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.
I’ve wanted to read a Holly Black book for a very long time, and believe me when I say that I was very excited to start this one. I’d heard great things about it, and as incredible as it seems, I’d seen no spoilers about the plot (which is a miracle in itself).
Since the very start of the book, I really liked the idea of the Coldtowns (walled in towns and cities with imprisoned vampires and humans), BUT I thought people would be more scared/the world would be more chaotic if there were freaky bloodsuckers walking around. I mean, even though there were vampires in the Coldtowns, there still were some roaming outside those walls, and people still thought it would be a great idea to have parties in the middle of nowhere, at night, with no means to defend themselves besides some garlic and rose water.
The story itself has a lot of scary parts and some very gory descriptions. There’s a dark undertone throughout the entirety of the plot, with really macabre vampires, and embarrassingly enough, I did the whole run-back-really-fast-and-jump-on-the-bed thing after I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Tana, the main character, is very tough. I’ve gotten used to reading about characters that start off shy and innocent and as the story progresses they get tougher, but Tana already barges in saying what she wants and establishing who she is, and she gets more and more complex as the plot is developed. But she’s also not the untouchable badass that has an impenetrable armor; she’s freaking out for most of the story, but manages to keep it together no matter what blows up in her face.
This wonderful book is not black and white. It does not, in any way, have a completely “good character”, or an entirely “evil character”. I found that most of the relationships were tinted with something wicked and something wonderful, and it really makes the reader stop and think about what morals and what would they do if they were in Tana’s place. There’s a lot of conflict about whether Tana is good or evil and whether what she’s doing is right or wrong, which gave the story some interesting turns. But like Lucien says in the book: “Every hero is the villain of his own story…”
Now let me tell you something about the descriptions in this book: they’re gory, incredibly detailed and absolutely perfect. The author has an awesome talent with using just the right words to describe something, and you’ll find yourself with a pleasant feeling of satisfaction whenever you read the descriptions. The whole book is very picturesque and detailed in a way that is not overwhelming, but just right.
Tana and Gavriel’s relationship is my guilty pleasure. I say “guilty” because it fits into the whole vampire/human romance spectrum, but it’s kind of twisted and I’d find myself wondering if I should be freaked out by the unnerving things they do to themselves and others, but they’re so freaking cute together. Plus, Gavriel’s madness is slightly endearing…we’re always wondering when he’ll snap. And praise the author, because there was not, and I repeat, there was not a love triangle *celebratory shimmy*
I wish we’d gotten a bit more of Gavriel’s flashback chapters. I loved reading about his beginning as a vampire, and I’d love to read a bit more about how he became the Thorn everybody was scared of. But what I really liked was how the book varies between short and long chapter. The variation makes the flow of the story into something unpredictable and keeps the reader hooked.
It’s interesting how big of a role technology has in the plot. Kids still use Twitter, people still blog, teenagers still take selfies…but now, the trending topics are bloodsuckers and there are reality shows about real-life vamp hunters.
The ending is perfect and twisted and sweet and dark and everything you’d ask for in a paranormal book. If you’re looking for a proper vampire book with a deliciously creepy plot, this is definitely it.