Tag: faeries

Review – The Wicked King

Posted April 5, 2019 by Kate in Book Reviews, Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – The Wicked KingThe Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) by Holly Black
on January 8, 2019
Pages: 338
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This exclusive edition contains deleted scenes sure to delight fans and give them a special peek into the world of Faerie!
The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

DISCLAIMER: While we try very hard to avoid spoilers, this one has a few. Since this is the second book in a series and there are so many entwined story lines, I don’t want to ruin any of the many delicious surprises this series has in store.

Found this piece of Jude and Cardan on Loweana Art’s Tumblr. She does beautiful work – be sure to check her out!

I’m slow writing this response, because it’s taken me some time to wrap my head around it. I was out of the country for a hot second, and then I came back and spent way too long trying to make this non-spoilery. As you can tell from the disclaimer above, that didn’t work out. Without further ado, let me present my spoilery, spoilery opinions on The Wicked King.

With the way The Cruel Prince ended, I knew that we were in for some type of shit, but I was absolutely blown away by the twists and turns that Holly Black has built into this story. I should have known, really, that she was going to do this. I haven’t read any of her other stuff, but TCP should have taught me that lesson. Apparently, I was too pig-headed to learn it. So we’re going to do this in a brand new format I like to call, “Things That Surprised That Really Shouldn’t Have”.

First of all, we have Nicasia. I knew the was a princess of the Undersea, but for some reason, I didn’t think that would be relevant. But with Elfhame in shambles after Jude’s stunt, of course it would be. These are faeries. They look for any and all opportunity for subterfuge and superiority, and Jude handed them an opportunity on a silver platter. It was a great thing to have in this book, because it demonstrated a lot of the overarching plot lines in tiny little vignette to answer one all-important question: Just how far will Cardan go to save Jude?

Then there’s the Ghost. I’m here to tell you this one really got me. When Jude started asking him questions and trying to determine his loyalties, it occurred to me that everything might not be as it seemed, but after the events of TCP, I really thought he was going to be on her side. OH BOY. It did nothing but drive the story forward, as I noted above, so I can’t be mad, but I was still bummed when I couldn’t love him anymore. It hurt.

Now. For the family dynamics. Obviously, Taryn’s dedication to Locke was going to be wildly misguided, but to the point of betraying Jude? It just seems so unnecessary. I know part of this world is that no one can be trusted, and you have to constantly be on your toes, but it just felt like one thing too many. That being said, I am interested to see how the whole Locke-Taryn-Cardan-Jude-Madoc dynamic evolves in The Queen of Nothing, because my guess is that the answer is “badly”.

And then there’s Cardan’s whole mommy dearest situation. I’m very excited and very afraid to see how that plays out in TQN. Plus, Balekin. He’s the dumbest smart person written in modern YA fiction. How did he not know Jude wasn’t glamored? How did he think any of this played out with a mortal who could be glamored? It just doesn’t make sense, and he’s smarter than that. Not sorry he’s dead, though.

And finally. The big kahuna. The shock of all shocks, and the thing that completely broke my heart. FUCKING CARDAN BANISHING JUDE TO THE MORTAL WORLD. EXCUSE ME. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?! I didn’t even know how to process the ending of this book. I was reading and then that happened and then it was over. I was so dumbstruck that I was completely unable to come up with anything even kind of productive to say. It’s been almost three months since I read it, and that’s still true. So if you ever wanted evidence of a successful shock ending, I guess that’s it. I just have to believe that there’s a reason for it and that she’ll get the opportunity to come back and absolutely wreck Locke. Cardan, however, has lost his right to help.

As I read back through that, it’s kind of five paragraphs of absolutely nothing. That teaches me to mull things over for too long. However, I don’t think anything I wrote in January would have been much better. Holly Black succeeded 100% in turning my brain to mush.

There are a couple of technical bits I’d like to touch on. I think this might just be a problem I have with Black’s writing in general, as I also struggled in TCP, but the pacing feels weird. There are these lulls of world-building or character development that feel a lot longer than they need to be, and then all of a sudden you’re in a mad dash to some tragedy. It wasn’t as bad in this one, but I still noticed it, especially leading up to Hunter’s Moon and between Jude’s rescue and her marriage to Cardan. This could be a taste issue, but it felt pronounced as I was reading.

