous, she was still extremely curious about them; admired even. With her recurring dream about her mother, and her attraction to Gavriel, she involuntarily uncovers her true feelings about these creatures.

Gavriel is probably one of my favourite characters. He’s got that overrated sexy, mysterious, brooding aura about him, but considering that he’s ages old, I think he totally owns it. He speaks very poetically, which I believe is why one of the reasons why Tana is so attracted to him. Her dreams of her mother depict her as faerie-like; magical and fantastical. Gavriel represents everything she wishes to believe about the monsters everyone made the vampires out to be.

The trio journeys to Coldtown, acquainting themselves with twins, Midnight and Winter (born Jennifer and Jack). They were described with blue hair, and dressed in goth/punk like clothing. The two of them craved to become vampires, and had decided to run away to Coldtown. I didn’t really like Midnight. Her fearlessness, fascination, and general attitude towards death was just a bit disturbing. Winter, the loving brother who’d do anything for his sister, seemed a bit more restrained in character. The two oddities didn’t add anything but an interesting edge to the story, but I found myself captivated by them anyway.

This spin on vampires, defining them as these glamorous, forbidden beasts, created this sinister yet sparkling atmosphere. I think it’s rather unique and loved being submersed in it. This book left me skin cold and blood warm, but thrilling, and edge-of-your-seat? I don’t know about that. The story wasn’t as chilling as it was heavy, if that makes any sense. It felt as if every moment in the book left a rock in my chest; pushing the confines until it broke. Holly Black is an amazing writer, and her style of writing is enchanting.

To conclude, this is a good read for those who enjoy vampire stories, and can tolerate a bit of darkness. Let me know what you think in the comments! Read on.

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