The Queen of Nothing [REREAD]

- Holly Black

Goodreads Book Blurb:

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

Series / Genres:

My [REREAD] Review:

↓ scroll down for original review
enjoyable/easy to read:
Okay, so The Queen of Nothing isn’t as bad as I claimed after the first read. I will still admit to being disappointed – The Cruel Prince is so cunning and compelling that it’s hard to look at how far Jude has fallen. And I’m not talking about her being in exile.

Now, stuck in the mortal world for good, I miss Faerieland with a raw intensity. It’s magic I long for, magic I miss. Maybe I even miss being afraid. I feel as though I am dreaming away my days, restless, never fully awake.

In The Cruel Prince, Jude plots and makes her own way in the world to gain power and earn her place among the faeries. In The Wicked King, she’s more cautious, afraid of overplaying her hand and losing the impressive amount of power she’s managed to obtain. But in The Queen of Nothing she’s reactive. Dragged from one situation to another, it takes the dumbest narrative choice
seriously? A fucking snake?
for her to start making her own decisions again. Only after this point do we finally start to see the Jude from The Cruel Prince; by then, it feels too late.

I had imagined myself different from Madoc, but already, given the chance, I am becoming a tyrant, threatening in place of convincing. Unstable instead of steadying.
I am suited to the shadows, to the art of knives and bloodshed and coups, to poisoned words and poisoned cups. I never expected to rise so high as the throne. And I fear that I am utterly unsuited for the task.

Besides the crumbling of Jude’s character, the narrative itself feels incredibly heavy-handed. There are two riddles that are so obvious they can be solved on the first read, and yet they’re only solved accidentally.
For someone who considers herself smarter and craftier than everyone around her, the fact that she can’t figure out that she can pardon herself is pathetic. Cardan looks at Jude and tells her that only the crown can pardon her – you’re the crown, idiot. She can’t stop thinking about being the queen; how can she not figure this out?
So many quotes and lines from throughout the series are repeated to really. drive. the. point. home. Because why would you pay attention to the book you’re reading? The subtle beauty of the writing is abandoned to make sure the themes are understood by the thickest reader. Sorry The Queen of Nothing, your YA is showing.

I hate being a fool. I hate the idea of my emotions getting the better of me, of making me weak. But my fear of being a fool turned me into one. I should have guessed the answer to Cardan’s riddle long before I did. Even if I didn’t understand it was a riddle, it was still a loophole to exploit. But I was so shamed by falling for his trick that I stopped looking for ways around it. And even after I discovered one, I made no plan to use it.
Maybe it isn’t the worst thing to want to be loved, even if you’re not. Even if it hurts. Maybe being human isn’t always being weak.
Maybe it was the shame that was the problem.

Though better than the first read, it’s still my least favourite of the series (besides the Taryn The Lost Sisters nonsense), and I can’t help but remain disappointed that we’ve fallen so far from the promise of The Cruel Prince.

My [ORGINAL] Review:

meh, nothing special:
If we’re comparing the pace of the books in this series, The Cruel Prince is a twisty, uphill hike, The Wicked King is the calculated manoeuvre along the precipice, and The Queen of Nothing is the breakneck tumble off of a sheer rock face. We’re off and running from the first chapter, leaving behind all the plotting and politics that made this series special. Lacking subtlety or nuance, The Queen of Nothing is the Michael Bay-directed finale, meant to be flashy and conclusive, rather than complex or meaningful.

The choices made in this narrative ranged from unnecessary
Taryn killing Locke? That can’t have been the only way to convince Jude to return to Elfhame. And it’s so contrary to everything we know about Taryn. I am the last person to care about Locke – I continue to believe that he is the most one-dimensional character in this series – but it makes the entire Jude-Taryn-Locke triangle/subplot completely pointless.
to unbelievable
There is no fucking way that any faerie would continue to follow Jude with Cardan out of the picture. She’s a mortal who has been queen for less than a minute. It’s unlikely they’d even keep her alive, let alone listen to her.
to plain stupid.
Oh yes, kings are always turning into giant snakes. It’s a real problem that someone should look into.
One or two of these plot points might have been forgivable if they hadn’t happened one after another, like neverending dominoes of bad writing and bad dialogue. Sure, there are several worthwhile pull quotes, but they’re buried deep in the bullshit that is the plot. After all, when you’re forcing a conclusion that could’ve used another book or two to develop fully, everyone has to be uncharacteristically direct and honest.

My review is probably harsher than it needs to be, but I feel deceived by The Cruel Prince. It recruited me with unlikeable characters, plot twists, and gritty unpredictability. Instead, The Queen of Nothing completed the bait-and-switch by presenting a juvenile, unsurprising fairytale full of glossy, uncomplicated happy endings. I would’ve given it two stars, but that’s what I rated The Lost Sisters, and even with all of its flaws, The Queen of Nothing is at least fractionally better than that nightmare.

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