“By you, I am forever undone.”
I can’t believe it’s over. I feel like I’ve been in love with Holly Black’s fae stories my entire life and seeing this series finally close means more to me than I have words for, truly. This series, this world, these characters, have brought me so much unconditional happiness, and I truly am not ready to say goodbye, but I do think this was a very perfect ending.
Also, a few things before I start this actual review: 1.) I vlogged this entire reading experience (and how I wrote this review) and I hope you enjoy! 2.) Jess’s playlist is perfection and you should give it a listen! 3.) This review will talk about events that happened in The Cruel Prince, The Lost Sisters, & The Wicked King, so please use caution while reading! And I will have a spoiler section for QoN later!
After the very heartbreaking end of The Wicked King, Jude is now exiled from Faerie and a crown that no one knows she wears. Madoc is ready and willing to do anything to put Oak or himself on the throne, regardless of what Oak wants while living in the mortal realm with Vivi. Taryn is now married to Locke, for better or for worse, and regardless of what Jude thinks on the matter.
“We have lived in our armor for so long, you and I. And now I am not sure if either of us knows how to remove it.”
Everything feels like it is chaos, and at the start of this book we see Jude slowly accept her fate, while also learning the pain of her anger and betrayal. She is taking side-jobs from the fae residing among humans, and she just takes on a job that is about to really test her skills. Especially when she comes out of the job realizing that things might really not be going that great for Cardan in the realm of the fae. But Jude doesn’t care, right? But she gets an opportunity to go to faerie and see for herself, regardless of her exiled status, and the situation is a matter of life and death.
It’s hard to say anything else without going into spoiler territory, but I truly loved this book so much. I can’t believe how much Holly Black was able to surprise me, especially with the amount of theorycrafting I truly believed I did. From the cover, to the title, to the sneak peaks we were given; I was truly not ready for the twists and turns of this book and this entire trilogy is just masterfully crafted.
“I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all.”
And at the heart of this book, I just really enjoyed the theme and discussion of all the different and complex relationships we will have in our lives. We see Jude constantly battling with herself and her feelings; from her past to her future, from her family to her crown, from her feelings to her heart. There are so many wars in this book, but most of them truly are from within Jude, and Holly Black really expertly talks about the human experience and existence.
“But for one final night, he’s the father I remember best, the one in whose shadow I have—for better or worse—become what I am.”
Relationships can be so very hard and so very not pretty. Obviously we get to see Jude and Cardan, obviously we get to see Jude and her sisters, but seeing Jude and Madoc? That’s what kept breaking me. How do you love a father who became your father by killing your own? A father that loves you so very much, but loves power more? Jude and Madoc are truly the kings of this book and this chessboard, and their dynamic is truly unlike one I’ve read before. So heartbreakingly beautiful, truly.
This next section of my review is going to have SPOILERS! Please do not read on if you have not read The Queen of Nothing and all the rest of the books in this series! Also, like always, I’m going to do fangirl breakdowns because it warms my heart.
“It feels good to be fighting someone other than myself.”
➽ Jude Duarte – My actual queen. Seeing Jude realize not only her worth, but that it is okay to hurt and to be angry, yet also that it is worth the risk to let people in sometimes; I don’t even have words, friends. Jude’s pain just resonated so much inside my heart and soul and I truly think she is one of the best literary characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.
“He’s so beautiful, so perfectly, horribly, inhumanly beautiful that I can barely breathe.”
➽ Cardan Greenbriar – My entire heart. All of Cardan’s lines truly broke and healed me throughout this entire book. Seeing him be the king of his people’s dreams, but also the king of his own dreams? Forever crying. Also, we stan an otp power couple for life. Truly, for life; Jude, please never leave faerie again.
➽ Nicasia – We love a good redemption arc, wow.
➽ Grima Mog – Nothing but love and respect for my war general.
➽ Taryn Duarte – Oh Taryn. Listen, her pregnancy was expected, but her actually killing Locke was not. I will say that I think this was the weakest part of the story, and I truly wish we could have seen more, but maybe Holly Black is going to give us another few novellas or something. Especially with a certain bard boy? But seriously, I need so many more answers.
