Sigh. What to say about Coldtown… This book had a lot of promise. Our initial main three characters are interesting and have a fun dynamic. Our protagonist Tana is just your regular girl with a sad past trying to make it in a world where vampires are real and live in military-policed quarantine zones called Coldtowns. Her charismatic ex-boyfriend Aiden and mysterious and insane vampire Gavriel join her on a mission to the nearest Coldtown that ends in her discovering quite the plot. This is where things start to fall apart.
Aiden is charming and he and Tana have TONS of chemistry, I mean loads of it. Gavriel is cool, but crazy, and there is zero, nada, zilch chemistry between Tana and Gavriel, yet this is the unfortunate romance which Black chooses to force on us.
Then, when you’re thinking this book might still be salvageable, Black shoots herself in the foot by somehow managing to craft the two most awful characters of all time. Not sure what more there is to say about Winter and Midnight, except that I stopped reading fanfiction as a teenager when I realized that 90% of fanfiction is written by the only people on earth who could possibly think anyone gives a singular fuck about teen angst: other teenagers, and, apparently, Holly Black. Listen, there’s no nice way to put this: Midnight and Winter are goddamn annoying, and the fact that Black tries to pull a plot twist on us by making these characters darker than we realized does literally nothing to make them even remotely more interesting.
This book had a lot of potential: the concept of coldtowns is well-fleshed out, and the backstory that Tana unravels is intriguing and could have made for a fantastic mystery adventure, but Black squandered way too much time on annoying side adventures with characters no one could possibly like, and put too much importance on a romance that couldn’t even have convinced me when I was 12. Ultimate verdict: Mediocre plot and awful romance set amidst incredible worldbuilding. Don’t recommend. Rating: 2.5 Mike’s Hard Lemonades on an already bad stomach. + 1 bonus kitten for –SPOILERS– a trans character who gets a happy ending.