REVIEW: Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
In the finale to the Folk of Air trilogy, we follow Jude who after being pronounced the Queen of Faerie was exiled by King Cardan. Jude had previously admitted to killing Balekin and as such was banished by Cardan. She is taken screaming and kicking claiming that she is a Queen of Faerie but nobody believes her. As such, she is the Queen of Nothing hence the name of the book.
Now, Jude is living in the mortal world with Vivi and Oak and watches a lot of trash reality TV shows. As a way of making a living in the mortal world, she combines her knowledge of the fae and is paid to do the odd jobs for the fae in the mortal world. This includes trying to stop a cannibalistic faerie, which is the same race as her adopted father, Madoc, eating her own kind.
Suddenly her twin sister Taryn shows up in the mortal world asking her for a favour. She asks Jude to take her place into the inquiry of the death of her husband, Locke who she killed. Knowing that the fae will put a kind of spell on her to tell the truth, she asks Jude to go in her place and lie for her considering that Jude herself did not kill Locke. So Jude, jumping at the chance to enter the faerie world, enters it though she is slightly glamoured to be more like Taryn. Even if this means coming face to face with her true love, King Cardan.
Cardan immediately recognises that it is her Jude, and does not say anything to the other council members at the tribunal for Locke’s death. Cardan recognises her even when her own family members do not. Cardan organises for her to stay at the palace and just as they are about to reconnect, Madoc whisks her away believing her to be Taryn still. So Jude is still having to pretend to be Taryn so that Madoc doesn’t use her as a pawn against Cardan. It is her adopted mother who finds out she isn’t who she claims to be and so she writes a note to Vivi explaining that Jude is with them. Thinking it might be a trap, Vivi goes to King Cardan and explains the situation. He sends help with her in order to rescue Jude. This is when Madoc finally realises who Jude really is. She escapes but she is injured.
When Cardan and Jude were together, he told her of a tale that the land of faerie is indeed magical in itself and that it has the ability to heal the true kings and queens of Faerie. Being that she is married to King Cardan, she tries to heal herself from the earth of Faerie. At first it does not work but then she feels it’s power tingling through her body and it healed a deadly wound. She realises that the land has really chosen her to be its queen despite her being mortal.
She ventures back to the castle where she used to roam as apart of King Cardan’s court and council and now as taken her place as Queen. A lot of people do not believe this and neither does the council of where she used to sit. She tells them of Madoc’s plan to take back the kingdom for himself and they don’t believe her until Madoc turns up at their door. Cardan and Madoc incur a truce for a time being so that they could talk. This ends up with Cardan breaking the crown but when he does that he has a curse thrust upon him as the crown was enchanted. Now Jude must find a way for him to return from being a monster into his normal self. Madoc tries to trick her into binding Jude and Cardan together with both of them being the monster but Jude is advised better than to do that. Eventually, with no way out, she decides to kill the monster that is Cardan. She slices the serpents head clean off. “The golden eyes of the serpent are steady… This wasn’t supposed to be how things ended. I close my eyes, but I cannot keep them that way. In one movement, I swing Heartsworn in a shining arc at the serpent’s head. The blade falls, cutting through scales, through flesh and bone. Then the serpent’s head is at my feet, golden eyes dulling.” It is when the battle nearly begins again is when the true ruler of Faerie arises, King Cardan. “And then I notice the fighting has ebbed, the Folk are staring. From within the body of the creature emanates a glow. And then, through that, Cardan steps out. Cardan, naked and covered in blood. Alive. Only out of his spilled blood can a great ruler rise.” Cardan is alive.
The Queen and King of Faerie will rule together as lovers and mates and will rule the kingdom with true honesty and kindness. Their love for each other will never die despite the sacrifices that they must make for one another. Cardan explains to Jude that he had to exile her in the end of the last book to save her and for him to be established as a respected ruler and that she could come back anytime she wanted as his word tricks were meant as a lesson for her, as she could come back when the rulers of the kingdom said so, and she is a ruler of the kingdom herself. He also notes that he was sure that she would understand his true meaning after Jude had tricked many people this way herself and that he had wrote many of letters telling her to come back to him. These letters were never received by her. Cardan and Jude admit their true feelings for each other and they rule all of Elfhame as its high Queen and King.
These books have been enchanting from the very beginning, intertwining Black’s original modern faerie tales with that of her new stories. We see old characters unite with those of the new. Black’s writing is truly captivating and one that I am in awe of. It is full of action, romance and magic and Cardan and Jude’s love story is one of hate to love, a trope that many do admire within the YA community. We get to see all of the characters blossom and grow and it’s been utterly incredible to see them all grow especially Jude and Cardan, with Jude being a simple mortal in the fae world just trying to get by to now being the Queen of Fae.
Overall this series has been great and I want more within the realms of Faerie that Black has created.
4 out of 5 stars.