The other thing is that for as action packed as these books are, they also feel very insignificant somehow. That’s stupid, and I know that, because I can’t stop thinking about them. They infiltrate my thoughts at least a couple times a week. And yet, something about them still feels shallow. I can’t quantify it better than that, so I almost didn’t mention it, but it’s been a very real part of my experience, so I didn’t want to leave it out.

The Queen of Nothing is set to drop on January 7, 2020. The cover reveal was last week, and oh my goodness, look at this thing. SO beautiful! I’m excited and terrified to see how this trilogy wraps up.

If you need a Holly Black fix in the meantime, The Modern Faerie Tales is being re-released as a bindup, and it’s stunning as well. I haven’t read this series yet, but I’m planning to once I acquire this copy.

What were your thoughts on The Wicked King? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below, or find me on Twitter and Goodreads. Happy reading!

four-half-stars

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Review – An Enchantment of Ravens

Posted December 22, 2017 by Paige in Book Reviews, Reviews / 0 Comments

Review – An Enchantment of RavensAn Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on September 26th 2017
Pages: 300
Goodreads

four-half-stars




A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

I bought Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens during a huge Barnes and Noble haul when YA books were on super-sale, but man am I glad for that impulse buy! I was drawn in by the beautiful cover and the promise of a tale of the Fair Folk, who I find endlessly captivating. Authors find so many different ways to put their spin on faeries, and Rogerson does a fantastic job staying true to the foundation of the Fae while making them her own.

In the land of Whimsy, whose borders meet those of the springlands, most commerce revolves around different kinds of Craft. Baking, tailoring, jewelry smithing, and weapon crafting are all different types of Craft, and faeries in this world cannot wield the Craft on pain of death. As such, they covet any and all works of human creation. Isobel, our main character, is a portrait painter with no equal. Her clients repay her for her work with acts of enchantment, but unlike most of her fellows Craftsmen, she is careful with what she wishes for. Her requests are always carefully worded, and she only wishes for things to help her family. She manages to help eke out a modest existence for herself, her aunt, and her two younger siblings.

Trouble comes to call when Rook, a prince of the autumnlands, commissions a portrait from Isobel. And thus begins a whirlwind of manipulation, attraction, and danger.

I absolutely loved this book, and I inhale-read it in a single evening reading session. I was in a bit of a reading slump and had tried 2 or 3 different books, but couldn’t find anything to hold my attention. One of my favorite things about Rogerson’s writing is how often she made me literally, not figuratively, laugh out loud. The way Isobel describes her surroundings, sometimes even in the thick of danger, is so dry and delightful. For example:

“I was ravenous. I was sore. I was terrified. And yet looking at Rook I imagined a cat proudly bringing its master dead chipmunks, only to watch the two-legged oaf lift these priceless gifts by the tail and fling them unceremoniously into the bushes.”

(This quote was especially hilarious because Kate and I had been discussing faeries and their similarities to cats not 5 minutes before I got to that part.)

Also:

“It had the correct number of appendages in more or less the expected places, but that was all I could say in its favor.”

Isobel’s inner monologue really resonated with me and made me love her as a character. She is also incredibly sure of herself and her goals, and won’t do anything to compromise herself as a person or artist, nor will she endanger her family.

Rook is also a delightful character. He is more or less your typical out of touch, self absorbed faerie, but he hides a painfully human secret. Isobel’s discovery of this inner turmoil is what sets the true wheel of the plot spinning, and it also endears him to the reader.

Another big selling point for me was the worldbuilding Rogerson manages to do with the realm of faeries, which has already been explored in great detail with many different books. She stays true to all of the aspects of traditional fae while giving them their own spin. The different seasonal lands screamed ACoTaR to me, which will always be a huge thumbs up for me. The description of the different lands as well as the viewpoints and aesthetics of the inhabitants of each different court gives a special aspect to the different fae characters we meet.

A small problem I had was the instant attraction between Isobel and Rook, more frequently known as Instalove, the book-killer. This will usually absolutely ruin any affection I have for a book, but it didn’t here. I think it actually worked with the way the plot progresses, and Isobel even addresses it herself at one point. It also makes more sense once you finish the book and reflect on the events that took place and why they came to take place. I’ve heard from several other reviewers that they believe the plot wasn’t very strong, but I actually really enjoyed the story line and how everything came together at the end. Overall, if you enjoy the fickle fae folk and the humans who have to navigate their wily ways, this is a book for you. Margaret Rogerson is an incredibly talented writer, and I will probably be excited about any future books she writes.

four-half-stars

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