The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: Review And Giveaway

January 15, 2014 2014, 3 star books, giveaway, Kim, paranormal, vampires 100 ★★★

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: Review And GiveawayThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Published by Little Brown on September 3, 2013
Genres: paranormal
Pages: 419
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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.

While I enjoyed this book overall, I couldn’t escape the gnawing feeling that there was something missing here for me. Were my expectations too high? Maybe. Perhaps it was unfair to read this so soon after I finished the very excellent Eternity Cure.

The premise here is exciting and original. I was positively shaking in terror throughout the first chapter. Unfortunately, that was the only real sense of danger I felt throughout the rest of the reading experience. There were some tense moments, sure, but I never felt as completely drawn into the world as I did in that first chapter. The pacing is easily the weakest part of Coldtown. It felt like nothing of real consequence or importance happened throughout the entire middle portion. If this were a shorter book, or more tightly plotted, it would have been more effective and enjoyable. Still, there are enough moments of atmospheric and delicious creepiness that shine through. Oh, and snark. Can’t forget the snark.

Mainly told in third person limited from Tana’s POV, there are also occasional switches to other perspectives, some even to the past that serve to flesh out the characters’ backstories. While informative and important, I often felt frustrated as I just wanted to get back to Tana’s situation.

I did enjoy the characters, even though I didn’t have as much of a connection with Tana as I would’ve preferred. That was definitely one of the “missing” things, I think. I’m not sure if it was the third person limited narrative or not (I tend to prefer first person), but the strong emotional connection just didn’t forge. However, I did find her to be courageous and capable. I thought Gavriel (the “mysterious boy” from the summary) was intriguing and appealing without being too broody. He’s also not the typical “I hate being a monster” nice guy vampire we often find in these sorts of stories. For me, he struck the right balance of being one of the “good guys”, but very much still a cold, dead vampire. It was refreshing.

The secondary characters were all delightful (except for the ones who clearly are not supposed to be). I did find the roguish Aidan to be “exasperatingly endearing” just like the blurb promises. I was also easily fond of Tana’s human friends in Coldtown, Jameson and Valentina. Can I tell you how much I love the fact that Valentina is a transwoman? I am always thrilled with trans* representation in YA. It was really wonderful to see.

The blurb might cause you to worry about a love triangle, but rest assured that is not the case. There’s hardly any romance at all. Much less than I prefer. However, what we did get was hot. Moar please!! See, my friends? I told you. I always want more romance. Especially sexy, sexy vampire romance.

The ending is pretty satisfying as a standalone, but I’d be happy to read more about Tana’s adventures in Coldtown should there be a sequel. I really did care about Tana and her fate, despite the dragging middle parts. Overall, it was an enjoyable read and one that I’d recommend to fans of vampires and urban fantasy, and especially those who don’t want a lot of romance.


divider vine cropped
Win a Copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown!

If you’d like to find out for yourself whether this book lives up to the hype, we have a copy to give away thanks to our friends at Little Brown! Just leave a comment below and fill out the Rafflecopter form.

Open to US and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. Please see the contest form for complete rules. Good luck!

A finished copy was provided by the publisher for this giveaway.

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100 Responses to “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: Review And Giveaway”

  1. Meghan

    I saw this on a buzzfeed list of great YA books to read and ever since the I have wanted to read it, it sounds interesting!

  2. Vanessa

    I’ve heard a lot about the book and was just hoping to read it. :)

  3. Tabitha the Pabkins

    I can’t say I even know exactly why I loved this one so much. It might have something to do with Holly Black’s writing style. I adore it. From the point when I read her Tithe, valiant and Curse Worker book 1 I knew I’d probably enjoy her other books. I agree Eternity Cure is much stronger than this one – but I liked the premise of this. Perhaps though some things were a tad convenient.
    Tabitha the Pabkins recently posted…Teaser Tuesday: Between & The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz

    • Kim

      Yes, sometimes the exact reasons why we enjoy (or don’t a enjoy) a book can elude us. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tabitha. I didn’t really care for Tithe at all, but at least I enjoyed this one more. Final opinion is still out on Ms. Black for me.
      Kim recently posted…Cruel Beauty: review

  4. Alba M

    There are so many mixed reviews on this book! Still i would like to read it and see for myself.

