Tithe 13: Changing Lanes

It turns out that Kaye and I have a lot in common, apart from our shared name. For starters, she’s a terrible driver.

Kaye and Roiben go to see the Seelie Queen, thinking that Nephamael and Corny will be with her. To get there, Kaye “borrows” Corny’s car (with the keys conveniently hidden under the visor) and drives for the first time. At first she can’t figure out how to make the car go forward. Once she does hit the road, she’s scared to drive on the highway, has no idea how to merge, and can’t manage to park the car in just one space.

I think this, more than anything, takes me back to my teenage years. At least Kaye does much better her first time on the highway than I did.

Let me put it this way: I got pulled over for going too slow. Yeah, that’s a real thing that can happen.

Apart from that, the main similarity I saw between myself and Kaye was how she deals with her grief. This chapter is a whirlwind of emotion. She has to deal with Janet’s death (which she feels guilty for) at the beginning. When they reach the Seelie Court, she has to see Roiben admit that he loves the Seelie Queen, even if he no longer wants to be with her. There’s also anxiety when they learn that Corny and Nephamael aren’t with the Seelie Court, and Nephamael could have already killed his new “toy”.

But the emotional blow that intrigues me the most is Kaye seeing herself. Or, rather, the girl whose life she stole. As a changeling, she was given to her human mother, and the real Kaye stayed with the faeries. The human Kaye still looks like a child, even though the swap was made years ago. Pixie Kaye has no idea what to do with this, and finally runs out of the Court and waits for Roiben to meet with her.

This is one of the most compelling moments in the book for me. How do you face someone whose life you stole, even if you had no say in the matter? It doesn’t go beyond this in Tithe, but in the sequel, Ironside, Kaye has to return the stolen child to her mother.

There’s a lot that happens in this chapter, and Kaye can’t really get a grip on her emotions. Totally understandable, considering everything that’s on her mind. Her sadness and anxiety turn to anger, that she takes out on both Roiben, and Corny’s car. Her focus is only on getting Corny back, saying that he may very well be dead if they don’t get a move on. Which is true, but she also uses this as a distraction so she doesn’t have to think about everything else going on. If finding Corny takes priority, she can postpone figuring out her feelings and delay her grief.

What I noticed about the book now that I didn’t pick up on years ago was how disconnected this new quest feels from the first. For a book named Tithe, I expected the titular event to be the climax, not a second inciting incident. When Kaye escapes, we’re sent on almost a whole new journey. We’ve got a different villain and different goal. The latter part of the story feels like an entirely different book from the first one.

To me, it’s not as intriguing as the first part, either. What drew me in to Tithe in the first place was the urban fantasy aspect. It was the mystery of Kaye’s fae friends and the enigmatic Roiben, and Kaye learning what it means to be a faerie.My favorite elements of the story are the magical world bleeding into the real, non-magical one, with the protagonist belonging fully to neither. But towards the end, that idea is abandoned, with the story taking place almost entirely in the magical realm. It becomes a gender-swapped “save the princess” story. I’m not saying that Tithe‘s new direction is going to be a bad one, but I do expect the climax to be pretty big to beat “human sacrifice escaping from fae ritual”.

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