Friday, January 3, 2014

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black {website} 
Publication Date: September 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source & Format:  Library; hardcover
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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.

I think most of us have a love/hate relationship with vampires thanks to Twilight (or whatever pop culture vampire currently drives you batty. Haha. Batty. ...Ahem, sorry). I didn't know quite what to expect when I opened Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, except I knew it had stunning reviews and a gorgeous/slightly creepy cover. I fell in love with the novel before the first chapter was done. 


Tana's character was one of the more fascinating ones in the novel (and the book is chock full of them). The mix of tough girl exterior, innocent vulnerability, and her haunting past make an intriguing and complex young girl who doesn't think twice about venturing through the gates of the Springfield Coldtown. Her history really shapes who she is, psychologically and physically. I loved watching how she adjusted to different situations, worked them out in her head, and occasionally came up with a completely different answer than what I would have expected. 

Gavriel, the mysterious boy with a dangerous secret from the book blurb, is my new favorite vampire after Dracula. His quiet, subtle manipulation and his strange kindness to Tana create this mystique about him that makes it impossible to ignore when he's on the scene. His secret, which slowly comes out in the novel, is one of the most fascinating elements to the plot and creates within Gavriel a whole new character.

I admit, I loved the strange romance that evolved between the two of them. It was oddly endearing and gave the already fascinating novel a little spice.


I loved Black's fascinating take on vampire lore. It fit her novel's premise perfectly, and when Tana finally gets to the Coldtowns, it adds more mystery and tension to the plot. To be honest, if the vampire lore had fit the characteristics of another vampire story exactly, it would have distracted me from her novel. I loved her unique take!

The book blurb hints a little at a love triangle in this book, but the little romance in this book is only between two. Normally, I'm a big fan of romance in novels, but in this case, the side plot fit it perfectly. The main story focused on Tana's motivation to find what she needed in Coldtown and get out before she becomes infected and Gavriel's dark secret, which continues to evolve in the story.

Gavriel's secret is like the secret ingredient to the story; it's what makes it wonderful. When the narration begins to switch to his past, I became so engaged that I couldn't have heard you talking if you were right next to me.


Black's writing is the best of the best in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. It's smooth, flawless, and essentially invisible, transporting from the page to a unique world with a hint of post-apocalyptic. Even in the chapters that transported time and space, Blacks' writing was smooth and consistent.  


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a fascinating take on the familiar vampire, unique in its own right. I loved the choices that Black made, and I will be definitely looking for more of her work. 

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