From the Cover:
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home.
There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms - a struggle that could very well mean her death.
From Publishers Weekly:
Tripping the dark fantastic with newcomer Black means pixie dust may very well include blood spatter, sharp thorns and bits of broken glass.
At the center of this edgy novel is Kaye Fierch, a 16-year-old “Asian blonde” who spends most of her time taking care of her would-be rock star mom. When her mom’s latest boyfriend turns homicidal, they return to Gram’s house at the New Jersey shore, where Kaye hooks up with childhood friend Janet and her gay brother, Corny Stone.
Stark images ripple through the third-person narrative, offering clues to Kaye’s internal state (e.g., “She loved the serene brutality of the ocean”). A covert sexual overture from Janet’s boyfriend precedes Kaye’s nighttime encounter at the edge of the woods, where she meets and rescues Roiben, a mysterious Black Knight with silver hair.
Throughout, the author subtly connects Kaye’s awakening sexual feelings in the real world and Roiben’s sudden appearances. Kaye soon discovers that she is a changeling-and that her one-time “imaginary” faerie playmates want her to pretend to be a human, so they can use her as the Tithe (“the sacrifice of a beautiful and talented mortal”) to earn their freedom for seven years. The author’s Bosch-like descriptions of the Unseelie Court, with its Rackham-on-acid denizens, and the exquisite faeries haunt as well as charm. When fate intervenes, sudden tragedy teaches Kaye about the high cost of straddling the faerie and human worlds (and sets the stage for a possible sequel). A gripping read. Ages 12-up.
I bought and read the three books in this series, Tithe, Valiant & Ironside, in the wrong order but without caring. I was hooked. In fact, I read Tithe when it was first published and was struck by its power then. But I forgot about it in the intervening years (it may have been only three, but to a compulsive reader like me that is a very long time!)
Highly recommend all three books.
Gonna have to go investigate Spiderwick now…