The Queen of Nothing
by Holly Black
After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watching reality television, and doing odd jobs, including squaring up to a cannibalistic faerie.
When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking a favour, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal. When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.
WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS. This is the last book in the trilogy, so please be warned that there will be spoilers for the earlier books in the series in this review.
The Queen of Nothing has been one of my most anticipated releases of the year ever since its publication date was moved from January 2020 to November 2019, and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint!
Now exiled from the land of Faerie, despite being its High Queen, Jude is attempting to live her life in the mortal world with her older sister, Vivi, and their little brother Oak, taking on some odd jobs for other fae who dwell in the mortal world. When her sister Taryn turns up on their doorstep with some surprising news requesting Jude’s help, she can’t help but be pulled back towards Faerie and the place she considers home.
Naturally, because it’s Jude, chaos ensues.
It was so satisfying to see Taryn finally come into her own in this book, and for Jude, Taryn and Vivi to be a supportive little coven of sisters. I did spend a lot of the novel, much like Jude, nervous that Taryn might betray her again, but Taryn has finally found her own voice in this third and final book and no longer needs Locke and Madoc to make her decisions for her by using her. Seeing the three sisters finally working together was one of my favourite things about this book.
But I can’t deny that I also loved all the scenes that Jude and Cardan shared. I don’t know what it is about this series that works for me because Cardan should be the kind of YA love interest I hate, but he and Jude are like two sides of the same coin and they just work. Cardan is a lot softer in this book than he’s been in the previous books, but given the glimpse into his past we’re given right at the beginning of this novel I think that makes sense and, to be honest, Cardan is the softer character out of him and Jude.
That’s probably hard to believe in The Cruel Prince, when he and his friends are so darn mean, but Jude straight-up murders people throughout this series (and it’s awesome) whereas a lot of Cardan’s behaviour is a kind of armour he’s had to build up because of the world and family he’s been born into. I find him really interesting – he reminds me a little of Baz from Carry On, who’s also a secret soft mess under his layers of venom – and I enjoyed all of his scenes a lot.
That doesn’t mean this book isn’t without its problems and I have a feeling it’s going to be a fairly polarising finale not because of its ending or anything, but because of the way we get to that ending. Like the other books in this trilogy, The Queen of Nothing moves along at quite a fast pace and there are plenty of moments that could have been drawn out or questions that could have been answered.
For example, I thought we might learn a bit more about Jude’s parents, particularly her mother, and I’m surprised Cardan’s mother didn’t play a bigger part in the book. Then again, their stories have never really been the point of this trilogy. We can dive into the kinds of mothers they were all we like, but what really matters is how their parenting has left Jude and Cardan the way they are. Not only that but, in Jude’s case, the parent who’s had the most impact on her is Madoc; it’s Madoc who, for better or worse, has turned Jude into the scheming Slytherin queen she is.
In a way I quite liked that Cardan’s mother teased Jude with the stories she could tell Jude about her own mother’s behaviour, but Jude never rises to that bait. Maybe one day she’ll learn more about her mother in her own time but, ultimately, Jude has got to where she is through her own blood, sweat and tears, and she doesn’t need stories about anyone who’s come before her to validate her. I kind of love that.
I could see where the plot was going from fairly early on and I could guess the solution to the novel’s major problem straight away, but, honestly, I didn’t care. This series is just so much fun to read; these books are like popcorn, sweet and salty and moreish, and I’ve read this whole trilogy this year purely and simply to be swept away somewhere else and entertained. This final book continued to do that for me, and I really enjoyed it!
I can’t even say I’m sad this series has now come to an end because a story arc has come to a close and it felt like a fitting ending, even if we did get to that ending a lot more easily than I expected, but I would love to see Holly Black write more books set in the world of Faerie because her world-building in this trilogy is one of my favourite things about it.