Originally posted on Saturday, 03 May 2014 at ROPL.org.
By Holly Black
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian
Do you like vampire books? Or maybe you hate them. Maybe you’re looking for something different. Something darker with a hero you can really identify with. Holly Black has exactly the sort of vampire book you’re looking for. It’s darker than you’d expect, but it’s also got a tenderness that’s almost as surprising to the reader as it is to the characters.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is not just about vampires (but then, what vampire novel truly is). Instead, it’s love story to all those vampire books of yesteryear. We’re talking the Anne Rice vampires mixed with the Draculas. The dark, creepy vampires you don’t find in teen dramas or on TV. These vampires are mean and they’re cold and they’re literally out for blood. If that sounds like a lot, it is.
The novel follows our hero, Tana. She wakes up in the middle of a massacre and the last thing she remembers is that she was at a party, with a lot of the living and none of the dead. She finds the only people alive are herself and her ex-boyfriend, tied to a bed because he’s been bitten. Only he’s not a vampire – yet. But she also finds another vampire and she does the only logical thing, she frees him. Because the three of them are going to Coldtown – the quarantine area for vampires, the recently bitten and those who (for whatever reason) want to be with those vampires.
Black’s novel explores what it means to be human, to have a family and if it’s really a good idea to hide from what scares us the most. Tana has to fight all of her demons, real and imagined, to survive. Black gives Tana choices that no one should have to make and Tana, much to her credit as a character, is as real as they come in a world that’s not real at all.
If you only read one teen vampire book, make it The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Don’t worry, there’s romance, but it’s not what you’d expect. And while the novel stands strong enough by itself, and Black does a good job of tying up loose ends (in a non-predictable sort of way), I wouldn’t complain if she decides to write more in this world. It’s worth exploring.