Tag Archives: horror

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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A Horrible Confession

It’s that time of year again.

The second half of October is, in the eyes of the English-speaking world, a time for carving pumpkins, picking a scary costume and reading horror books. In other words, Halloween’s coming!

In Slovenia, we typically never celebrated Halloween as a holiday. We do get a free day for November 1, All Saints’ Day, and visit the graves of the people who meant something to us and passed away. We also light loads of candles. In recent years, however, Halloween parties have become more popular, especially among the student population (costume parties are always a favourite). :)

But I don’t like it. I find it weird that Anglo-American habits are leaking into our culture, even though I’m all for multiculturality. At a risk of souding like a grumpy old lady, it’s a very commercial practice, what with the spooky paraphernalia and costumes – much like Valentine’s Day which was never a huge thing in Slovenia until the arrival of American pop culture. We have a holiday called Pust (at the beginning of Lent), when we dress up in all sorts of costumes and try to chase winter away.

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To be honest, though, much of my dislike for Halloween stems from my intense dislike of anything horror-related. I am a total chicken when it comes to movies and books that are even remotely scary.

I used to watch horror movies, but I stopped because they gave me nightmares. I specifically remember the last horror movie I saw, the original version of Rec, which is so terrifying I can’t even think about it without shuddering. Seriously, it’s a problem for me. I once walked out of the movie theatre when I realised a movie we were going to see was a horror story (it was The Orphanage and I’m really glad I didn’t stay because little kids’ ghosts are just something I can’t deal with).

I’m not sure I ever read any true horror books, unless Bram Stoker’s Dracula counts as one, and I didn’t finish that one because my brother scared the living hell out of me when he jumped at me, yelling like a crazy person, while I was reading it. I’m telling you, I’m not a fan of scary stuff.

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But the truth is that this dislike for everything scary extends to real life situations as well. I hate walking alone at night, even though I live in a safe neighbourhood, and I always had problems with walking through the woods at night, even though I’m a scout. We used to have night orientation races and I always got through them on an adrenaline high and then had to eat loads of chocolate afterwards. I don’t like being alone in houses where I feel people can see in when I can’t see what’s happening outside. Seriously, people, the dark just gets me.

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This is why I don’t participate in any horror readalongs or fall events. Everything seems to be centered around getting scared as much as possible and my fragile self just can’t deal with that! :) I really like autumn as far as the colours and the weather and the clothes and the food go, but I tend to ignore much of the cultural stuff in this time of year.

However, I recently realized that I am not alone! There are other people who hate horror and scary stuff, so I’m thinking about giving this Halloween stuff a chance next year. Here is a very nice list of “Creepy Reads for Squeamish Readers”, if you’re like me and interested in getting into the mood regardless of your fears, and here is a guide to books with witches and dark magic, which, I admit, aren’t all that bad (and not as scary, usually)!

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Do you like Halloween? How about reading/watching horror? Do you share my dislike for anything that gives you goosebumps?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, people, so come and share! :)