The Poison Eaters & Other Stories

Holly Black  - published February 2010

9781931520638 · A Junior Library Guild Pick · Big Mouth House

Also available as a paperback from Simon & Schuster and as an audiobook.

Pick your poison: Vampires, devils, werewolves, faeries, or . . . ? Find them all here in Holly Black’s amazing first collection.

In her debut collection, New York Times best-selling author Holly Black returns to the world of Tithe in two darkly exquisite new tales. Then Black takes readers on a tour of a faerie market and introduces a girl poisonous to the touch and another who challenges the devil to a competitive eating match. Some of these  stories have been published in anthologies such as 21 Proms, The Faery Reel, and The Restless Dead, and many have been reprinted in many “Best of ” anthologies.

The Poison Eaters is Holly Black’s much-anticipated first collection, and her ability to stare into the void—and to find humanity and humor there—will speak to young adult and adult readers alike.

Table of Contents

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
A Reversal of Fortune
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
The Night Market
The Dog King — listen to it on Podcastle
In Vodka Veritas
The Coat of Stars
Paper Cuts Scissors — listen to it on Podcastle
Going Ironside
The Land of Heart’s Desire
The Poison Eaters

What do readers say?

Locus Recommended Reading

“Black doesn’t strike a sour note in the bunch. Plus, the small, detailed pen and ink illustrations by Black’s hub Theo add a distinctly melancholic touch. So go ahead drink some Poison—it’s good for you!”
Reading Rants

* “Black’s first story collection assures her place as a modern fantasy master…. Sly humor, vivid characters, each word perfectly chosen: These stories deserve reading again and again.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The Land of Heart’s Desire” shows Black doing what she does best, which an outlook that’s neither too fey nor too cynical, as young humans confront faerie in the big modern city. They’ll learn about each other and themselves, from the inside out.”
—Faren Miller, Locus

“I’m impressed by the freshness of Black’s treatment of old, worn conventions, for she uses her characters’ consciousness of the conventions to stretch and explore them rather than make light of them, and by the insightful emotional intelligence of her characterizations.”
—L. Timmel Duchamp, Strange Horizons

“An elegant and eloquent collection of dark fantasy and fairy tales that epitomizes some of the best writing those forms have to offer.”
Green Man Review

“There is an amazing range here, in both the stories and the settings, which take readers from castles to cities to a boarding school. “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” is a chilling tale about vampires, while “In Vodka Veritas” tells the story of a boy at a boarding school coming to terms with his sexuality Black has a gift for creating the kind of edgy, original stories teens love.”

“Black’s got all the supernatural bases covered: vampires, fairies, an elf, a unicorn, wolves, the devil, and a spell-wielding high school Latin club…. Although they are often centered on bleak, dark characters, the pieces inspire hope, are touching and delightful, and even turn the most ghoulish characters into feeling beings.”
School Library Journal

“Compelling, rich and engaging.”
Bulletin of Ctr for Child Books

“Black (the Good Neighbors series) proves equally adept at urban fantasy and more traditional fairy tales, and her stories often feature the edgy sexuality and angst that have become her trademarks.”
Publishers Weekly

Praise for Holly Black’s books:

“Black’s series [is] considered to have kick-started the fairy trend in young adult fantasy.”
New York Times Book Review

“Gritty, grim, and fabulous—Holly is a master of dark magic and dark reality!”
—Tamora Pierce (author of Bloodhound)

“Holly Black is the Real Thing: a gifted writer with a solid grounding in what matters. Her stories are dark and splendid blooms rising from roots sunk deep in myth and tradition.”
—Ellen Kushner (author of The Privilege of the Sword)

“Simply put, Holly Black is one of our best writers. Enchanting and edgy, yes, but it’s the big heart in her stories that brings me back to her writing, time and again. Reading a new book by Holly is like meeting up with an old friend. They might be a little messed up from the last time you saw them, they might have some serious drama going on in their lives, but the connection is immediate, and when they’re packing up to head off again, you don’t want to let them go.”
—Charles de Lint (author of The Blue Girl)

“Dark, edgy, beautifully written, and compulsively readable, this is sure to be a word-of-mouth hit with teens.”

“An unusually powerful YA contemporary fantasy, and an outstanding first novel.”

“Debauchery, despair, deceit, and grisly death–what more could you ask from a fairy tale?”
Kirkus Reviews

“Dark, edgy fantasy.”
School Library Journal

Holly Black is the author of Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (an ALA Best Book for Young Adults) and two related novels, Valiant (Norton Award winner, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, CCBC Choices) and Ironside, as well as a new series of novels beginning with White Cat and Red Glove. She and Tony DiTerlizzi created the best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles. She is also the author of a graphic novel series, The Good Neighbors, with artist Ted Naifeh. She and her husband, Theo, live in Massachusetts with many, many cats.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Black, Holly.
The poison eaters and other stories / Holly Black. — 1st ed.
v. cm.
Contents: The coldest girl in Coldtown — A reversal of fortune — The boy who cried wolf — The night market — The dog king — Virgin — In vodka veritas — The coat of stars — Paper cuts scissors — Going Ironside — The land of heart’s desire — The poison eaters.
ISBN 978-1-931520-63-8 (alk. paper)
1.  Children’s stories, American. [1. Fantasy. 2. Short stories.]  I. Title.
PZ7.B52878Po 2010