10 September 2013

Bluest Hair in Coldtown: Book Launch and Review

Sorry for the delay in posting, but you know, sometimes Real Life interferes with Book Life. One week ago tonight, my coworkers and I hosted the launch party for Holly Black's latest novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, which is one of my favorite YA books for the season. When I'm really struck by a particular book and my store hosts an event for the author, I sometimes do wacky things like color my hair. For Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus from a couple of years ago, I went for a bright, fire engine red in honor of that book's reveurs. In honor of Tana, the heroine of Coldtown who has blue hair, and of Holly Black who also has blue hair, I decided to give myself blue hair for the day, too. I can't speak for Tana, but Holly's professionally-lightened-then-tinted hair looked considerably better than my spent-twenty-bucks-at-Sally's-for-temporary-blue, but it's the spirit that counts, right?

Holly with booksellers
I loved The Coldest Girl in Coldtown from page one, when I read it on the plane on my way to Anguilla for summer vacation a few months ago.  It's immediately engaging and well-written, and clearly this is not your daughter's vampire novel.  True, it's a young adult book, but Holly wrote this book in homage to the great vampire works she read growing up.  If you think vampire books begin and end with Twilight and thus haven't given them a fair shake, give this one a go.

Tana lives in a slightly futuristic world where a rogue vampire decided to break all of the ritualist rules of Vampire Secrecy by infecting hundreds and hundreds of people with the Cold, and they, in turn, infected thousands and thousands and so on. This created worldwide havoc, but at least in the US there are a handful of Coldtowns, where vampires and humans live side by side in an uneasy alliance: humans allow vamps to feed on them just a little via IV tubes rather than by biting (which spreads the Coldness), and therefore the vamps' food source doesn't dry up (literally) and the humans can keep on being human and not Cold.

One day, Tana wakes up from an all night party to discover she is the only partygoer left alive from a mass vampire attack. When she discovers Aidan, an exboyfriend infected with the Cold, and Gavriel, a mysterious but insane vampire, chained up in a bedroom, her split decision to try to rescue them both by driving to the nearest Coldtown (in Springfield, MA) changes all of their lives. You'll find no romanticized notion of vampires, no helpless heroine, and no love triangles here.  Instead, you'll get a moral-but-complicated-heroine who often doesn't know what the right thing to do is, plus a vampire who is unhinged, secretive, and seductive. It's hard to predict whether the denouement will bring revenge, romance, or revolution. In other words, this book is thoroughly fun and refreshing.
Holly, answering questions from the audience
We had a packed audience for Holly's reading, followed by a vigorous Q&A, where I was both disappointed and relieved to learn that Holly wrote Coldtown as a one-off.  I've been saying for the last three years that what I'd really like were fewer series and more substantive single novels being published with complicated and interesting heroines, hold the love triangles, please.  Holly delivered *precisely* that, but next time I'll include the caveat "unless I really like the heroine, in which case please write more."

Anna obligingly demonstrates the proper placement for candy fangs
Holly also brought candy fangs for the entire audience and passed them around in a basket. My bookstore gave away fang glitter tattoos to everybody who came, and the publisher provided us with Coldtown glowsticks to give away to the first 50 people who bought the book.  So all in all, it was a pretty kick-ass night.

In parting, here's a photo of me before the event--you cannot really tell, but there are actually three shades of blue happening in my hair.  And my eyebrows are slightly tinted, too.  That's bookseller dedication, peoples.  It took three showers to wash all of the residual blue out of my hair and nearly an entire bottle of conditioner to get my regular hair texture back to normal, but it's so worth it. And for any of you publishers out there who would like to subsidize a professional color coordination of my hair for your next big event, you know where to find me!


  1. I've been meaning to read this one. Holly Black is the coolest. And I COMPLETELY admire your dedication, O Hair Dyer.

    1. READ IT. READ IT NOW. Or at least immediately after The GOldfinch. You must keep reading the GOldfinch so we can talk about it.

      I think I'd look better with red, pink, or magenta hair.

  2. Oh, how cool! The first time you posted on this book I knew I had to read it. I tackled it about a week ago and loved it! The launch looks like it was a blast. Wish I could have been there!

  3. SO AWESOME. I would love to do something fun and crazy like dye my hair just in honor of a book event! I can't wait to read this.

  4. Love your hair! I have heard a lot about Holly Black in my YA class (though I got her name mixed up with the fairy character in the Artemis Fowl series, Holly Short) so I think I'll give this one a try!.


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