Valiant Book Review

Valiant by Holly Black

Val didn’t think she was naive, not until she walks in on her mother and boyfriend in a passionate embrace. Cursing her stupidity, Val runs away to New York making friends with Lolly, Sketchy Dave, and Louis. But there are things going on beneath the streets that no one sees, magic that is both addictive and enticing. Finding herself addicted to a faerie drug called Never, Val ends of making a deal with a troll, who may or may not be a murderer.

Holly Black has done an amazing job of weaving reality with fantasy. On the surface, this feels like a gritty drama with the runaway teen on the streets, shaving her head and using drugs. Enter the magic and the story twists into a beast all its own, reminiscent of Finder by Emma Bull. Despite this being the second book in a series, for it is my lot in life to start series in the middle, I never once felt lost or out of place. Black never felt it necessary to give long bits of exposition and she allowed the world to happen as it went.

I was most drawn in by how quickly Val sinks into this world. What would make a child leave their only home? What drive someone to try drugs? What are the thought processes that someone would have throughout this process? With carefully sculpted characterization, it isn’t hard to see why Val does what she does. She is a girl searching for herself. When she doesn’t find it on the streets, she searches for it with drugs, and it is only love and friendship that can truly pull her from it.

I usually shy away from these books labeled Paranormal Romance, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one.