Bowel trembling fear and courage in the face of things with pointy teeth.
No. of pages: 419
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 revelled in this book. It felt a little long in parts, but enjoyed the world and Tana (our protagonist) battling her way through an infected continent to find her place within it. Nearly passing over this title because of the vampire element – there are so many books out there after the release of a certain sparkly vampire novel that glutted the market with second rate storytelling – but The Coldest Girl in Coldtown delivers a high calibre read.
Many of the characters surprised me, as in fact, did Tana herself. It was a personal story and narrative, and not one of those ‘chosen one here to save the world from some great apocalypse.’ Tana is raw and gritty from the get-go, following her gut instincts whether it put her at physical risk or not. You get to experience her journey as the goal posts keep moving and she gains more and more confidence over her choices. She possesses an understated beauty in her strength.
Half of the cast were not all they seemed to be and deviated between light and dark, good and bad – you won’t find any two dimensional characters here… and that would be difficult anyway with the fascination Tana’s world has with vampires (true or contextual). And the whole novel jumps that line continuously, between actual and constructed images of the Children of the Night and Coldtowns. The true vampire mythology lurks somewhere in the shadows where you can only get glimpses when you get too close. Buy by then it’s too late. You’re someone’s dinner.
The tone is deliciously dark, without being bleak or horrific, you still get a young adult feel and irony throughout, which I have to praise Holy Black for – it was such a unique experience for me.
Although this was a little of a staggered read – I feel if the writing were tightened up to remove superfluous exposition, the pace and tension could’ve been elevated to make this a truly outstanding read. I would say the overall plot was predictable(ish), but there were many nuances that came out of nowhere. There are so many elements that make this a great novel, but it fell a little short for me with the pace and writing style.
It is something I’d recommend, but only to those who like a more morbid tone, a touch of horror and vampire enthusiasts alike.
Overall feeling: Fun/disturbing
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