“The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” puts a chilling spin on the vampire genre


Graphic courtesy of Estelle Wong

Leslie Farwell, Contributing Writer

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a young adult novel with both horror and drama elements in which author Holly Black puts a spin on the vampire trope. Unlike the title might suggest, this isn’t an off brand Twilight which is often associated with the word vampire. Black brings in her own unique taste to the trope, reviving it by challenging the typical pop culture narrative of sparkling individuals who want to be human once again.  

Tana Bach lives in a world where the threat of vampires and the Cold virus (the vampirism causing sickness) are very real. Individuals who fall into these categories are sent to Coldtowns, walled cities that keep vampires in and humans outside safe. After a sundown party goes wrong she finds all of her peers to be victims of vampires except for her ex Aiden and a mysterious vampire named Gavriel. The novel follows the loyal teen as she attempts to come to terms with the new reality she’s in and rectify past decisions. 

One of the ways she does this is by raising the stakes and making the threat of death imminent. In Tana’s case, things she believes are essential to survive inside the brutal walls of the Coldtown are consistently stripped away. Once an individual enters the gates of a Coldtown it’s nearly impossible to leave unless a special marker is obtained. These are retrieved either by personally turning in a vampire or purchasing one from an accredited bounty hunter for a high price.

Tana lacks the resources for the second option and decides to turn over her new found ally for a way out. Once inside, betrayal runs rampant as news of an infamous vampire and his henchman set their sights on several elite inside the walls. By doing this the risks felt real and that if plans A, B, and C didn’t work out there was nothing. Another thing that occurs throughout the story is that the idea of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer sticks out here, as Tana never knows who is going to betray her next and who will become an unlikely ally for a moment when startling new information is revealed at the climax. 

Black’s worldbuilding for this novel revolves around a dystopian reality, where society functions only during the day because monsters crawl around in the dark looking for their next victim. The story starts out in a smaller town scene that seems typical of a rural area where everyone knows each other. Later on the story shifts to a larger more post-apocalyptic city, where the elite throw everlasting parties in their palaces and a few streets down many adventure seekers find themselves living on the fringes of society. 

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this novel. Here and there a couple scenes felt rushed or unnecessary. For example, many of the beginning scenes with their journey to the Coldtown could’ve been summed up into one longer more consistent scene than constantly flipping settings. Other moments seemed a little rushed when new characters were introduced only for them to become irrelevant a few pages later. The ending was good in a frustrating way because it leaves you wanting more. 

Overall, I’d give it a four out of five stars because it was entertaining, the world building was intriguing, and was different from other vampire books without losing the Holly Black style of writing. If you’re looking for a book and are already a Holly Black fan, enjoy paranormal fantasy, or a quick read I think this would be worth a try.