One More Installment of Violent Splendor | Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

7:00 AM

A tale of faeries. A tale of snakes. A tale of the games that play. And a tale of those who play said games. I AM GOING TO NEED AT LEAST A MONTH OF RECOVERY FROM THIS ONE, okay?

He will be 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…

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.


The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
Rating: ★★★★★

"Now, stuck in the mortal world for good, I miss Faerieland with a raw intensity. It's magic I long for, magic I miss. Maybe I even miss being afraid. I feel as though I am dreaming away my days, restless, never fully awake."

There are two things I learned whilst reading The Queen of Nothing: from now on, I have no choice but to read every magnificent form of violent splendor that Holly Black comes up with. I just have to. And two? I adore stabby faeries and two stabby dweebs named Jude and Cardan. But, we already knew that, right? I'M SOFT. They're secretly soft for each other and I'm sincerely not over this book so, give me a moment to collect my thoughts. (This could take a century and a half so we may be here a while.)

Also, I loved the previous book in the series so much I couldn't even form a coherent review for it. And, to be perfectly honest with you, I didn't even realized I hadn't written my review for it until I sat down to write this one. So, I'm over here trying to not fall over in my own excitement and I'll eventually review The Wicked King in depth.

For now, let's talk The Queen of Nothing and what scene I nearly spilled an entire cup of steaming coffee on the book. (Oh! Don't worry, it hit my leg instead. I was wearing shorts so it definitely stung. But, better me than the pages of a BRAND NEW FREAKING BOOK, am I right or am I right?) First of all, I couldn't imagine a better end to this fantastically atmospheric, dark and indulgent trilogy. Holly Black does it again. (And by "it", I mean she totally buries the knife of emotion into my side. This is a new shirt, Holly, please don't get blood on me.)

I found myself slipping back into this world at the same pace my heart beats to favourite songs. At the start, I wasn't sure what to expect. We know the ending of the previous book left things in the air. While I had an inkling of an idea of what might happen during the events of the conclusion, I find that I wasn't quite as certain as I thought. Holly Black never fails to surprise me in even the most subtle of ways, which is why her work in The Folk of the Air has fast become one of my favourites of all time.

Every page was like a dream. Feverish, fast paced, tangled with thorns and blink-and-you'll-miss-it plot twists. Jude is in her absolute best element--equal parts fierce and flawed; human and not. She is the ultimate Queen and I bow down. Of course, Cardan, too, plays the games in his usually sharp, highly delectable and messy way. If you thought that wicked punch to the gut moment at the end of The Wicked King was the height of emotions for the series, you're wrong. Black had plenty more to grip us with through The Queen of Nothing.

(This is the part of the review where some spoilers may come into play. Avert your gaze if you've yet to read The Queen of Nothing. I'm trying to not be overly spoilery, BUT!)

One of the things I loved most about The Queen of Nothing is the manner in which Taryn's significance to the story--and to Jude--starts to weave itself into something more. I finally felt like their sisterly ties were more present than ever. In fact, I appreciated the attempts at redemption for Taryn (I still don't necessarily feel she required any redemption, considering her flaws and actions are no worse than most of the other characters on the greater scale) and I really felt like this was her fate all along when it came to the bigger picture. She really said f*ck Locke's rights, huh?

Taryn has never been my favourite character, but she is cut from the same cloth as Sansa Stark is in A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones. I've never quite understood the amount of hate she gets in comparison to everyone else in the series. She plays the game... only adjusting it to fit her own way of movement. I just really enjoyed her parts of the story this time around? It really brought back a center to the story, seeing three sisters be... well, three sisters again.

I also really appreciated the way that Holly Black wrote Jude throughout this book. All the traits we know she has are present and we see her process things with something of a different eye. Seeing her scheme in several different scenarios was a real treat and I will forever love slipping into her mind. As always, she is brutal and quick on her feet in the best ways possible. Watching her final stand-offs with foes such as her 'father', Madoc, really left me reeling in new ways.

Her perfect match, of course, is always in Cardan. It's funny. To be blunt, I never really thought I'd consider their relationship to be something I'd like due to their origins. Somehow, I adore it? They really do melt around each other just as swiftly as they might verbally hold a knife to one another's throats. I can't help but to love it. It's a messy contradiction and it fits with not only the realm they are in, but the personalities they each possess.

From the moment Jude sets foot in court again, I felt that hum of energy that Holly Black's prose always brings me. The danger of her being there, and the fact that Cardan knew it was her and not Taryn, and the pages that followed, the games that these two play, were what made me nearly spill my coffee.

As for subplots, The Queen of Nothing pretty much cuts to the bone. Holly Black, as always, uses her time wisely and doesn't over inflate the narrative. We get pieces of the bigger picture. We get curses and fights and journeys and love. We get family time, for better for worse, and we get to see a new era take its throne. We get new beginnings and exiles. We get a tale of snakes and royalty.

And, really? What more could we ask for?

Ultimately, the plotlines throughout The Queen of Nothing all lined up perfectly. Black takes us on one last action packed, romance and snark fueled ride, and it's almost bittersweet to be giving our goodbyes so soon. In short? I feel like everything came full circle and while we weren't tied up into the prettiest, most perfect sort of bow, I really am satisfied with the conclusion and can't even begin to imagine it any other way. 

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