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.
Let me start by saying, although I want to own this book badly, I am currently trying to be fiscally responsible and keep my book purchases to a minimum (mat leave and all), thus if it can be had from the library, then a library read it shall be. There is one fatal flaw in this, which is the amount of time I have to wait for some of these books. Honestly, how slowly do you read people??! However, through some incredible oversight of the borrowers of Toronto Public Library, I managed to get my hands on one of the first copies of this fantastic book with no waiting. Truly it was a Giving me the Creeps October miracle. There are now 32 holds on it, which is still slim considering how phenomenal this books is, so lets make this a PSA to all library goers that they need to put a hold on this book ASAP.
Holly Black writes some of the best YA out there, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is no exception to that rule. She has taken an opulent yet corrupt and stark world, and filled it with great memorable characters. You know the kind, the ones who stick with you long after the book is finished, the ones who make you repeatedly return to a story because you miss their voice. Yes, those kinds of characters. Tana, the protagonist may be one of my favourite Holly Black inventions yet. Which is saying a considerable amount since Cass is hands down one of my favourite book characters ever. Her dogged determination, sense of right and wrong, loyalty and overwhelming kindness, in a world distinctly lacking in kindness made her a shining star in an otherwise bleak world. Unlike Bella in Twilight, it is easy here to see why an ancient boy would be drawn to her.
Which brings me to Gavriel. Decidedly mad around the edges, with a steely centre, Gavriel is a truly Black kind of secondary character- shady. Which is to say, you're never quite sure if he's evil, dangerously unbalanced or all three combined, but you can't help but be attracted to him, largely because of his flaws instead of despite them. His interactions with Tana, especially when she's trying to boss him around, never stopped amusing me. I never stop loving Black's ability to keep me off balance with a characters moral compass, are they good, are they evil? She never draws that line so many other authors want to put in the sand, and instead she leaves it up to us and the stories arc to decide.
In the end this was the perfect fulfilment of that Poison Diaries short story of long ago. It is also a super satisfying follow up to the White Cat series, which is impressive because that series was without a doubt one of her finest pieces of writing. So if your craving a little bit of classic Vampires this October, with a side of dystopian fresh air, look no further than The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black
Published by Little Brown, September 3rd, 2013