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Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Book Review

26032912._SY475_Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Rating: XXXX

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

The Wicked King by Holly Black

26032887The Wicked King by Holly Black

Rating: XXXX

Published January 8th by Hot Key Books

Kiss me until I am sick of it”

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her, even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

(Also this review will contain no spoilers for The Wicked King, I cannot guarantee any non spoiler content for the first book in the series, The Cruel Prince.)

I read the first book in this series, The Cruel Prince on release last year after being super excited for when Holly Black herself told us all about it at the event with her and Cassandra Clare the year before and for those who have seen the review I did for it on YouTube last year you’ll know how much I loved it and it really heightened my love for the Hate/Love troupe and for potentially morally ambiguous murder girls like Jude. So suffice to say I’ve been pretty excited for this sequel since the moment I read the last page of The Cruel Prince and although I wasn’t able to get this one dead on release day this time, I did get it a week later and absolutely devour it the moment I got it and at every available opportunity afterwards until I finished it.

The Wicked King has a similar tone to The Cruel Prince but with much higher stakes, the way Jude is treated as Seneschal to the High King is obviously different to how she was treated as a mortal child, weather “daughter” of the high general or not but she still faces the same kind of degradation and mocking, it’s just a lot more underhanded but no less impactful. What does change the way a lot of these moments play out is Jude’s reaction to these occurrences and how her actions in retaliation can have a larger ripple affect in all of her plans and potentially the future of Elfhame. I enjoyed the new dynamic as I always used to read a lot of Historical Fiction with a large amount of under handed court scheming and the like so this felt like very familiar territory and done especially well i that style that Holly Black has where she can make everything seem beautiful and mesmerising yet deadly and terrifying all at once.

We got to see a lot more of the inner workings of the High Kings court in The Wicked King then we did via the Court of Shadows previously which I found interesting but occasionally they were sandwiched in between some other really tantalising part of the story and I found myself racing through those parts to get back to it, a little like most of the Sansa Stark chapters in the Game of Thrones books (unrelated note – Sansa is so much more awesome in the show). This wasn’t a huge problem by any means but I think it might have affected my rating a little because it sticks out in my mind as making the middle feel a little slow or frustrating which is crazy because they were still written well and fairly interesting they just had the misfortune to be placed between parts I was desperate to get back to. That being this may have a just been a great tension building technique that may have gone over my head.

Locke, Cardan and Jude were all brilliantly terrible as they were originally, by terrible I mean I like that everyone is morally grey and for want of a better term to describe them “chaotic neutral” in that they are just as much likely to stab you in the face as help you depending on their mood and thanks to Holly this is easily becoming one of my favourite types of characters. I love that Cardan is so hard to read, for Jude and for me as the reader, there’s just something about feeling like you can never truly trust any of these characters that I adore and Cardan is one hundred percent the best example of that. Taryn was another character I think excelled in The Wicked King, especially in the latter half of the book, I found her quite irritating in The Cruel Prince and although we see less of her in the sequel, what we do see of her is brilliant.

I won’t speak too much on the ‘relationship’ between Jude and Cardan but although I know the “I hate you because I love/want you” is not a healthy basis for a real life relationship in any way shape or form, especially with the lengths of cruelty and manipulation these two can take it too but that is the beauty of Fiction because for these characters especially it suits so well and I’m so very here for it, especially with it being a very two way thing between them both. Also the quote “Kiss me until I’m sick of it” is probably one of my top ten favourite quotes of all time.

As expected I was completely blown away by the last one hundred pages and made the mistake of staying up late to finish it as I couldn’t put it down and then being unable to sleep for thinking “well, what comes next” for the next two hours. If you loved or enjoyed The Cruel Prince I definitely recommend picking up its sequel for more of the same great content but with higher stakes, more Jude murdering, more Jude and Cardan, more fae scheming and back stabbing – lots of my favourite things.