Review of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown
By: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 3rd 2013
Barnes and Noble

Thank you Stephanie (Inspiring Insomnia) for letting me borrow your copy!

My Rating:

Summary (via Goodreads):
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.

The Story:
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown started off very strong, the story starts with our main character, Tana, waking up confused after a party went tragically wrong. Black wrote the beginning so detailed and vividly that Tana’s fear and unease were tangible. I held my breath as I read; the scene being incredibly realistic and disturbing. For me, after this initial segment the story started to drag and I really struggled immersing myself as thoroughly as in the beginning. I felt that things were progressing too slowly, I wanted more to happen a lot faster.

There is a lot of information that Black had to provide as a backdrop to her story. We learn though flash backs from Tana or her sister’s point of view how our world turned to one where vampires are real and living among us. I felt the flashbacks provided the information I needed though I didn’t particularly enjoy reading them.

I did feel the way the Coldtowns were described was sadly accurate to how it might be if real. This story was bleak and gritty. I could never decide as I was reading if I was enjoying it or not. A lot of the writing was very eloquent,

But the thing is, I hadn’t known myself at all until I went away (page 350 of arc).

But other descriptions felt over done to me…granted, this is an arc so it could be edited down before the final version and I kept that in mind. An example of a really beautiful description going too far in my opinion,

His blood was shady afternoons and metal filings and tears running-thrumming through the fat roots of veins to drip syrup slow, spurting across her mouth, teeth, chin. (pg 316 of arc).

The Characters:
I never fully connected with Tana due to her decisions always seeming very naïve to me. I constantly felt that she walked into some really horrible situations and it honestly frustrated me. Her blind trust of strangers perturbed me. As the story progressed she did seem to learn from her mistakes and not repeat them. Her character grew, toughened up and actually became much more enjoyable to me. I did feel incredibly sorry for her because of her past experiences, and that did give her reason to act in the way that she did on some occasions. I  feel that Black did create a rounded character with depth though, personally, I wasn’t impressed with her.

I found the entire cast of secondary human characters very dislikeable, from her family members, ex boyfriend to the people she meets on the road. The only character I could really stand behind was Jameson (and I loved his white crow).

The most intriguing and well constructed character to me was Gavriel, a vampire. I was taken with him immediately  and would have loved to have seen much more of him and his back story. We do get to see a few flashbacks from his life and those were my favorites. I did find that Tana was much more likeable when in his presence and the book picked up and became vastly more interesting when he was involved. Worse problem was he wasn’t there nearly enough.

Final Thoughts:
I have read the first two books of Black’s Curse Worker series and found them highly enjoyable. This was not the best vampire book I’ve read mostly due to the slow story progression and lack of likeability of the main character. That being said I will be picking up the sequel if there is one.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Book Trailer:


  1. Samantha says

    Great review – I stumbled on your link on FB and had to come read the review – I also received this as an ARC and am curious about it – I liked your insights and now am curious to start reading it myself. Good review. thanks again!

    • says

      Thanks Samantha…I’ll be curious to see how people feel about this one. I’ve seen some 5 stars and 1 stars so pretty mixed opinions so far.

  2. says

    I read the first of Holly Black’s Curse Worker book some time ago, and wasn’t too impressed, but this did sound interesting. It’s good that this starts off strong, but it’s a shame that it then goes downhill. Tana also sounds very frustrating. I’ll still pick this, but I won’t go in with any expectations – although I am curious to meet Gavriel! Wonderful review, Kristen. 🙂

  3. says

    I’ll probably give this one a chance eventually, seems like a slight different twist on vampires. But after reading your review I really am not gonna rush to buy it when it comes out.

  4. says

    Hmmm I’ve never read a Holly Black novel, though I tried to read Tithe and just really didn’t like it. Fairies aren’t my thing. I’ve been looking forward to this one, so hopefully I don’t find the pace as frustrating as you did. I can seem myself becoming annoyed with a naive MC, though. Great review!

  5. says

    Ohh, you enjoyed this more than I did ;p Hih. But I’m glad you did 🙂 Sort of 😀 I didn’t like it, as you know. But I do understand why you liked Gavriel 🙂 Thank you for sharing your honest review. <3

  6. says

    This has been getting such mixed reviews already! Though unlike most people, I haven’t been a huge fan of Black’s previous books. I’m worried about this now. Still, I’m glad you were invested enough to want to pick up the sequel. Lovely review, Kristen!

  7. says

    Hmmm while I loved the Curse Workers series, I’m not sure whether I should give this book a try. I’ve seen so many mixed reviews! I do think that a likeable main character is quite an important factor though, so not sure whether I’d like this book…also the pace issues worry me slightly…

  8. says

    Great review. I totally understand your issues with the characters. I like stories the most when I really like the characters, so that might be an issue for me too. I’m planning on still reading this one. It sounds like a little bit of a different take on vampires and I’m curious how the author does with this type of story. Thanks for the review!

  9. Vivien says

    It’s really too bad you didn’t enjoy this one more. I really do adore Holly Black but I understand not everyone gets her writing style. I still cannot wait to read this one.

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