This review is spoiler-free!
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.
Firstly; I rarely enjoy books like this. Vampires are frequently abused by writers as boring, irrelevant romantic devices- but Holly Black’s vampires certainly didn’t sparkle! They were haunting, as they were so unique and richly fashioned, and it was indescribable the feelings of fear I felt, the awe, the fascination, that bubbled through my veins as I dove into the Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I picked up an elusive thread of romantic subplot somewhere along the line, but it wasn’t central to the story, which I praise Holly Black for. Her writing was deliciously dark and twisted, teeming with lush imagery and haunting description. It was vivid, it was frightening, it was rich- everything such a dark fantasy novel should be! The beginning was riveting, and possibly my favourite part, with Gabriel defying cliché in his seemingly weak and non-sparkly manner. Her vampires were different, living in walled Coldtowns and streamed live on TV every day. Some reached celebrity status, with their alluring ruby eyes and immortally beautiful faces. “
Vampires were always more beautiful than the living. Their skin was without blemish, marble smooth, and poreless. The older they got, the more their unnatural red eyes grew bright as poppies and their hair became as lustrous as silk.”
For some, it is desirable to become infected, to join the Coldtown, to dance at the Eternal Ball- many run away, pay to be bitten, and then dance immortally through the streets of the Coldtowns, elusive as shadow or smoke. But there are also those born there, human, yet trapped for the rest of their lives. Some commit suicide, burning up in sun; while others are a facet of the intoxicatingly fantastical parties thrown there, shunts in their arms as offerings to hungry vampires. I found the narrative style particularly enjoyable and unique, Tana’s story uncoiling elaborately with the use of blog posts, third-person narration, and flashbacks. It was fragile and dark in its slow movements, drawing out tense scenes. Tana was a strong character, and I hadn’t quite realised the gravity of my attatchment to her until I felt the phantom tug of fear in my stomach, the quickening of my heart, the clenching of my knuckles, as she encountered danger after danger. It was tightly plotted, keeping me guessing the whole journey through, the mystery evolving like a My favourite parts were the blogposts sent from the Coldtown’s, things like 20 Things To Bring To Coldtown. I had a few problems with this book- namely historical flashbacks that I batted past, eager to get back to this gracefully unfurling narrative, but I enjoyed this dark, rushing, vivid read.
I would recommend to anyone tired of cliché supernatural novels, and to those looking for a rich and opulent fantasy story. I will definitely be reading more of Holly Black’s work in the future!