  5. fishgirl182

    I have not read this one yet but have heard good things about it. I do get annoyed though when nothing seems to happen in the middle of a book. I wonder if I will feel the same way as you about the pacing when I read it. Thanks for the review!
    fishgirl182 recently posted…Stacked (90)

  6. Remy Blu

    I loved this book so much. I was part of a Blog Tour for it, but I didn’t get to keep the ARC. It’s one of my favorites and I’d love to have a copy.

    You pointed out something that actually ended up being one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book so much; the lack of romance/love triangle. There was just a smidgen of romance in this book, but nearly enough to make this a Paranormal Romance. When was the last time there was just a Paranormal book?

    Thanks for this giveaway!
    Remy Blu recently posted…Lockdown: Escape from Furnace

    • Kim

      Ohhh I love that you love it, Remy!

      Yeah, I *really* don’t like love triangles. Like, if one of the (almost always it’s a guy) guys is obviously no good I am frustrated that any time is being spent on him. If they’re both awesome I get frustrated because that’s not fair! Ha. And both ways I’m always full of tension and anxiety over who will be chosen. I really don’t care to feel that sort of tension and anxiety! I can always do without it.

      And heh. Yeah, I guess just paranormal is rare? It’d have to be *really* good for me to read just plain ol’ paranormal. PNR is one of my all time favorite genres.
      Kim recently posted…Reviews: Going Rogue and Burn Bright

  7. Natasha

    I would love to read this one because I have had it on my TBR list since it came out and it sounds amazing!

  8. Stephani

    I heard a lot of mix reviews on this, usually i like to read something first before i judge from other reviews. I have heard many people say pretty much the same as you and i also heard some loved everything about it. I am also a huge fan of Vampires..who isn’t now days? i would like to read this one and see what the hype is about for sure. i hate feeling like i am missing out on something.
    Stephani recently posted…Blog Tour: Review & Author Giveaway ~ The Promise by Apryl Baker

  9. Diane S

    This book has been on my TBR for a while now. I can’t truly explain why, it just peeks my interest. I have heard most of the mixed reviews about it, I tend to find that those are the ones I enjoy the most….versus the ones that everyone raves about.

    • Kim

      There’s only one way to see how you’ll find it. ;) I totally get what you mean, though. There’s a sort of adventure in finding what you’ll think of something that’s had such mixed reviews. Which side will *you* land on?!? :)
      Kim recently posted…Dress the Part: Cress

  10. starryeyedjen

    I agree…that first chapter was phenomenal, but it didn’t quite set the tone for the rest of the story, did it? At least not in the way I was expecting. Still, I rather enjoyed this, though I also agree that The Eternity Cure was better by far, especially when it comes to the MC. And that’s kind of funny since a vampire girl felt more human and relatable than a girl who needed to prove she wasn’t a vampire. Oh, well…I’d still read a sequel if one were to be announced. ;)
    starryeyedjen recently posted…The Weekend Update – 1.18.14

    • Kim

      Our opinions could not possibly line up more! Like you, I *did* like this, but my standards are so high with vampires. I *love* Allison. You are so right in that she’s much more human. Strange that a vampire character seems more human than an actual human character from Coldtown.

