“Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.”
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
[Disclaimer] I received a free copy via a Giveaway on Goodreads, but this has not affected my review in any way.
I heard quite a few mixed reviews about this book before I picked it up myself, and quite a few outright bad ones, which made me wary.
I love Holly Black and have pretty much solidly liked everything she’s written so far, but that doesn’t stop any author from writing new books that I might not like. They could be trying out a new style, or just write a character I don’t connect with, anything could mean that my streak ends.
But I really shouldn’t have worried.
It. Was. Amazing.
The detail in such a small world, only a fraction of Faerie itself, and already she’s managed to cram in Goblins, Selkies, and so much more. I even noticed the characters from Tithe which was a lovely touch. (You don’t need to have read the Tithe series to understand their significance, they work just as well as new characters too.)
The main character is also so lovely. She’s brave, a little headstrong, stubborn, a strategiser, and determined as hell to find her own place and purpose in Faerie.
I loved reading about a flawed main character who had flaws that weren’t just ‘my parents/sibling/loved one died so I’m getting revenge’, even though that was also a part of it in a way. She was able to make mistakes and pull herself back up without seeming weak or stupid.
She uses strategics as her main weapon in this world, realising that she might be weaker in other aspects and so cultivating this as a necessary skill to survive. It was very refreshing to see a character use something other than brawn or skill with a weapon, something that is saturating the YA badass-female-character market nowadays.
And her having an identical twin absolutely helped with my love of her character because I’m an identical twin myself! Their close but tense relationship has definitely been us at times and I loved how they were similar but had started to differ purely because their main goals had diverged, but that their stubbornness with which to achieve that goal was the same.
She was very easy to identify with, even if my goals, if I was in her world, would have aligned more with her older sister Vivi. I worried for her and I rooted for her, so this book definitely connects you with the characters, no doubt.
To be honest, I thought this book could have been a standalone, but finding out that it was part of a trilogy instead was very exciting! Holly Black could have so easily ended the book as it was, and left you wanting more of the world and wanting to know more of the future of the characters, but instead – we get to read about this ourselves!
More time in a world I love can never be a bad thing in my books.
Another interesting thing about this book was how the overall themes are very violent and cruel, like a lot of faerie-based books it seems, but throughout the book you start to get used to this almost like Jude has herself I suppose. In any flash of the human world we get, the stark contrast almost makes our world seem less real, and Faerie more so. It flipped my perspective on its head, which I enjoyed a lot.
The ending wraps things up very nicely, while also leaving it wide open for sequels. A lot happens in the run up to the end, but it doesn’t feel rushed, only as if everything was leading up to it. (Even if a lot of what happened was unexpected). I closed it feeling happy and satisfied, like you should after reading a good book.
Strong, but well-flawed main character who uses strategy as her main weapon.
Compelling writing that makes you feel as though you’re in the world and everything is normal (though it’s actually far from it!)
Nice nods to other books by Holly Black, which loyal readers will enjoy.
A satisfying ending, and also two more books to enjoy!