06 February 2014

Audiobook Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Title: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author(s): Holly Black
Genre(s): Horror, Paranormal, Vampires, Young Adult
Publisher/Date: Little Brown Books for Young Readers / September 3, 2013
Series: Stand Alone
“We all wind up drawn to what we're afraid of, drawn to try to find a way to make ourselves safe from a thing by crawling inside of it, by loving it, by becoming it.” -Tana
Case Study
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. (synopsis from Goodreads)

The Game's Afoot
First, I'd like to thank my awesomesauce book club for picking this book. Secondly, I'd like to thank Holly Black for making me fall in love with vampires again. Seriously. This book rocks!  

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a richly imagined story and Black doesn't skimp on the macabre details, the scintillating danger or the gore. In this world, vampirism is a disease, of sorts, one that can be overcome after 88 agonizing days of bloodlust. Those who are bitten are placed in Coldtowns to mingle with the infected and the undead. The problem is: once you've gone to Coldtown, it's nearly impossible to leave. Black takes classic horror and blends it with modern elements to create something that feels simultaneously familiar yet still so different. And if that's not enough, rejoice in the fact that this is a love triangle free zone! PROGRESS!

What really stuck with me was how Black made vampires scary again. These vampires are of the ruthless variety --- callous, mysterious and cruel --- they are to be feared as well as admired, and no scene illustrates that better than the opening one. Black doesn't hold back when it comes to bloody violence and the audio narration really added a little something extra to the book's creepiness. That coupled with unique death quotes at the start of each chapter, it's bound to give you the chills. The story is richly layered, giving us glimpses into multiple POV's as well as past events.

Coldtown also introduces us to some really dynamic characters, like the protagonist, Tana. Tana is the type of heroine you want to root for because she's perfectly imperfect and loyal to a fault. She's not a girl who just stands by and lets life happen. She's all about action, despite the consequences. She doesn't need to be saved, in fact, she's frequently the one doing the saving. Then there's Gavriel, beautiful, dangerous, undead Gavriel. Gavriel is a monster through and through and Black doesn't ever let you forget that. He's an old soul, centuries old, and crazy to boot. Can I just say how much I shipped Gavriel and Tana's romance! It makes sense given their tragic backgrounds and mutual understanding of what mercy is. They are bonded by tragedy, both having suffered and endured. They each struggle with inner demons and that makes them a great match.

I like how Tana kept her resolved at the end, despite the ease and lure that beckoned to her. It would've been so convenient for her to give in, but she didn't, and her strength is part of why I loved her. The ending was a bang which matched the rest of the story's intensity so well. It was quite open-ended and though part of me is pleased that this is a stand alone, the other part of me wishes to see where these characters take us next. A little adventure, a little horror and a little road trip, this book has a little of everything. Coldtown is a breath of fresh air in an, otherwise, overdone genre. First Gone Girl and now there's this. I think it's safe to say I trust my book club implicitly in choosing some really fantastic reads!

Summary Prognosis 
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown reminded me of why I loved vampire books in the first place. It's a fresh story, macabre, horrifying and equal parts enthralling. I loved the story, I loved the characters and I loved the dark mystery behind it all. And if you have the chance to listen to the audio version, I highly recommend it because the narration and the production value ups the ante on the story's creepiness. This book is sure to top my list of favourites this year, of that I have NO doubt. 

Rating: ★★★★★

Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website


  1. YES to all of this! I love this book SO HARD. This is the book I creepily force people to borrow, in an attempt to create an army of Holly Black fanatics. In fact, my copy is currently on loan right now. I'm still kind of amazed that she managed to do a vampire story in a genuinely new and original way. And I love that her vampires were actually scary! I was hooked from the beginning and flew through this one.

    1. Haha, I like your style! I think I will be creepily forcing this onto other people as well! New and original is hard to come by so yeah, Black's got this down. This was a book club pick and an AMAZING one at that!

  2. Also wanted to add that I have a lot of love for this cover. Just gorgeous, and the font is perfect.

  3. I'm so glad you loved this! I have a copy but I haven't had time to read it yet. Plus I've read a few lukewarm reviews and I was worried that I wasn't going to love it. But I trust you! Thanks for the review, Nikki!

    1. Ya know, as an avid horror fan, I can vouch for this one. It was really entertaining and very well done, especially in such an overdone genre. I really think you'll like this one!

  4. No love triangle? Thank. God. Count me in!

    1. I KNOW!!!! Trust me, it's pretty amazeballs!

  5. My favorite part about this book was that it was darker and I love vampires in my books! It still wasn't my favorite though because the love story line was obvious and nothing new.

    1. Yeah, that was my favourite thing about it too. I did like how she used a blend of vampire mythologies in this one story, so while it wasn't anything totally new, it was different from I've been seeing. So I appreciated that, for sure.

  6. Absolutely amazing!!! Loved the story. Absolutely in love with the characters. I want to go to coldtown. Go Holly Black!
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