The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Published in 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: won in a giveaway (paperback).

Genre: YA paranormal/horror.

My rating:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

Coldest Girl in Coldtown has been on my TBR list for two years, I think. I won it in a Halloween giveaway during my first year of blogging, and I’ve been putting off reading it because I was scared it would be too scary for me (you know I’m a chicken when it comes to horror, right?). But then I put it on my winter tbr list – and managed to read it because I love crossing items off lists. Whatever works, right?

I really liked this book, which… is both a surprise and pretty predictable, depending on how you look at it. It’s a horror story alright, nothing light about it, but it’s also a book about vampires and it has a romance in it.

Tana is a great, smart heroine who kicks some ass but isn’t perfect at the same time. Her gut reaction to vampires is horror, which is good, but there’s also attraction, which is understandable. She’s not one of those swoony heroines who fall for the vampire boys – okay, so she does fall for the vampire boy, but her feelings are lust mixed with curiosity and a hefty amount of shame. Her childhood was really colourful (her mom bit her when she was infected) and she still carries the consequences of that. Her love for her sister, Pearl, is also great, she’d do anything for her. I liked her a lot because she was such a complex character.

The romance was slow enough for me to really get behind it. First of all, it’s not love at first sight at all – we don’t know what the guy is thinking, anyway, because he’s half crazy, and Tana is afraid of him as much as she wants to kiss him. I liked how they shared their history with each other and how Tana began to trust him, even if he’s a predator who’s likely to drink all her blood. It’s a twisted attraction – and I was glad it was presented as such, not overly romanticised, as is often the case with vampire romances.

I also liked the fact that there are no vegetarian vampires in this story. By this I mean to say that vampires are, for once, crazy, blood-thirsty monsters. Are they insanely beautiful? Sure. Do they have luscious hair and gorgeous lips? Yep. But there’s no sugar-coating the fact that they need to drink blood to survive and that they often kill while feeding because biting a human makes him or her go Cold, which is the stage before vampirism, and making more vampires will mean more strain on the blood supply.

My only real complaint would be the amount of backstory – the switching chapters made me feel like the story wasn’t as tense as it could have been. I mean, yeah, the “past” segments add color and information (mostly on Tana’s character), but they were sometimes too long and I felt like skipping them to get to the good parts again.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a good story, made even better by the fact that it’s a standalone and not a part of a stretched-out series. It’s a horror story but mild enough even for me (so all you fellow chickens out there can be sure it isn’t very horrible after all). I’m really glad I gave it a try, not only because it was collecting dust on my bookshelf, but because I’m starting to really like Holly Black (I’d previously read and reviewed her novel White Cat, which IS part of a series I really need to continue). I’ll be reading more of her work for sure.

Have you read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown? What did you think?

Have you read any more of Black’s novels? How about other vampire stories? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I didn’t realize this was horror, I thought it was more just paranormal, but either way it sounds great! I don’t think I ever really paid attention to the blurb before. But I love vampires, and Tana sounds awesome. I also like slow-moving romances. I’ll put this one on my TBR :-)

    • Wellll, it’s not HORROR – I can’t handle real horror, but it’s scarier than my usual reads and more gory, too. I hope you’ll give it a try! :)

  • I read my first Holly Black last year (I guess two years ago now:) – 2015) and have really wanted to pick up more stuff from her! This looks like a very good candidate. Even though they were done to death (ha, ha!) I really like vampires as a monster and it’s good to see them portrayed as they are but also just a smidge dangerously seductive. Anyway, there were a number of her books on the candidate list for next book of hers to read and I think this just shot to the top!

    • This is a good book if you want to try more Black because it’s a standalone and a fast read.

      Of course vampires are seductive, there’s the whole immortal angle + they have to be gorgeous or else people would never let them near enough to feed off them. There’s definitely a sort of attraction.

  • Hmmm, interesting. I think I’ll try this!

    • I hope you do, it’s a good book – and a fast read.

  • Well I’m happy that you had more luck with this one than I did^^ I don’t usually do horror either but that wasn’t my issue here. I had a hard time with the fact that the characters kept filming everything despite being is so much danger. I just bugged me you know? I didn’t connect with Tana either, I found her frustrating. It’s a shame because I had high hopes for this one. In any case, reading your review almost makes me want to give it a second chance ;)

    • Haha, yeah, the blogging/vlogging aspect was a bit weird. It’s too bad you didn’t like this one but I find it that if I dislike the book the first time around, chances are I’ll dislike it even more on the second read. :)

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Yeah, I loved how the vampires were done in this one. They didn’t nice it up.

    • Yep, the whole vampire thing was pretty gruesome, but not too gruesome. I think this would make an awesome movie.

  • I’ve read some really mixed reviews on this one, but I really enjoyed it when I read it. It wasn’t the most original thing ever, but it had enough interesting spins on genre staples to keep me interested.

    • Yeah, it’s not revolutionary as far as plot and tropes are concerned, but it was a good, fast read and I enjoyed it a lot. I know some people couldn’t connect with Tana and so on – but then you always get mixed reviews on books. I’m glad you enjoyed it! :)

  • Holly Black is the queen of standalone YA fantasy! I absolutely adored The Darkest Part of the Forest, and based on what you’ve said here, I’m sure I’ll love The Coldest Girl in Coldtown too. I’ve heard that one of the main characters is bi, so that just makes me want to read it even more.

    The first book I ever read by Black was Tithe, which is also a fantasy novel with a pretty heavy horror slant. She can definitely write terrible, unsettling monsters who are still (somehow) attractive.

    • Yeah, I remember your review for Darkest Part of the Forest – I have it on my to-buy list and I’ll pick it up eventually. I like Black’s writing.

      The character who’s bi isn’t really a main character but he’s significant enough to be interesting, yeah. I was more intrigued by his loose moral sense, actually. If you give it a try, I’ll definitely be interested in hearing what you think about him!

  • I’ve been meaning to read this book forever! Like seriously, for so long and still I don’t own it. I know it’s available at my library if I want to reserve a copy and still I haven’t done it! I am determined to clear off my ever growing to buy shelf on Goodreads (it’s the shelf where I add all the books I want to read which I don’t own) and I am cutting it down God damn it.

    Now, onto the book. This definitely sounds like a book I’ll enjoy because for one thing I do love a good horror. For another thing, I like Holly Black’s writing. She just writes things so well. I love The White Cat (and still haven’t finished the series so I will be rereading that and finishing the series as a whole) and I really enjoyed The Darkest Part of the Forest (is that the title? I feel like that’s the title) so this book is almost guaranteed to be one I like.

    I love the fact vampires are actually vampires in this, no glossing over them. I hate when vampires becomes less bloody and murderous, they are not sparkly Twilight vampires, you know? I’ll have to request it from the library. You see this on one of my Sunday posts anytime soon you’ll know I’ve finally got around to requesting it.