      Please do freak out with me when The Forever Song is released. I fear that very badddddd things will happen!
      Kim recently posted…Dress the Part: Cress

  11. Marlene

    Hi Kim! Though you had some problems with Coldtown, I’m glad there were other aspects you fully enjoyed. This is a well-balanced review! I’ve never read anything by Black before, so I’m not exactly sure where to begin with her work. But I do find a lot of the elements in this story intriguing. However, I do worry about not connecting with the MC. Hmmm. This is tough. If you or anyone else has any input/advice, I’d love to hear it! :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review
    Marlene recently posted…Mark Your Calendars! The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

    • Kim

      The first chapter is so good there is no doubt you’ll be pulled in. Things slow down fairly quickly, though. If you give it a shot, you’ll know by, like, chapter 6 or so whether or not it’s working for you. It’s worth a shot!
      Kim recently posted…Dress the Part: Cress

  12. ashley

    Um. One can NEVER forget the snark. That being said, I understand where you’re coming from. I had the hardest time getting into this book, which was sad for me because I was SO excited about it. But something fell..flat for me.
    ashley recently posted…Vitro by Jessica Khoury

  13. Lucy

    I listened to the audio last fall and Coldtown was a fun spooky book. But like you, there was something that kept me from completely loving it. Maybe I’ll try The Eternity Cure sometime though!

    • Kim

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Lucy! Yesssssss. Read The Eternity Cure! Just fyi, in case you didn’t know, that it is Book 2 of a yet to be completed trilogy. Book 1 is called The Immortal Rules and they are by Julie Kagawa. *Strongly* recommended for fans of gritty, urban fantasy, vampires, and *romance*!! Yay!

  14. Jenni

    I totally agree about the pacing on this one. I’m a pretty impatient reader so I found myself dreadfully bored through much of this book which it made it not work for me at all. I also found the MC’s reasons for going to the extremes that she did to be lacklustre at best. I mean, the girl didn’t even know if she was infected or not but there she went on her suicide mission. Anyway, happy to see that this one did work better for you in the end than it did me.
    Jenni recently posted…Review: Fake ID by Lamar Giles

    • Kim

      Oh yes, I totally get what you’re saying. Her reasoning was definitely iffy, but I just get distracted by sexy vampires and start forgiving books and MC’s for their flaws. It’s a personal failing. :p

  15. Savannah

    This is a book that I really enjoyed. I admit I don’t often pick up paranormal books because I felt like they gotten tired out but this book I really loved.

    • Kim

      I think it’s an impossibility for me to ever get tired of paranormal, and especially not vampires. I was just 11 when Buffy started airing. Formative times! I blame Buffy for everything. Aaaannnnyway, I’m super glad you loved this! :)
      Kim recently posted…Dress the Part: Cress

  16. Michelle{bookhangovers}

    I entered the giveaway!! :) This book has been on my TBR list so I enjoyed reading more about it! Thanks for the review!

  17. Tanya

    This book has been so high on my TBR. I love the fact that it brings new life to the (overly) crowded vampire genre. I’m so intrigued!

  18. Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I’m always up for urban fantasy with minimal romance, though I’ll have to temper my expectations with this one. I’m a fairly huge fan of Black as her Curse Workers Trilogy is a favorite of mine but this doesn’t seem to be up to those standards, but perhaps if I read it without expecting her usual prose or characterization I’ll enjoy it. Great review, Kim! :)
    Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings recently posted…Review: You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

    • Kim

      Oh, it sounds like you’ll really enjoy this one, Keertana! I hope you do. I’ve only read this and Tithe, which I didn’t care for much. I’m going to give one more book a shot and then decide if she’s for me or not. I hadn’t heard of The Curse Workers trilogy before, but I think I’ll give it a go. :)
      Kim recently posted…Dress the Part: Cress

    • Kim

      It is a lovely cover. *sigh*

      There’s not enough vampire sexing. That’s why.

      One day I will have a tattoo. For now I just settle for Tattly.

  19. Darith L.

    I want to win because it’s a new take on vampires, and who doesn’t like some real bad-ass vamps for a change?

  20. Ann

    I’ve heard many glowing reviews about this. Sorry to hear it didn’t really live up to your expectations. Based on the synopsis, it does sound like a book I would enjoy reading.

