The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black

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1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★
1.5) The Lost Sisters ★★★★★
2.) The Wicked King ★★★★★

“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.

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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!)

 

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black

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1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★

“Once upon a time, there was a human girl stolen away by faeries, and because of that, she swore to destroy them.”

Many of you might not know this but on this day many years ago, Holly Black’s biggest fan was born. Spoiler: it’s me! And I figured what better way to celebrate my birthday than to finally post my review for my favorite book of the year! I read this back in May, and it doesn’t come out until January, but celebrating my love for this book and series on my birthday just felt right. Also, I’m just that extra, but The Wicked King is perfection in every way.

I love so many different kinds of books; fantasy, romance, young adult, new adult, adult, books with lyrical writing, books that are character driven, books with angsty relationships, books with soul crushing emotions, books that make me feel everything. And I’ve read a lot of books; over 800 according to Goodreads. But every time I pick up a Holly Black book, I feel like she wrote the book for me. And I mean that, because she writes exactly the kind of books that I want to read. Not just key elements or parts, she completely encompasses everything I love in literature. And if I could wish one thing for everyone who reads my reviews, I’d wish for you to find an author that makes you feel this way, too.

The Wicked King is the second installment in The Folk of the Air series, the first being my favorite book of 2017, The Cruel Prince! And this book starts off five months after the heart wrenching events in book one. This review is going to be spoiler free, but I will be talking about some key elements that happened in the previous book! So, please do not read this review if you do not wish to be somewhat spoiled for The Cruel Prince!

“I want to tell you so many lies.”

(The most breathtaking fanart by Loweana!)

Okay, so basically a brief summary is that Jude is alone with the new High King of Faerie. Madoc and her parted on bad terms, Oak is in hiding with Vivi, Taryn is to be married to Locke, Balekin is locked up, and Cardan is *clutches pearls forever* the new king. Yet, he must listen to everything Jude says because of a trick she played on him, but all of us know how quickly a year can pass and things can change. Especially since the Queen of the Undersea, Orlagh, is thinking about breaking the treaty with the fae folk on land, since she isn’t too sure about the new ruler. And she plans to use her daughter, Nicasia, any way that she can to help secure her place of power in the fae realm. And all the courts are coming together to see if Cardan really can lead and protect them.

“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”

And everyone is plotting in this book, I swear. The phrase “twists and turns” doesn’t even begin to describe the events that happen in this book. The political intrigue is so strong in this book. You won’t know who or what to believe, and you surely won’t know who to trust. And all these storylines come together to create something so beautiful. This book was a wild ride from page one to the very last page. Actually, especially the very last page.

And I know everyone has already made a very big deal about the end of this book, and they aren’t wrong. You all thought The Cruel Prince cliffhanger was bad? Oh, sweet summer children. And, obviously, I won’t spoil anything, but there are so many different ways to interpret what happened. I’m going to be vague, but when you love someone or something, you will protect it at all costs. Also, the juxtaposition from book one to book two? Probably the best thing I’ve ever read in my entire life.

Okay, I’m going to do a little break down for some of the characters in this book. You know, just so I can gush, fangirl, and truly be the hot mess that this book proves that I am. Also, Roiben plays a huge role in this story, which was such a wonderful surprise and I really wanted to mention it!

(My favorite fanart(s) by PhantomRin!)

Jude Duarte – My heart, my true love, my icon, my queen. Jude is my favorite protagonist and I would honestly die for her. Like, all I want in this life is for Jude to he happy, healthy, loved, and know that she is deserving of that love.

“I’ve wanted this and feared it, and now that it’s happening, I don’t know how I will ever want anything else.”

Cardan Greenbriar – And Cardan is probably my favorite character in literature. There, I said it. Are you happy now? Also, this book has a minor scene that really led me to believe that Cardan is pan or bi and the scream I screamed upon reading. (I’m so sorry, neighbors, if you’re reading this!) I thought I was too old or just completely over the concept of “book boyfriends” until Cardan Greenbriar decided to be created.

Nicasia – I’m not even going to waste my finger strength. Bitch, bye.

Locke – Okay, say what you want, but Locke is like the greatest antagonist of all time. I am not sure I’ve ever loved to hate a character as much as I absolutely love to hate him. I also completely believe that he’s going to be the “big bad” of this series, eventually. The half-brother development is going to come into play.

“I wish he hadn’t used me to test my sister’s love for him. I wish she hadn’t let him.”

Taryn Duarte – Friends, I have a lot of feels. But I’m just going to say that I want few things in life as much as I want the novella, The Lost Sisters, that comes out October 2nd, 2018. I think it’s going to completely shatter everything we know about Taryn, and I’m ready for it.

Oh, and in case I haven’t gushed enough, the romance in this series is my favorite romance of all-time. And like, I don’t say that lightly. I thought in The Cruel Prince that it might have been because I just love fae stories so much. But while reading The Wicked King I realized that it’s just because this is the best enemies to lovers in the history of the trope. I mean, sex is great and all, but have you ever shipped Jude and Cardan more than any relationship you’ve ever personally been in? Because, same. I honestly don’t even know how I’m functioning, let alone sitting at my desk typing this review, after reading the Queen of Mirth scene. Seriously, Holly Black is a fae queen, none of us are deserving, and her words are magical.

“You are my dearest punishment.”

But this is also a book all about power, and the ugly things people are willing to do for it. Yet, it’s also about love, and all the beautiful, selfless, hopeful, hopeless, heartwarming, heartbreaking things we are willing to do for it. I honestly feel like the heart of this story is about sacrifice; the things we do for our family, our loved ones, and for ourselves. There is a lot of good on these pages. And I know this is a whimsical, magical book all about fae, but a lot of themes and messages carry over really beautifully.

“It’s easy to put your own life on the line, isn’t it? To make peace with danger. But a strategist must sometimes risk others, even those we love.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy reading a book as I’ve been reading The Wicked King. Also, I seriously pretty much reread this while writing this review. Like, I opened my book back up to grab some quotes that I tabbed, and I seriously had to stop myself from consuming the whole entire story all over again. Without a doubt in my mind, I will read this again before release. It’s just that much of a masterpiece, in every single sense of the word.

“He looks at me as though we share secrets, although we don’t. We don’t share anything.”

Overall, this review doesn’t do this book or my feelings justice. I have no word combination for how much this book, this series, and this author means to me. Yet, if you peak inside my heart, you might see my loved ones, coffee, video games, tattoos, Frank Ocean, and The Wicked King by Holly Black. Not only is this my favorite book of 2018, it’s one of my favorite things in life. And Cardan and Jude honestly have the best sexual tension in existence. I could read about them forever, with no pay off even, and I’d just ask for more.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, bullying, abandonment, captivity, abuse, talk of past child abuse, and for violence in general.

(Thank you so much, Diana. You will never know how much this means to me, but I promise I’ll cherish this ARC forever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you! 💖)