The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Retro Review

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black
Narrated by Christine Lakin
Young Adult Horror
12 hours and 6 minutes on Unabridged Audio
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 Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

My Thoughts

2.5 evil kitties actually and, yes, I do realize this title was named for me!

Seriously though, I was really looking forward to Holly Black’s take on vampires. She has a lush beauty about her writing that I love and she never shies away from the ugliness that inhabits the lives of her characters. Her characters can be jerks, this is sometimes why I like them, and they always manage to keep my attention. I can’t say this was the case here and I sleepwalked through most of the story.

It started out great. Tana wakes up from one hell of a party to find a bloodbath has occurred while she was passed out. All of her party-going friends are dead and she sits down in a pool of blood to ponder things. The descriptions are bloody and my hopes were high. But then she finds her ex-boyfriend Aiden and a handsome young vampire fellow who she doesn’t know (his name is Gavriel and you know that no normal boy has such a lovely name, right?). They are all tied up but very much alive. The ex-boyfriend bites her. He’s been infected by vampire venom and can’t resist. She sets them free and fearing she’s infected, the trio head to a place called “Coldtown” where infected humans and vampires co-exist in a stew of decadence. You can check into Coldtown but there’s no way you’re ever checking out. Were it me I’d have run screaming, “So long suckers!” and left them there to have a bit fun with each other but Tana is kind of a danger whore (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and off they go.

Here the action and an endlessly meandering plot take over and turn what’s left of my brain right the heck off. There are some gorgeous descriptions of blood and the orgasmic rush of drinking it that bring me back to the days of Poppy Z. Brite’s earlier works. Black thanks her, along with Anne Rice and a slew of other gothicy writers in the end notes. The violence was front and center but this wasn’t enough to keep my attention. The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of fleshed out characters. I could picture in my head exactly what everyone was wearing right down to their perfect application of glittery blue eyeliner but I never felt as if I knew any of them and could care less if they lived or lost their heads. After a while they all became a blur and secondary to the action.

And then there’s Gavriel and Tana’s romance. I’ve read too many of these books and knew from the moment the author stated his name that they were going to look deep into each other’s kohl rimmed eyes and lose their shit even though I was hoping for something (lord please anything) else to occur. Ok, so what if I was secretly hoping that Gavriel and Aiden would have a thing and surprise me in a good way? But no. It played out exactly as I feared it might. The romance could’ve been salvaged had it been fleshed out even a smidge. As written? Well, I wish it hadn’t happened.

Narration Notes: The narration by Christine Lakin was amazing. I’d give her performance 5 blood stuffed stars and advise you listen to this story on audio if you have a desire to read it. Her voice was smoky and sensual and perfect for the content. If it weren’t for the great narration I might’ve deleted this from the Ipod after the first half.

So, to wrap this up there’s action (my downfall so perhaps that’s the biggest issue), rapturous bloodsucking, a big bad that wasn’t, a lot of death and a little lusty-lust but none of it was all that riveting, if you're asking me.


  1. So I really enjoyed this retro review having not seen it before. I own this book...on my Kindle I believe. There's a small hope that I don't and after reading this, I'm hoping that is the case so I won't feel driven to read this. Which is a shame, because a lot of your review sounds really awesome and up my alley...until Gavriel. I had hoped it was originally a type but see that isn't the case ( you don't make typos so I should know better). Please, like you said, a name like that spells the inevitable. He doesn't sparkle does he? I'm being rather snarky so I guess it's been a long day. Either way, I really like character driven books so that might be my biggest issue as well were I to read this.

    1. It was such a disappointment. I had high expectations because everything I've read by Black was dark and amazing and surprising. This one was just borrrring. I don't remember anything sparkling about Gavriel besides maybe his glittery guy-liner. Ugh, it all felt so early 90's.

  2. I didn't mind this book, but I thought the ending was a bit of a let-down.

  3. Oh no! I have this book sitting on my kindle. It may have to sit there for a while longer.

  4. I am sorry the story did not live up to your expectations. I hate when that happens.

  5. I had a better time with this book than you did. I really thought Black has done a splendid job with her version of vampires. Aw. Sorry it wasn't up to your liking. :( I hope you'll enjoy her other works, though.

  6. I've never really taken to Holly Black because I never seem to like her MCs. Unlike you I have no patience for idiot characters as my heroes! Great review!

    1. She does have a knack for writing characters who are very hard to like.

  7. Darn, only 2.5? I've heard good things about this from other bloggers and it sounds interesting and it's one I kind of want to read. I like vampires and like seeing different takes on them. I've never tried any Holly Black though, so I have no clue if I like her writing. By the way, was "So long suckers!" an accidental pun? Lol.

    The characters sound kind of disappointing, but I do love me some orgasmic descriptions of blood drinking, haha. Although now you also have me really wanting to read a book in which the two guys involved in the love triangle or whatever just end up with each other. But anyway, I'll probably still give this a try at some point. Great review!

    1. The pun was purely accidental ;) I hope you enjoy it more than I did Kristen. I was so sad because I typically enjoy Black's dark-hearted characters but this time it just didn't' work out.

  8. I haven't read any of her books, but wanted to read this when it came out. Well, now I don't feel so bad about forgetting about it. :D


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