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Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownBefore I picked up The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I’d read some of the professional reviews and a couple of recs/reviews from YA authors and everything was a glowing review. But I was having trouble getting myself enthused for yet another vampire novel. I mean, it’s not like there’s anything new to be written in the vampire genre. And yet, there was something about the book (maybe just the title) that was pulling me in a little. And so when I was doing a little work in the YA collection and saw the book on the shelf, I figured, why not give it a try.

I got caught up in the novel almost as soon as I started reading it. Sure, it sat on the kitchen table for a week or two, but when I finally got to it, it was extremely hard to put down. I’ve been a fan of Holly Black’s writing for a while. I liked her other two YA series, The Curse Workers is one of my favorite YA series ever written (I highly recommend the audio books, which are read by Jesse Eisenberg — he is phenomenal and it’s as if the main character of that series was made for him to read). And since I like her writing, I figured that the book couldn’t be all bad. So I wasn’t surprised when it pulled me right in. What did surprise me was how much I really liked the story and the characters.

In some ways, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is like every other vampire novel — there are vampires and there are people who want to be vampires and there are girls and boys who are in love with the idea of vampires. But Black does something a little different. She embraces all of the myths surrounding vampires and twists it on it’s head. The Coldtown of the title is where vampires, those who are becoming vampires and those who want to be vampires live. Going cold means you’re on your way to become a vampire — you literally get cold as part of the process.

The main character of the novel is Tana, though vampires as a whole (and some specific ones) do play significant roles. Tana has a complicated backstory, which allows Black to explain the history of Coldtown(s) (there are multiple ones, I won’t bore you with the details, you can get that out of the novel and it’s far more interesting reading than I can do) and how vampirism spread, along with how it’s become part of popular culture (I don’t think she’s doing a commentary on current popular culture, but it is rather amusing). We follow Tana as she wakes up after a party to find herself surrounded by dead bodies — but she herself is not dead. She escapes, with her newly turned exboyfriend and a full-fledged vampire.

The novel spends a fair amount of time talking at us, which isn’t bad, because the world Black has created is quite interesting. We meet with several different characters along the way, a few of which result in some interesting choices that Tana has to make. The climax of the book takes place at a party (purposeful irony, I expect) and the ending we get is satisfactory. I believe there’s going to be a sequel next year, which is good because I want to spend more time with Tana and her world. But even if there was never going to be another book, I left feeling completely satisfied.

If you like a good vampire tale, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is for you. If you like YA, you’ll probably enjoy this (the romance is pretty good, but not overpowering, there are a ton of kick ass lady characters and as I staid before, the world-building is excellent). Adults might get a kick out of it as well — especially since Black herself describes the novel as a love story to vampire novels of the past (distant and not-so-distant).  It really is a great vampire love story and I’m sold.

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