Fairytale in the Big City (Valiant – Book Review)

Author: Holly Black
Published: 2005

Valiant - Goodreads

Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt


Valerie, betrayed by her mother and cheated on by her boyfriend, runs away to the city that never sleeps. New York City. Slumming in an abandoned subway with a group of squatters, she tries a new drug. One that nobody knows about and is referred to as Never.

“There are three rules: Never more than once a day, never more than a pinch at a time, and never more than two days in a row.”

Its seductive pull is addictive and magical, making almost anything possible with a little glamour. When going out to find some more of the Never, one of Val’s new friends is put in danger by a monstrous creature she only knew to exist in books. In exchange for her services, he lets her friend live.

Soon enough Val discovers there is a thin veil between the realm of faerie and the realm of ordinary humans. The more she grows closer to her monstrous employer, who turns out to be more different than she imagines the more she becomes submerged in all of the magic around her and the more she begins to forget about her previous life.

This is a tale I come back to from time to time. It’s a beautiful twist on the fairy tale creatures that we’ve come to know as children. Trolls in the subway system. Fairies in Grand Central Park. This book brings us back as young adults to such fantastical magic, and for yet another lesson that only fairy tales can bring. Only this time it’s not about a moral code. It’s about the complications we begin to face when we begin to come out of childhood, heartache and acceptance.

Buffy - Once More with Extreme Prejudice

This tale was just what I needed when I was in high school and there are times when I need it these days. I was such a sucker for magic and to this day I still am. Bold, strong and determined, Val became the unsung heroine of the iron city. While she’s no Buffy, she could certainly compete.


(And I’ve realized that I’ve gotten carried away with the Buffy gifs. I couldn’t help myself.)

I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves fairy tales, magic and even true love. I believe that this is the magic we all need in our lives to help us find ourselves as we continue to grow because even though we grow up, fairy tales still have a lot to teach us. Holly Black did a beautiful job in creating one where the monster is capable of love and the ordinary is capable of being a hero.


Excerpt Favorites:

“You know,” Lolli said, “the thing about drugs is that they make things kind of shift, go leftwars and sideways and upside down, but with Never, you can take everyone else upside down with you. What else can do that?” (p. 96)


“Were they sweet tooths? Human thralls willing to do anything for a taste of Never, not even knowing what it was to stick it in your arm or burn it up you nose.tick it in you arm.””(p.226)


More to come soon…


P.S. Today’s song? Real Life Fairytale by Plumb.