Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: The Folk of the Air, Book 3
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fae
“Only out of his spilled blood can a great ruler rise. But not before what I have told you comes to pass,” (Baphen, Preface).
My love of the fae and stories about them made this series a wild ride for me. I loved seeing these wicked creatures acting in their own interests, using others to get what they wanted and not apologizing for it. I loved seeing the way the different courts dealt with each other and how their biases played into their interactions.
Black does an amazing job at creating characters that feel real. In this series I have found characters I love and characters I hate, though my favourite might just be the characters I love to hate. I can feel their motivations, their wants and desires. I can tell how her characters are feeling through the words on the page. Black is a master with words, creating a world that I’m more than happy to jump into time and time again. The only downfall is that this tale is over – I could keep reading this world for years to come.
I highly recommend checking out this story, starting with The Cruel Prince (review here). It’s everything that I could have asked for out of a story about the fae and brings me back to the heyday of fae popularity. It’s clear how much research Black did into the beings before writing this story, making it incredibly well written.
I adore the fact that Cardan was secretly sending Jude notes (even if she didn’t get them). I love the fact that he didn’t expect her to follow the rules of her exile and to come back the Faerie, to come back to him. I especially love the fact that he flinched when she admitted to wishing him dead while pretending to be Taryn. It must be hard to hear the person you love wishing for your death – even if she was mostly lying to herself about it.
Even when he admits to loving her, even though his heart is shriveled and basically dead, Cardan doesn’t expect anything from Jude. Jude’s inability to tell him his feelings are returned until it was almost too late is just par for the course for these two. Heck, even as a giant snake Cardan refused to harm Jude, instead staying with her in the throne room when she’s lost to her depression. When she tells snake-Cardan she loves him, I can’t help but think that a piece of Cardan could still register her words. When he’s back to being him it was hard for him to accept Jude’s words at face value, but she found a way to convince him regardless.
It was nice to see the two of them working together for a change, instead of trying to hurt each other with their words and actions. Sure they’re never going to be a perfect couple – they’re always going to be toxic for each other – but I can’t imagine anyone else for the two of them. Who else is going to deal with their twisted ways? Who else is going to know how to best get under their skin? How to surprise the other with tenderness that the world doesn’t get to see?
Besides, faeries aren’t typically depicted as sweet beings. No, they’re vicious and vindictive. Jude might have grown up with a Redcap as a father, but they’re far from the only terrifying type of faerie that exists. It’s impressive that Jude, a human, was able to best them so many times.
Jude’s ambition definitely took a backseat in this installment, and I think I liked that more. While it was still ever present in her desire to reclaim her role as High Queen, it wasn’t as important to her as protecting those she loves. Sure her and Taryn weren’t on good terms at the start of the story, but that didn’t stop Jude from helping her twin out. Yes it came from a selfish place, but everything Jude does comes from a selfish place.
And when it came to saving Cardan, Jude went to an enemy because she knew it would be her best chance to save him. Her and Nicasia are never going to be friends but for once they were able to put aside their hate for each other. Jude forced her father to let Nicasia’s mother live because she knew that’s what Csrdan would have wanted; and Nicasia didn’t try to kill Jude when Cardan was a giant snake, instead deciding to team up with Jude to defeat their comment enemy. So maybe not everything Jude does comes from a place of selfishness – a small part of what she does seems to come from her warped sense of love.
I can’t imagine having to live with a terrifying prophecy handing over your head, being told that you’re destined to fail. I do, however, love the fact that the prophecy was literal. The throne and the blood crown were destroyed but were replaced at the end with something better, something stronger. And Cardan’s blood was shed – through which he was reborn as a great High King.
Cardan might have gone through the most growth in this series and I loved every second of it. While he’ll always love to torment Jude, he’s finally discovered a different way to love her. He’s discovered that his heart isn’t pure darkness and can be used for good. There’s a reason the realm of Faerie accepted him as its High King – and Jude as its High Queen.
Both of them were filled with ambition and cunning, something that rulers of the fae need in spades. With it they were able to push back their enemies time and time again, to overcome their hardships even when the odds were stacked against them. Heck, the realm accepted both of them to the point that it saved them both from death. Jude when Madoc made the killing blow and Cardan multiple times – though most notably when Jude cut off his snake form’s head.
Speaking of Madoc, Jude was pretty lenient with her punishment of him. Of course it would be hard on her family if she were to punish him greater, but most rulers in her position wouldn’t have allowed him to live. Then again, living in the human world and not allowed to fight might just be worse than death for someone like Madoc…. I’ve changed my mind, Jude was very cruel with this punishment – to Madoc. She was actually sweet about it for Oak’s sake.
Anyone who’s made it this far has have finished the series – or you just love spoilers. Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this story. Are you a fan of the fae like me, or are you a Holly Black fan and picked this book up regardless of its subject? Did the cruel and wicked characters pull you into the story the way they did me?
Other reviews in the series: