Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
Published November 19th by Hot Key Books
“You will be nothing. You are nothing…You come from nothing and it is to nothing you will return,” he whispers against my neck.
He will be the destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.
Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.
Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.
And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…
Queen of Nothing has been one of my most anticipated books to be released this year. I hadn’t been sure I enjoyed some aspects of The Cruel Prince but fell head over heels, irrevocably in love with The Wicked King and have been eager to get my hands on the conclusion to the trilogy since I read the last page of the second book. So much so in fact that I pre-ordered stupidly early and was lucky enough to receive my Waterstones edition (you get letters from Cardan to Jude included as an extra and if you ship those idiots then you will NOT want to miss out on this edition trust me) almost a week before the official release date but I had agreed to wait until my friend received hers to read it so I patiently waite (By patiently I mean that I got my taller than me, husband to hide my copy on top of the board games which are, in turn, on top of my bookshelves so I couldn’t reach it). When the time came to start it I may have then read it over the course of about two days. I know a lot of people have read it much quicker, some in one sitting but I had NaNoWriMo to contend with and a four-year-old who isn’t at school much so I’m pretty proud of what I did manage.
So now to discuss the book itself…I definitely enjoyed it, maybe on par with The Cruel Prince or a little lower. If I had to rank them in order I would say that Queen of Nothing was probably my least favourite but it was just in good, just in different ways. The Cruel Prince was, I think, the forming of Jude, in The Wicked King we see her coming into her own and then in Queen of Nothing she is out of her comfort zone and we see yet another side to Jude that is something between the two versions I think that we’ve seen so far. Jude has become one of my favourite fictional characters over the course of these books for many different reasons, I love that she’s smart but not to the point of absolute cockiness, she makes mistakes and she admits them, she’s conniving and she plays people and tricks them like the best (and worst) of the fey and I love that she just feels so unapologetic. “What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.” or in this book “I feel like a constellation of wounds, held together with string and stubbornness.” Jude is strong on so many different levels and I love her.
I loved seeing other sides to a lot of the other characters as well, especially a bit more of an insight into Maddoc and Tayrn and my boy Cardan really made me proud in this book too. A new character that was introduced quite early on in this book who had been mentioned at least in passing previously was a great addition too and one that became a firm favourite of mine too, particularly how she was brought into the story. A lot of the relationships, not just romantic ones got a lot of attention in this book as well which was a welcome addition and one much needed, I think, in a third book as we already know the characters fairly well but how they interact with each other and their reasons for doing so adds another needed level to them. I’m glad the members of the Court of Shadows their own part in the story too and no one was really forgotten, the good and the bad.
There wasn’t a whole lot of world-building in Queen of Nothing but as the third book in a trilogy set in the same places as the first two books it didn’t really need it, I particularly loved the fey presence in the human world and would honestly love a book or group of short stories around the folk there as I found the concept a really interesting one. Some of the insights we did get however was a little more information regarding the political side of the Fey Courts and some great new lore.
As for the plot and story itself, it was enjoyable but probably the least strong out of the three books. There are the odd few little twists and one that was a little shocking but I don’t think it really had the effect on me that it was meant to for some reason or another, whether that’s because I had come to expect big twisty moments from these books and over-hyped it for myself or because it seemed like something I expected or at the very least expected to be solved I’m not sure. I liked that it wasn’t completely out of left field though and made a lot of sense. The story is well-paced for the most part although I did find the last third felt a bit off balance especially the part that I imagine would be the last climax of the story. Again, it wasn’t bad and it could genuinely be my expectations and the final book curse, I often don’t really like final books and have found very few that fully meet my expectations or hopes and feel flat. Queen of Nothing isn’t the worst final book I’ve read but doesn’t quite make it into some of the best, this is all personal opinion though and I know a lot of people really did enjoy the ending. I enjoyed the ending but just felt that bit before needed some more whammy to it.
Overall the book really is a great read that I enjoyed reading I just wish it wasn’t the end although I don’t think there’s really much else to do with the story now in a vein that I would enjoy or perhaps do it justice. Either way, this is a series I’ve loved and I think will stick with me for a good long while, especially some of the beautiful quotes Holly has given us throughout the three books.