➽ Vivi – My 2019 bi-icon. I was rooting for Vivi and Heather so damn hard, and I was so scared at what Vivi was going to do this book, but she was amazing through and through. When she told Madoc to bring his entire army? The biggest flex in all of 2019 literature and I was quaking.
➽ Oak – Wow, I’m going to love me a good spin-off.
➽ Madoc – Madoc was the character that probably made me cry the most throughout this entire series. Loving people can be so very hard, and each journey is so very different, but Madoc just really amplifies these statements and it hurts (in the best way possible) to read. The parallels between him and Jude, both truly born in blood, and seeing the different paths they take to fight each other, while always loving each other, it’s really something that I don’t have words for, but it is truly heartbreakingly beautiful.
➽ Locke – Wow, he actually did die and Taryn actually did kill him. The biggest bamboozle of the entire book, and please call me boo boo the fool from now on while I apply my clown makeup.
Okay, let’s talk about some of the big things in this book while we are in this spoiler section, too. Let’s just get the snake out of the bag (end me). You know, with all the buzz about the 2019 YA book snake, I really didn’t expect for Cardan to turn into her. Wow, truly wow. I love a good fairytale twist in my fae stories, and it was truly one worthy of ballads. Seeing Jude realize that she would rather not have Cardan than only being able to have him controlled? I will be forever crying. So beautiful. Also, the sword she did it with? Truly forever crying.
I will forever and always be so surprised that Locke was not the big bad of this series and honestly? He deserved a better death and storyline ender. Like, I couldn’t believe Madoc was truly the endgame villain. This book was still so perfect to me, but this was what truly let me down the most. I wanted a satisfying Locke death and a true villain story, but it felt bad that we didn’t get that.
“Tell me what I must slay, what I must steal, tell me the riddle I must solve or the hag I must trick. Only tell me the way, and I will do it, no matter the danger, no matter the hardship, no matter the cost.”
I also didn’t love how Cardan told everyone that him and Jude got married. I mean, trust me, I screamed and rolled around in my bed like I was thirteen, but I still wanted something more. Also, the exiled scheme he made up? Baby, that’s not it. But whatever, because when he told her that he loved her it was truly the best thing my eyes have ever read for all of 2019 and you won’t hear me complaining. Truly OTP status worthy and the best enemies to lovers I will probably ever read.
I’ve had a few people tell me that they thought I’d find the ending a bit cheesy (no, this isn’t a pizza dad joke), and that’s valid, because it is a bit cheesy. But I just love these characters so much and they deserve so much happiness that I just felt really blessed to be able to experience that with them for an epilogue. Also, I have really high hopes for what is to come with Oak, because there is no way that Holly Black set that up to not masterfully tell what is to come for Faerie.
I will also be honest and say that this was probably my least favorite in the series. Also, these books are always split up in two parts (or books), and the first half of this was six star worthy. Truly better than anything I’ve read this entire year. It was the last half (and cheesy epilogue) that didn’t quite live up to my expectations. But again, this series just means so much to me and it truly feels once in a lifetime to me.
Overall, I just believe this is the series of my heart. Holly Black and her fae stories have truly shaped me into the reader and reviewer I am today. I owe her so much, and this concluding novel just felt like lifeblood to me. No other book has made me as happy reading. No other book has had me spam refreshing my kindle app to make sure it downloads. No other book has ever been more my brand. And I’m not sure if any book series ever will. It is a truly honor to read and review this book, and it’s more of an honor that some people correlate it with me. I know that no amount of words that I string together will ever adequately do justice to how much these books mean to me, but I promise to shout about them forever, and keep them in my heart always. And I hope that every reader has a series that makes them feel the way The Folk of the Air has made me feel.
Content and Trigger Warnings: death, murder, war themes, gore, blood depiction, talk of cannibalism, and torture.
Bonus – Park Jimin, forever and always my Cardan. Bye.
(Bless Annaveeart/Kuhleesee for the best art piece I’ve ever seen in my entire life!)