📚 The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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Description⎮Reviewed Oct. 2018

Narrator: Christine Lakin
Length: 12 hours 6 minutes
Publisher: Hachette Audio⎮2013

Synopsis: 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 best-selling and acclaimed author Holly Black.



4★ Audiobook⎮ I’m a big fan of Holly Black. I already heard of several of her titles, but The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was so unlike any of them. It almost felt like she was experimenting. In some ways it worked and in others it didn’t. But I’ve got to hand it to her, when Holly black does something, she does it her own way.

When I first started The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I was expecting it to be about zombies. I’m not sure what gave me that initial impression, but finding out that it was about vampires was a pleasant surprise. While back, I got really into Vampire Lit before indulging so much that I became burned out on it (that’s a common theme with me). After that, I actively tried to stay away from vampire fiction. If I had known The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was about vampires, I probably still would have given it a shot just because of Holly Black, but I likely would have gone into it with a more guarded mindset.

I’m glad that wasn’t the case, because my open-mindedness allowed me to accept whatever Black threw at me. She’s such a talented writer with an inventive mind. A big complaint that I have about Vamp Lit is the cookie-cutter-ness of it all (for lack of a better term). Most vampire fiction feels the same. Sure, each author gives it their own flavoring, but it usually feels like they are working from the same recipe. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown did not give me that impression. This was trademark Holly Black from the start.

However, something about it just didn’t line up for me. I really enjoyed the first 50-60%, right up until they arrived at the Coldtown. I was into Tana’s story and the ragtag little group she assembled while journeying to the Coldtown. I really loved the folklore of it all. That’s what Holly Black does best.

But once they reached the Coldtown, I got lost in the vampire politics. That angle really stalled the progression of the story and I had no interest in even trying to keep all of the Coldtown residents separate in my mind, much less their centuries long backstories. That part of it felt very Anne Rice to me, which was a major fail. As I’ve said, My favorite thing about Holly Black’s writing is her originality, so seeing her try to mimic someone else was a huge disappointment.

At that point, I had become so disenchanted with the story that I actually stopped listening for several months. When I finally try to come back to it, I was unable to recapture my initial enthusiasm for the story. I appreciate what Black was trying to do with it, but I don’t think vampires are her strong point.

Narration review: My favorite thing about Christine Lakin’s narration was the tone of her voice. It was soothing and almost sensual, reminding me of a “whiskey voice”. Needless to say, that’s not something I often hear when listening to YA and I totally dug it. It made the character of Tana stand apart from all of the other teen heroines I’ve heard. She sounded dark and mysterious, which helped define her character.

Other than that, there’s not much else to say about Lakin’s narration. She did an adequate job providing character distinction for the secondary characters, but nothing extraordinary. The way she voiced the vampires put me off a little. It was too stereotypical (think Dracula). Overall, it was just sort of “Meh” for me, but so was the book. I’ll have to hear Lakin perform another title to know how much my opinion of the story was influencing my assessment of her narration. ♣︎

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