    • Kim

      Totally. To each her own! Always. It’s strange how often 3 stars can seem like a disappointment. I really did like it, it just wasn’t anything special to me.

  21. Jessica Cooley Meyer

    I have to say I’m a girl with book problems…I’ve I read one of Holly’s books and really don’t like it all that much but I did like the Spiderwick Chronicles then I read a couple of her short stories and really like this I’m really on the fence about Holly and winning this book for the correction for me decide where she goes in my like dislike category.
    Jessica Cooley Meyer recently posted…Best Adult of 2013

    • Kim

      Yeah, I get that. I read Tithe ages ago and it would be a 2 star read, I’d say. I enjoyed this much more than that, but haven’t read anything else by her. I hope you like this, though!

  22. Katelynn @ Unlucky Primes

    I’ve only seen glowing reviews of this, so it’s interesting to hear some other commentary.

    I’ve been dying to read this since the cover first taunted me at the library, but it wasn’t until I heard about the LGBT representation in the book that I knew I had to make it a priority!
    Katelynn @ Unlucky Primes recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday || 2014 Debuts

    • Kim

      Yesssssss. I just loved the trans* representation. Huge props from me! I’d love to hear what you think if you give it a read!

    • Kim

      Thank you, dear. :) Yeah, I completely get it. I think most have a good feeling for whether they’ll like this one or not.

  23. charlee alsup

    This book sounds amazing and I would love to read it for myself.

  24. Texas Book Lover

    I usually like quite a bit of romance in my books too but if the rest of the book holds my attention and there is at least a bit of romance I will still be happy!

    • Kim

      I think you’ll be happy there then! Where there isn’t necessarily romance, there is tension and who doesn’t love that? ;)

    • Kim

      If you like Holly Black, I bet you’ll love this, Emily! The romance was minimal, but I loved what we got! Moar please and thank you. ;)

  25. Nikki @ Foil the Plot

    I recently finished this one for my book club, and actually, I really loved it. Like, more than I expected (being that I’ve never read Black’s books before). As an unadulterated horror fan, I can appreciate how she made vampires scary again. She fused ancient legend pretty seamlessly with the modern world and simultaneously made it all her own and it worked. There’s enough originality but still creepy familiarity to keep me satisfied.

    And I do get what you’re saying about the pacing but it wasn’t really an issue for me because I loved the characters and the story so much. Plus, I think listening to the audio version really helped with that. It was fantastic!
    Nikki @ Foil the Plot recently posted…Need A Reality Check?

    • Kim

      Oh, I’m so glad to hear that you loved it, Nikki! The vampires *were* really creepy, and I appreciated that too. “Original but still creepily familiar” is hitting the nail on the head perfectly. I can’t really do audiobooks. I’m a visually reliant person, does that make sense? I like listening to audio of books I’ve already read when I’m doing chores and the like.

      • Nikki @ Foil the Plot

        Oh, absolutely makes sense! I do this a lot too, go back and listen to the audio versions of books I’ve already read. I think it adds a whole new level of understanding and enjoyment to said story. I’ve also learned that I fare much better with the high fantasy stuff when I’m listening to the audio version of a book. I think it helps me to keep all the characters in line since there’s a different voice attached to each one.

  26. Kate @ Ex Libris

    As someone who LOVES Holly Black but (for the most part) HATES vampire books, I really enjoyed this one. I think Black’s description of this word and of Coldtowns really fascinated me. I thought it was so weird that book with so little romance could be so sexy at times, but it really was!

    I also enjoyed The Eternity Cure, but that was a very different world, at least to me.
    Kate @ Ex Libris recently posted…The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

    • Kim

      Ha, that’s so funny, Kate. I have middling opinions on Holly Black but I LOVE vampire books. I agree, the Coldtowns were an interesting and unique component. The sexy parts really made it worth it to me. I am hopeless that way.

