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The Poison Eaters and Other Stories

Pick your poison: Vampires, devils, werewolves, faeries, or…?

In her debut collection, Holly Black returns to the world of Tithe in two darkly exquisite new tales. Then Black takes readers on a tour of a faerie market and introduces a girl poisonous to the touch and another who challenges the devil to a competitive eating match. Some of these  stories have been published in anthologies such as 21 Proms, The Faery Reel, and The Restless Dead, and many have been reprinted in many “Best of ” anthologies.

The Poison Eaters is Holly Black’s much-anticipated first collection, and her ability to stare into the void—and to find humanity and humor there—will speak to young adult and adult readers alike.

Table of Contents

  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
  • A Reversal of Fortune
  • The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  • The Night Market
  • The Dog King — listen to it on Podcastle
  • Virgin
  • In Vodka Veritas
  • The Coat of Stars
  • Paper Cuts Scissors — listen to it on Podcastle
  • Going Ironside
  • The Land of Heart’s Desire
  • The Poison Eaters


The Poison Eaters Anthology was nominated for a Locus Award in 2011, along with the short stories “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” (The Eternal Kiss), and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in 2010, and “The Night Market ” in 2005. The short story “The Coat of Stars ” was nominated for a Gaylactic Spectrum Awards — for SF/F/H on GLBT themes – in 2008.


Black doesn’t strike a sour note in the bunch. Plus, the small, detailed pen and ink illustrations by Black’s hub Theo add a distinctly melancholic touch. So go ahead drink some Poison—it’s good for you!

—Reading Rants

Black’s first story collection assures her place as a modern fantasy master…. Sly humor, vivid characters, each word perfectly chosen: These stories deserve reading again and again.

—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

‘The Land of Heart’s Desire’ shows Black doing what she does best, which an outlook that’s neither too fey nor too cynical, as young humans confront faerie in the big modern city. They’ll learn about each other and themselves, from the inside out.

—Faren Miller, Locus

I’m impressed by the freshness of Black’s treatment of old, worn conventions, for she uses her characters’ consciousness of the conventions to stretch and explore them rather than make light of them, and by the insightful emotional intelligence of her characterizations.

—L. Timmel Duchamp, Strange Horizons

Black’s got all the supernatural bases covered: vampires, fairies, an elf, a unicorn, wolves, the devil, and a spell-wielding high school Latin club…. Although they are often centered on bleak, dark characters, the pieces inspire hope, are touching and delightful, and even turn the most ghoulish characters into feeling beings.

—School Library Journal

An elegant and eloquent collection of dark fantasy and fairy tales that epitomizes some of the best writing those forms have to offer.

—Green Man Review

Compelling, rich and engaging.

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Black (the Good Neighbors series) proves equally adept at urban fantasy and more traditional fairy tales, and her stories often feature the edgy sexuality and angst that have become her trademarks.

—Publishers Weekly