Valiant by Holly BlackRobin: Valiant is the second in the Modern Faerie Tales series, a companion novel rather than a sequel to Tithe. This novel is a rather grim tale of exiled faeries in New York City. The story centres on a human girl, Val, who flees from her suburban home to the city, ending up living in a subway with Lolli, a wild girl, Dave, a discontented dreamer, and Luis, Dave’s responsible but morose brother. Luis has the Faerie Sight – which means he not only recognizes a faerie when he sees one, but is completely unfooled any kind of fey glamour. The trio have an uneasy relationship with the exiles, and through them Val meets a number of the faerie folk.

Why the faeries, forced for a variety of reasons to leave their courts, end up in this crowded city is not entirely clear, except perhaps that the city is outside the influence of the courts, being so permeated with iron. The iron poisons the exiles, so that they must take a special potion to survive, a potion brewed by the troll alchemist Ravus. Ravus who, rather amusingly, lives under Brooklyn Bridge, is perhaps the most striking character in the book, described as “tall and lean as a basketball player… lank hair, black as ink, framed the grayish-green skin of his face. Two undershot incisors jutted from his jaw, their tips sinking into the soft flesh of his upper lip. His eyes: the black irises were dusted around the edges with gold, like the eyes of a frog.” He has a secret sorrow, and cannot endure sunlight. An unlikely romantic hero, but there is never any accounting for human taste.

A thrilling duel in the underground Unseelie Court, where a couple of the characters from Tithe can be spotted, followed by a rather weepy episode, provides the rather cinematic climax to the novel.

Luis also appears in Ironside, and some of the other characters of Valiant make cameo appearances.

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