Description Summary | Think a modern conceptualization of fairy tales and folk tales that is reminiscent of the dark and eerie stories of The Grimm Brothers mixed in with a bit of Leigh Bardugo.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
In the final installment of The Folk of Air series, Jude is the exiled queen of Elfhame.
Heartbroken and too in shock for much scheming, she spends her mortal days doing the side odd jobs vaguely maneuvering between the silver lining of the human world and the faerie realms. A surprise visit from her estranged twin Taryn provides an open yet dangerous opportunity to head back to the cutthroat place she calls home.
Back in court and hidden, past characters come back to haunt Jude, enemy lines are forming and with them many secrets are brewing. Jude must now more than ever be careful on how she moves about; one wrong move and she might lose everything..just like last time.
Finally there is Cardan, and her conflicted feelings towards him. Love is a dangerous thing.
And underneath this all, a looming curse threatens the very existence of the faerie realms and with it Jude must make the ultimate sacrifice.
This is one of those books that I found difficult to rate, 4 star ratings can be mind bending because there isn’t blatant wrongdoings in the book or writing nor was it a memorable read for me as a reader to rate it 5 stars.
I was very skeptical of this book because some writers think it’s a fantastic idea to pull up the most insane (and illogical) plot twists to “surprise” the reader (I’m looking at you Divergent series), in the end though I find myself wanting to gouge my eyes out. The Queen of Nothing was a good book, not an epic one nor was it a bad one. And I’ll take good.
In respect to the story this isn’t a noble and heroic tale of sacrifice and morality; you have no heroes here. It’s very much like Jude said:
” I don’t know how to win any other way but theirs. It is no recipe for being a hero, but it is a recipe for success…I said if I couldn’t be better than my enemies, then I would become worse. Much, much worse.”
This is a refreshing outlook to high fantasy novels where you usually have the “chosen ones”, the “underdogs”, or even the “outcasts” become the unlikely heroes of the tale. What you have instead is a very dark dangerous setting with characters more wicked and treacherous than the next. And to me I can’t help but reflect the magical setting to the current present. Similarly each person is motivated by personal gains, and everyone is playing a deadly chess game where one misstep can lead to fatal consequences (totally not like the state of the world right now 👀)
Considering that, Black doesn’t allow the reader to rest. You think you’ve solved one issue only for another to spring up, you think betrayal is coming from one corner only to find it springing up on you from behind. If you love fast paced restless books this series is perfect for you.
Thus, I think I would have loved this book if the story was a bit more fleshed out. To me things were too fast paced; I like a slow burn.
I tend to find with Holly Black’s writing that you either adore it or find it nearing average simply because it’s very distinctive. I could instantly pick out her writing because she has this unique way of narrating. Personally I haven’t completely clicked with it; like having one puzzle piece that refuses to fit in and complete the picture. And honestly, I don’t know why! I guess it’s just preference and taste.
Jude my word. She is a force. Her wickedness and villainy is unnerving, but it is that exact apprehensiveness that you feel with her character that make this a captivating read.
Both she and Cardan are one formidable couple: the power, the presence, the cunning make them mesmerizing and irresistible. I would be utterly terrified (but in delight?) if I stood in front of them. Just not knowing what is exactly going through their minds makes them and this book more compelling. Their banter and their relationship is anything but a cliche. They’re definitely the highlight of the book and make this series what it is.
In general, characterization is one element that the book did immensely well. And it’s unlikely that I’ll forget Jude and Cardan but I’m more likely to forget the events of the book.
I know Tyrn is not a favorite but I really liked how her character developed in this last book. And though I’ll never understand her full motivations I do love the arc that Black had for her and I’m glad she has more of an active role here.
In conclusion I wouldn’t call The Folk of Air series being in my top YA series picks but I’m satisfied with the ending I got.
Side note: Jude and Cardan have the most amazing fan art I’ve ever seen. Also the book cover is a genius, so many outright clues right in front of our faces.
Do I recommend? It has a good ending and that’s what you could ask for the series finale.