According to the acknowledgements section of the back of this book “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” is Holly Black’s first novel about vampires. The setup is very unique (at least unique from any other vampire stories that I’ve read before). In this world vampirism is almost like a virus. If a vampire fully drains a human of blood then nothing happens to the human but if the human is just bitten and left alive they are now infected. Two things can happen after the point of infection, aka “going Cold”, the human can wait out the infection for approximately 88 days or if they drink human blood they will officially turn into a blood thirsty vampire.
I liked how Black described her vampires; a mixture of the seductive myth as well as the older more gritty version. Vampires here crave blood but can learn control, can’t go out into the sun for fear of burning up, and can look utterly feral or charming. Getting turned is a sometimes brutal experience, pain mixed with pleasure, but people often seek it out so that they can be immortal.
This is one of the most logical views of vampirism I’ve read; I could see things turning out this exact same way if our current society were to discover there really are vampires among us. People know how dangerous vampires are because there are constant reports of murders and vampire hunting shows but it’s also glamorized on other channels where life is shown as an endless party. Plus I could definitely see the United States trying to handle a vampire outbreak by quarantining cities like they do in these Coldtowns.
The story starts with Tana waking up after a party which had turned into a massacre without her knowing it and the only other two people alive are her ex-boyfriend who has been infected and a chained up vampire with a very mysterious past. Tana, haunted by her mother’s death due to infection, decides to save them both. What she begins is a descent into the biggest and most famous Coldtown in America where she discovers more about the history of vampires than she’s ever seen televised before.
The characters were lively, the vampire mythos was well crafted and nothing was ever really as it seemed which was fantastic. My only question is whether or not this is a stand-alone or the beginning of a new series because it could honestly go either way. I loved it.