The Good Neighbors, Book Two: Kith
written by Holly Black
illustrated by Ted Naifeh
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At this point, books about kids who have grown up feeling out of place and then become aware of their greater place in the supernatural world are almost a dime a dozen. Finding ones that stand out and take the genre into new and interesting territory is a distinct treat. Holly Black’s The Good Neighbors series is one of them.
The first book in the series, Kin, introduced us to Rue Silver, a sullen teen whose parents are undergoing what she thinks is a bitter yet standard divorce. Her father has apparently strayed from his wife, and her mother, very hurt by his actions, has left the home.
In the midst of all her emotional turmoil, a young woman at the university at which Rue’s father teaches is found dead. Rue’s father becomes the main suspect. Even worse, Rue struggles with strange visions of faerie creatures, monsters, evil-looking beings spouting dread warnings, and other oddities. And then, just to make things far, far worse, Rue’s grandfather Aubrey shows up.
Rue’s mother, Nia, it turns out, is a faerie herself. Her husband, Thaddeus, won the right to marry Nia when he passed a test enacted by Aubrey. Nia could remain in the human world along with Thaddeus as long as he remained faithful to her. But once that vow was broken, she would have to return, forever. Aubrey has more in mind, though. He wants Rue too.
Book Two, Kith, finds Rue trying to adapt to her new life, working with her core group of friends to thwart Aubrey’s plans, and trying to rescue her mother from the faerie world. There’s plenty of action, to be sure, but the real highlight is the eerie mood Black builds up throughout these first two books. Just as she demonstrated with her bestselling prose Spiderwick Chronicles, Black is adept at writing intelligent books aimed at teens and keeping the suspense elevated without letting up. And for her comics work here, she’s found the perfect partner for her delightfully creepy tale. The art by Ted Naifeh is a real standout.
The main problem with The Good Neighbors is the long wait between books. With a story that builds to such a cliffhanger ending and so masterfully hooks the reader in, it’s only natural to want more…and to want it quickly.