The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black

If you can stomach the first scene in Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, you're sitting pretty for the rest of the book. The story opens with a massacre: when Tana wakes up in a bathtub after a teen party, she discovers that she has drunkenly dozed through a massive vampire attack. Most of her friends are dead, but her ex-boyfriend Aidan has survived as well... more or less. She finds him tied to a bed, infected with incipient vampirism and left as a snack for a chained vampire boy named Gavriel. Facing both ruthless vampire hunters and vampires themselves, Tana bundles Aidan and Gavriel into her car and makes for the closest Coldtown—one of the walled cities that humans have created to quarantine the recently-discovered vampire population, along with their willing victims.

That's a doozy of an opener, and the rest of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown struggles to live up to it. Black's descriptions of Coldtown feel like refried Underworld sets, several of the minor characters are straight-up obnoxious, and a subplot about Tana's naïve little sister falls flat. Happily, these misfires are more than offset by the appeal of Tana herself, who reacts to her life's abrupt detour into hell with determination and ruthless practicality. Each time something goes wrong, she slams a lid on her horror and panic and does her best to best to be compassionate—but not foolishly so. Sure, she makes plenty of mistakes along the way (and her taste in men could use some serious work), but we are always going to approve of a girl who can take down a vampire with a garden rake, so if Black decides to turn this book into a series we will be happy to see more of her.
Posted by: Julianka


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