      And yes, The Eternity Cure is a very different world. Any book I read right after TEC would probably be at a disadvantage, but this one coincidentally (and unfortunately for it) was also about vampires.

  27. Wendy Darling

    I had pretty much the exact same reaction to this book, Kim. I quite liked the beginning, but I felt like it lost steam pretty quickly. Aside from a few odd moments here and there, the story just didn’t retain tension and urgency for me, and I didn’t find the plot or characters to be particularly outstanding. I did like it, mind you, I just didn’t love it.

    Have you read her other books? Because I think it may just be a taste thing on my end. I am always intrigued by her books’ blurbs, but this is the fifth book of hers I’ve read (I read all three faery books, White Cat, and this) and I never seem to love them as much as everyone else does. So I think fans of her other books would probably still enjoy this! I should just admit she’s probably just not the author for me. Oh, well.

    • Claire

      This is pretty much exactly how I felt, for the most part. I did have a pretty big soft spot for Gavriel.

      I have to admit, I was a little disappointed though. It was perfectly good, and I liked it, but the rest of the book just didn’t quite live up tot he first chapter, which is what sold it to me in the beginning.

      • Kim

        I liked Gavriel a lot myself. But I also just *really* like vampires. Cant. help. it. :p If there’s a book 2 maybe we’ll see improvements on book 1? Here’s hoping!

      • Wendy Darling

        I’m glad Kim and I aren’t the only ones to feel this way about Coldtown, Claire! It just wasn’t all that exciting, but maybe I’ve read too many vampire books to be wowed by it. I did like Gavriel, though.

    • Kim

      Ha, you put it all so much more eloquently than I can, Wendy. :) My feelings exactly.

      I read Tithe ages ago. Like, literally 9 years ago. And I didn’t care for it. Not *terrible* but I couldn’t say I liked it. I can’t remember now if I really don’t care for fairy stories or that it’s just that I didn’t care for *that* fairy story and so I think I don’t care for fairy stories and thus stay away from them. It might be the latter actually. :\ I didn’t even realize this was the same author at first! It was rather strange to discover. At this point Tithe is just part of a very fuzzy ether of forgettable books I read long ago. So…I really don’t know what to make of Holly Black!

      I think I’ll go one more book and then I’ll see. What makes me hesitant is how I discovered my love for Maggie Stiefvater recently. I read Shiver years ago and it was just okay for me (blasphemous, I know). I read Scorpio Races and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t all that. I read your review of The Dream Thieves and was intrigued and captivated. Then I saw The Raven Boys in a bookstore in Penn Station and did an impulse buy. I LOVE The Raven Cycle. Love love love. Even with a ridiculously large and ever growing tbr, I will re-read 1 & 2 before 3 comes out next fall. And it’s just very strange to me to have someone I consider a favorite author but have had such vastly different opinions on all of her books!

      • Wendy Darling

        I felt EXACTLY the same way about Tithe. Not terrible, but not great either–it was actually the reason I didn’t think I liked faery books for a long time (well, that and the long, drawn out Wicked Lovely books), but I think it was really just those stories. It could be we are Holly Black taste twins.

        And I actually have a similar issue with Miss Maggie. She is one of my favorite authors of all time–seriously, she is among a mere handful that I would (and have) literally run away from because some of her books just mean so much to me and I couldn’t handle a face to face meeting. I love love love Shiver with every breath in my body, but I had very mixed feelings about the two sequels, as well as her faery books. And I didn’t care for Scorpio Races at all, although that seems to be her most popular and most lauded title. I adore The Raven Cycle, though, and thank the gods for it, because I was beginning to think she was a one-note-goddess for me.

        Interesting how you and I have such different reactions to her books, though! As far as the other ladies are concerned, Tonya and I have exactly the same opinions about all her books (except she hasn’t read Raven Boys yet, had trouble getting into it), K really liked Shiver but stopped there because Tonya and I told her to, and Kate likes the Raven Cycle but was only so-so on Shiver from what I can remember.

