shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


read a book: Holly Black's Valiant

So, one of the books I wrote about in my first review column for Say... (currently residing in two boxes in a Fed-Ex truck somewhere between Nashville and here) was Holly Black's amazingly wonderful new novel Valiant, which comes out very soon. I'm reprinting that section of the column here as a preview and because I think you should buy this book immediately (pre-order or it'll be available soon) and because I don't have time to write any new content for Shaken & Stirred this week. Findeth the column after the lovely cover image and be warned there are potential plot spoilers, though mostly for things that happen very early on:

Valiant, Holly Black.
Black follows up her excellent first novel Tithe with a book set in the same world. It seems like faery has been done and redone, but no one has managed to reinvent the faery world and the dangers of human interaction with it like Black has. Her two faery books feel completely new, even while making extensive use of traditional depictions, history and lore. Valiant is her best yet (and I say that having adored Tithe). Like Tithe, Valiant opens with a girl living a not so perfect life in New Jersey. But Valiant quickly shows us that this will be an even darker, grittier ride, and yet, it never feels put on or overdone. The tight, evocative writing is an exact match for the story of Valerie Russell, aka Val, a lacrosse playing 17-year-old whose life falls apart in the first chapter after she interrupts her mother and her boyfriend having sex--then finds out her best friend had known about their trysts. Val flees to New York City where she’s quickly taken in by a group of runaways living in an abandoned part of the subway. One of them, Luis, has “the Sight” and is in service to a troll named Ravus.

Valiant takes its title from the early nicknaming of Val by one of her new friends as Prince Valiant. At a time when the “ass-kicking teenage girl” is beginning to feel tired, Val rings completely, winningly true. She’s filled with self-doubt but her nature is to act when it’s called for, no matter the cost. She ends up in service to Ravus, but quickly he’s in hers. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, the story will still provoke surprise and wonder for readers. Val’s emotional journey and the constant reinvention of the reader’s expectations make this faery tale completely engrossing.


If you can't tell, I seriously loved this book. Buy it.


  • At 2:57 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


    I am so glad you liked it. Really really. Also, you are the first person who's reviewed it that mentioned it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

    So, I have been wondering this for a while--is it anything like the book you are working on in terms of setting?

  • At 5:56 PM , Blogger Gwenda said...

    Only it's BETTER than Beauty and the Beast. I loved it. It's a wonderful book and you should be so proud of it. I'm sure everyone else will love it too.

    Re setting: It's pretty much nothing like my book at all... which was a huge relief. I was a worried it would look as if I was copying you, but I'm not anymore. Our undercities have a different texture to them.

  • At 6:24 PM , Blogger Jenny Davidson said...

    Can't wait to read it! I loved TITHE...

  • At 8:49 PM , Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

    Gwenda's book and Valiant have pretty much nothing in common. Gwenda's right: the two underworlds feel completely different.

    Wow, I'm feeling very dense that I missed the Beauty and the Beast retelling. Now that you say it seems SOOO obvious.

  • At 12:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I confess to sneaking a glance at the first page when Kelly had it on her kitchen counter. It was amazing. I can't wait to see the whole book. Of course, I understand there's that pesky business of finishing writing it, but still.

  • At 8:17 AM , Blogger Gwenda said...

    Okay, so now I'm blushing. Very nice of you to say.

    It's getting there, very close to being done.

  • At 3:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i read the uncorrected version and it was amazing. i am now a big fam and hope to read much more of your work.

  • At 1:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    *slaps forehead* DUH! I feel so stupid now that I totally missed the idea of the Beauty and the Beast thing. The book was awesome, as we all know. I swear, I will never think of a troll the orthodox (Warcraft) way again.

  • At 2:04 PM , Blogger Christine said...

    Blech. Val is too much of a badass. Instead of punching Jen in the face, she could've ignored her. I know KAye didn't go through any katty drama in Tithe, but I'm pretty sure she would've magicked her way out of it. IDK....Valerie is just...not someone I would like, so I didn't really like Valiant, at all. And it's too much like Beauty and the Beast, and not even THAT good. Tithe is more original. It kinda sucks that Valiant is going to be made into a movie before Tithe. I think I've seen about 200-odd movies where realworld girl finds fantasyland, falls for fantasy boy and yadda yadda yadda. Blech, but since it's Hollywood, Tithe is probably gonna come out when I'm like in college or something.

  • At 3:39 PM , Blogger Trish_Tha_Dish13 said...

    I loveed the book. I thought it was literally great.. I didn't even know who Holly Black was untill my friend went and whoed me the book "Valiant" and I read it and I can't put it down. When I am on a lunch break for work I pull the book out and I begin to read it and I don't want to go back to work. Well I can't wait to read more of her books. Much love and support.

    P.S I didn't know Valiant is going to be made into a movie awsome. I can't wait to see it..

    -tRiSh tHa DiSh ♥


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