Valiant (Modern Faerie Tales #2) by Holly Black
Publication: May 31st, 2002
Genre: YA Fantasy
When seventeen-year-old Valerie runs away to New York City, she’s trying to escape a life that has utterly betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who live in the city’s labyrinthine subway system.
But there’s something eerily beguiling about Val’s new friends. And when one talks Val into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature with whom they are all involved, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.
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What would you do if you caught your mom and boyfriend cheating on you??? If your Valerie, Val, Russell then you’re a 17-year-old girl who runs away on a train. While on the train she cuts her hair in a buzz style. A new look gives her a sense of identity and a feeling of control over this devastating discovery. She turns off her phone essentially cutting off all contact with her friends and family. She runs into two teens at a local café, Dave and Lolli, who are rebellious advocates. However, when they take Val to their “home” in a subway labyrinth, Luis, Dave’s older brother and ‘leader’, is not so welcoming but decides to put up with the new girl anyway. Things in their neck of the woods are stranger than your average NY weird but, Val shakes it off and decides to just “go with the flow”. While out with Dave, Val discovers the mystical world of faeries she had only heard of in stories is real. The more she gets comfortable with this world and the people in it, Val decides she wants to become a part of it and shoots up a magical drug that Lolli and Dave have been using for a while, called Never. “Nevermore, never, never…no more pain”. The drug allows mortals to have a glamour to mask their appearance which makes them strikingly beautiful and manipulative. They get whatever they ask for and don’t feel a thing until the drug starts to leave their system. Val ends up meeting the maker of Nevermore, Ravus, in his home under pretty bad circumstances so, Val ends up working for him as a trade for Lolli’s freedom. As the story progresses we learn about poisonings that have been happening to the folk and no one knows who is the cause of it but Ravus is the main suspect. Everyone’s lives are at stake and it’s crazy plot twists from beginning to end.
Holly Black truly is the queen of faerie fantasies. Her worlds are so mystical and her writing is filled with stunning prose. The world in this series is magical, vivid, and bright. Valiant is raw, gritty, and gruesome. I adored every minute of it. Nothing is realistic yet everything is. The characters are addicts, engage in casual sex, drop f-bombs, steal, and have some terrible morals. But, that is why I loved her writing because life is not always sunshine and rainbows. Black is not afraid to show the terrible sides of people while throwing them into a whimsical world.
Val had a lot of character growth that I really admired. I don’t know if I would have reached the level of forgiveness she did as quickly. I also enjoyed how she really broke out of her shell. She always felt like the sidekick in her own life. On this journey, she really discovers herself and her inner strength as well as the love she always craved. Her character arc had a lot of depth to it. Being free to make bad decisions is not the way to use freedom but, Val learns this the hard way but she uses this experience to become a better Val. Ravus the troll is my sunshine. Really he just wants to help heal people. He is a very compassionate person? I guess I will say troll lol. He looked like a human he just had green-hued skin, long black silky hair, yellow eyes, and big teeth. We didn’t get him as much as we did Roiben but I still loved when he was around. He has a big heart and just a really freaking good person/troll man. Lolli was honestly insane (she kills a cat because she didn’t want to take care of it) but also incredibly rich in depth. I wanted more of her. The brothers were and still are a mystery that I hope we see again because their whole arc was interesting. Listen there was a lot of bad and horrible decisions made in this whole crew (besides Ravus, maybe he should never have met the humans because he is good) but it was incredibly written.
The love story is really not the focus until the story gets closer to ending. It’s a very slow burning romance but it was still cute. I liked it a lot but I do wish we got to see more of it like Roiben and Kaye.
For I shall learn from flower and leaf that color every drop they hold. To change the lifeless wine of grief to living gold.
He ran the pads of his fingers over her mouth slicking them with the stuff. She had braced herself for his skin to feel oily or horrible but it was merely warm. Then when he looked into her face his gaze was so intent that she shuttered.
“You carried my heart in your hands tonight,” he said. “But I have felt as if you carried it long before that.”
“I would remain nearer you for what time there is.” “Gone in one faerie sigh,” she quoted. Leather-clad fingers brushed over her short hair, rested on her cheek. “I can hold my breath.”
“People said that video games were bad because they made you numb to death, made you register entrails splattering across a screen as a sign of success. In that moment, Val thought that the real problem with games was that the player was supposed to try everything. If there was a cave, you went in it. If there was a mysterious stranger, you talked to him. If there was a map, you followed it. But in games, you had a hundred million billion lives and Val only had this one.”
“It’s the flaw that brings out the beauty.”
Val stretched out beside him, resting her head in the crook of his arm. “What do you hope?”
He pulled her close, hands careful not to touch her wounds as they wrapped around her. “I hope that you feel for me as I do for you,” he said, his voice like a sigh against her throat.
“So you’ll teach me?” Val asked. Ravus nodded again. “I will make you as terrible as you desire.” “I don’t want to be -,” she started, but he held up his hand. “I know you’re very brave,” he said. “Or stupid.” “And stupid. Brave and Stupid.” Ravus smiled, but then his smile sagged. “But nothing can stop you from being terrible once you’ve learned how.”
“I like all the things that make you monstrous.”
“She’d always been a little contemptuous of beauty, as though it was something you had to trade away some other vital thing for.”
“Everything was strange and beautiful and swollen with possibilities.”
“I’m sorry I kissed you- it was selfish and it upset you- but you can’t ask me to pretend I didn’t want to.”
“It demeans you to cover rotten meat with honey. I know what I am. What would you want with a monster?” “Everything.”
“I’m afraid that whatever I touch is spoilt by the contact.” “I’m not scared of being spoiled,” Val said.”
Startled, he loosed his grasp and she pulled free. He clutched her arm, but she spun around and pressed her mouth to his. His lips were rough, chapped. She felt the sting of fangs against her bottom lip. He made a sharp sound in the back of his throat and closed his eyes. Mouth opening under hers. The smell of him- of cold, damp stone- made her head swim. One kiss slid into another and it was perfect, was exactly right, was real.
“None of that seemed real, but the world would certainly be cooler with something so unreal in it.”
“Some things exist whether you believe in them or not”
“I tell people everything. People only believe what they can handle. That’s how I know who to trust.”