Don’t miss Holly Black who is on tour all over the country this month for White Cat—and, of course, The Poison Eaters and Other Stories! We’ve had a bunch of reviews come in all of which are a reminder of that a strong book this is:
“Black’s writing is vivid and beautiful, although it is a given that most of the stories will have a twist at the end, or everything will not be as it first appeared. Nearly all of the stories are dark, in the sense that there is looming danger and creepy things waiting for the protagonists. Some are tragic and some are not, but a thread of hope runs through most of them. Like much current young adult fantasy, particularly urban fantasy, there is here sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and grit as well as lurking elves, curses, and malevolent teachers.”
“With its wide range of subject and style, this collection of supernatural stories shows off Black’s fertile imagination.”
“In this collection of short stories, all save two have been previously published in various similarly named high-profile fantasy anthologies: The Restless Dead (2007), The Faery Reel (2007), and The Eternal Kiss (2009). Here, they’re brought together to present a multifaceted view of one of YA-dom’s most prominent urban fantasists. Cults of immortality seekers clamor to get bitten by vampires in “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown,” and a teenager makes a chilling sacrifice to save a neighbor and the boy she thinks she loves. Ever mindful that forbidden romance is a natural waltzing partner with dark fantasy, Black slips a sly coming-out element into “In Vodka Veritas,” where a secret private-school sect turns prom night into a Dionysian frenzy. To close out the volume, Black performs a neat bit of tinkering with structure in the title story, as a king reveals to his son and would-be poisoner an ingenious and surreal plot to exact revenge through a trio of venomous-to-the-touch sisters. Fans of her novels will relish this one-stop resource for Black’s dark, edgy, and imaginative storytelling.” Grades 9-12. –Ian Chipman.
“In this collection of twelve stories, ten of which have been previously published, Black explores what she identifies as a key benefit of short fiction: the element of mystery that inevitably accompanies a brief look at characters rather than a longer exploration in a novel. The resulting collection indeed feels as though one is wandering a hallway, opening doors that close themselves after only a peek inside. The glimpses, however, are compelling, rich and engaging even in their brevity. Topics range from deals with the devil, as in “A Reversal of Fortune,” which features a girl taking on, and besting, the devil (through disgusting and brilliant means) in an eating contest, to a teen who tries to keep herself drunk to ward off her lust for blood in “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.” The stories are loosely tied together, and there’s a strong connecting thematic thread as isolation and alienation warp perspective throughout the seemingly unrelated settings of libraries, fairy worlds, vampire camps, and private schools. Fans of Black will find slivers of her novels buried in a few spots, as in “Going Ironside” which is an early (and equally haunting and disturbing) study for Valiant (BCCB 10/05), while fans of short-story collections will appreciate the range of length, perspective, and even writing style represented in this batch. AS”
—Bulletin of Center for Child Books