The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
3.5 out of 5 Stars
“She knew she shouldn’t feel that way about a monster, but right then, she wanted nothing more than a monster of her very own.”
After an extremely enthusiastic recommendation from a student, I finally decided to pick up Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Having immensely disliked White Cat and absolutely loved The Cruel Prince, I was interested to see where on the “Beth’s Holly Black Enjoyment Scale” Coldtown fell. I’ll give it a resounding “hey that was pretty good” putting it somewhere here:
Vampires used to be characters on tv, counting things and getting into dramatic love triangles and drama. They were never supposed to be real. Having lost her mother to the Cold, Tana fully understands the threat Vampires can pose to Humans. They’re not human anymore, are they? So when she finds herself in a car with a vampire and a Cold teenager with a one-way ticket to a Coldtown Quarantine, she knows her life isn’t going to be the glitz and glam seen on all the reality shows she’s seen. Coldtown is brutal. Thankfully, so is Tana.
I’ve said it a lot this year, but this book wasn’t anything like what I was expecting. Where I thought we were getting glitzy glamour vampire parties and the usual YA fare, what Black delivered was a lot more complex and interesting. While there was (debatably) glitz and glam aplenty, Coldtown‘s world has a very post-apocalyptic “Pandemic/28 Days Later” vibe going on. It was jarring when I first got into it, but it worked well. Though early on it was hard to marry the scenes within and outside the Coldtown walls as being the same world. I got the same sense from Black’s The Cruel Prince, which I was surprised to learn is a modern day setting. That being said, the dark and often hopeless undercurrent in the settings really worked well for the story Black was telling.
I loved Tana as a character. She’s one of those intimidating snarky loner girls from back in high school who everyone is secretly intimidated by/has a crush on. She had a lot of depth and growth in her and while she made some… questionable decisions, she was a delight to read. There were a handful of other fun characters (Gavriel, Val, Jameson) and a couple who I couldn’t tell apart (Winter, Midnight and co.). Black writes great characters and they were a lot of fun to read. Speaking of her writing… Coldtown makes good use of Black’s very evocative writing style, though I often found myself getting frustrated as the POV switched around and we had flashbacks thrown at us. I understand that these “every second chapters” were used to amp up the tension, draw out drama and give context, but gosh some were particularly annoying.
Overall, I enjoyed Coldtown. It did have a bit stacked against it, as reading it came off the back of having read The Mortal World (<3) and I found myself drawing a lot of unnecessary and unfair comparisons to The Cruel Prince, but I enjoyed it for what it was. I understand that there is a short story set in this universe, and my student was insistent that a second book had been announced, which I would be interested in reading. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a fun, tense standalone(ish) YA novel that did Vampires in such a cool (heh) way.
So, Holly Black, huh? I recently learned that she’s in part responsible for CC getting published and I’m trying to forgive her for that!!! I’ve been having a bit of a read over on FanLore recently and was surprised to find that Black was a bit of a BNF back in the day, and got a few mentions within The MsScribe Story: An Unauthorised Fandom Biography by Charlotte Lennox. This was such a fascinating chapter in Fandom history and I highly recommend a read through! So much suspense! Drama! Real life consequences!
Since Christmas is in Ten Days, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is my last review before then. In which case – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that 🙂