Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother’s rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms — a struggle that could very well mean her death.
Tithe is what it promises – dark and edgy, a scary tale with faeries. Now, if you haven’t been reading faerie stories in recent years, this would probably enchant you. But as I have been, the magic of Tithe feels a bit dampened for me. It is an urban fantasy about a changeling pixie who has lived her life as a human – albeit with a very loose-leashed mother, and so having to grow up before her time. Kaye has always been weird, only without knowing how much and now she is caught up in faerie politics when the two courts have finally embarked on a truce. She is to be the Tithe – part of a plan to undermine the Unseelie Queen, but despite being a faerie herself, she doesn’t comprehend their cunning nature.
As this is an urban fantasy, you would expect the melding of modern into the magical; it partly does, when Kaye relies on Cornelius to help them when she needs her glamour back. The narrative of the story is sometimes confusing though, with the flow quite discontinuous. The human part of this book is on shaky ground, though – with much left to be desired in the way of world-building. The faerie part itself comes out well enough – the glimpses of the world are dark, filled with equal parts magic and horror. It captures the vindictive nature of the faerie and their propensity towards cruelty for their amusement. Roiben is perhaps the exception to this rule and of course, he becomes the Primary Love Interest. After having read the Iron Fey series though (quite similar to this), you can’t help but find the latter superior to this one. Overall, this a good book in the faerie genre, just, you know, not great.