Black, Holly 1971-
BLACK, Holly 1971-
PERSONAL: Born 1971, in NJ; daughter of Donald (an insurance agent) and Judy (a painter and dollmaker; maiden name DeCamp) Riggenbach; married Theodor Black (a painter), 1999. Education: Attended Temple University; Trenton State College, B.A., 1994.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o The Gotham Group, Inc., 8721 Sunset Blvd., #205, West Hollywood, CA 90069. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Worked for d8 (magazine), New York, NY.
AWARDS, HONORS: America Library Association's Best Books for Young Adults, New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, both for Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale.
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.
"spiderwick chronicles" series
The Field Guide, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.
The Seeing Stone, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.
Lucinda's Secret, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.
The Ironwood Tree, illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.
ADAPTATIONS: The "Spiderwick Chronicles" series was optioned by Paramount Pictures Corporation and Nickelodeon Films.
SIDELIGHTS: Fantasy writer Holly Black reveals at her Web site that her mother, a painter and dollmaker, read her books about ghosts and faeries, which led Black and her sister to concoct their own witches' brews while they cared for their pet rats. Black got into Dungeons and Dragons role-playing as an adolescent, as well as punk rock, reading, and writing poetry. She attended college in Philadelphia, where she married Theodor Black, a painter, and they later moved to New Jersey, where she worked for the gaming magazine d8. Black also met illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, with whom she collaborates in writing their "Spiderwick Chronicles" series for young adults.
While Black and DiTerlizzi worked on the novels for the series, Black's Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale was published. The protagonist is sixteen-year-old Kaye Fierch, a high-school dropout who spends much of her time shoplifting and caring for her mother, a rock star wannabe who performs in third-rate clubs. When the mother's boyfriend becomes violent, they retreat to Kaye's grandmother's house on the Jersey shore, where Kaye reunites with childhood friend Janet and Janet's gay brother, Corny.
After a near-sexual encounter in an abandoned building with a boy, Kaye rescues Roiben, a beautiful, wounded knight with silver hair. A Publishers Weekly writer noted that "throughout, the author subtly connects Kay's awakening sexual feelings in the real world and Roiben's sudden appearances." Kaye soon comes to understand why faeries have been a part of her life since childhood. In fact, she is a changeling pixie, and her childhood faerie playmates return and entreat her to pretend she is human, so that they can use her as an offering to release them from the power of the dark Unseelie Queen. The plan is that Kaye's true nature will be revealed at the moment of sacrifice, after the faeries are granted seven years of freedom, and she will be saved.
School Library Journal's Beth Wright felt that "the greatest strength of the story lies in the settings, particularly the descriptions of the debased Unseelie Court." Booklist's Gillian Engberg called the faerie world "a bacchanalian hell described in remarkable detail," and the book, "dark, edgy . . . compulsively readable."
"Tithe is beautifully written," commented Maria Nutick for Green Man Review online. "Black has a rare gift for descriptive language and a deliciously creative imagination, which she combines to illuminate scenes with uncommon vibrancy. The first lines of the book snatched me up by the scruff of the neck and dropped me onto a stool in a cheap bar in Philadelphia; later her description of a faerie ball Under the Hill had me shivering with visions of debauchery. Her prose is evocative and poetic: a rich treat, like hot fudge for the imagination." Locus reviewer Carolyn Cushman described Tithe as "an unusually powerful YA contemporary fantasy," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor called it a "stunning debut. . . . A labyrinthine plot with Goth sensibility makes this a luscious treat for fans of urban fantasy and romantic horror."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale, p. 1064.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Tithe, p. 1303.
Locus, September, 2002, Carolyn Cushman, review of Tithe, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly, October 28, 2002, review of Tithe, p. 74.
School Library Journal, October, 2002, Beth Wright, review of Tithe, p. 158.
Green Man Review,http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (December 3, 2002), Marie Nutick, review of Tithe.
Holly Black Home Page,http://www.blackholly.com (March 14, 2003).