        • Kim

          I’ve been thinking a lot recently on what it is exactly that makes me enjoy a book or not. What is it about books that aren’t objectively terrible that makes them not for me? Like, why didn’t I enjoy Shiver? I thought it was beautifully written, certainly. It ticks off lots of what I like: paranormal, romance, angst, atmospheric setting…but in the end I just didn’t connect with Sam and Grace. Why? Ugh, so frustrating.

          I still don’t know the answers, but I’m working on it. It’s strange that it can be so difficult to pin down.

          If I ever met Maggie I would do a weird flailing/flapping-of-arms-thing and be generally incoherent. It would become her new “Strangest Encounter with a Reader” story.

  28. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    Not much romance, that’s how I prefer my books :D It’s hard to live up to The immortal rules/Eternity cure, but it has been a while since I’ve read those. I’m looking for another vampire book and this doesn’t sound too bad despite it’s flaws :) It’s a shame that the rest of the book wasn’t as tense as the beginning!
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday 30.

    • Kim

      Oh give it a chance, Mel! You just might love it. :) You can always come to me for vampire recs. There is very little I love more in this world than vampires!

  29. Alise

    That’s too bad about the pacing, especially since it is somewhat of a large book. I have this one on my shelf but I just can’t bring myself to pick it up after all the mixed reviews. It does almost sound like a love triangle but that’s good to hear it’s not!
    Alise recently posted…ARC Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

    • Kim

      Dodged the love triangle bullet, whew! You’ll know fairly soon into it whether it’s for you or not. Pick it up from the library if you’re iffy and give it a try!

    • Kim

      I’m sort of the odd one out, though. Most seem to love this! I’m also not really a Holly Black fan so that’s sort of even more of an endorsement, right? Ha. Give it a shot, Jessika! You just might love it :)

  30. Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction

    I felt the SAME way! I love that intro…was just breathtaking and heart pounding. I felt as you did and that the stakes were never that high again. The middle section was very slow and I agree, nothing of real importance happened. I too liked the characters though I never related to the MC and I always questioned her decision making. I’d never have done things the way that she did. Great review Kim!
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

    • Kim

      The first chapter was *so* good. Did you see the book trailer for this? That’s what initially piqued my interest. It’s basically the first chapter, and it’s a truly great book trailer.

      I just have a total weakness for vampire stories so I think I tend to go a bit leniently on them. Tana, you’re surrounded by vampires! I don’t blame you for anything you do! Haha this is terrible, I know.

  31. Kris

    I’m sorry this book didn’t live up to your expectations. If I can’t relate to the characters, I typically can’t enjoy the rest of the book like I might’ve. I actually really liked this book though and would love to win a hardcopy to put on my shelves :)

    • Kim

      Oh, I’m so glad you liked it, Kris! I know what you mean about MCs. A disconnect with the MC is a struggle, but sometimes I find I enjoy the world of the story, or even the side characters enough to compensate. Good luck in the giveaway ;)

  32. Mary @ BookSwarm

    See, this review is why I love books. Each book garners such different reactions from people and strikes different chords — and it depends on mood, what you read prior (loved the Eternity Code; very hard to follow that one up). While I loved Tana and her strength and the book as a whole, I can see why parts of it frustrated you though, yay, for enjoying it overall!
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Waiting on…SIXTH GRAVE ON THE RIGHT by Darynda Jones

    • Kim

      EC was really great wasn’t it? I am *dying* for Book 3. But I digress!

      It’s just weird, Mary, because I really *did* like Tana and her adventures, I just didn’t *love* them. I think this was just longer than it needed to be, and had way less romance than it needed for me. :) I did love the twist, though. Twist was pretty good. Moar romance and moar vamping and I will happily read book 2 (if there is one).

      Also, I found out that I really love the name Tana!
      Kim recently posted…The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: Review And Giveaway