The Queen of Nothing
Author Holly Black
Publisher Little, Brown | 2019
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… (from Goodreads)
YES, this has spoilers. I needed to get out all of my feelings and this was very cathartic.
“I hate to admit it, but I’ve missed risking my neck. There’s no room for regrets when you’re busy trying to win. Or at least trying not to die.”
ARGHHHHHH! DO YOU KNOW how much it physically pains me to see that three star rating up there?! It felt like ripping off a piece of my heart, but after a couple days of reflection, I couldn’t keep my initial four star rating.
I truly do not know where to start. My stress level surrounding this book has been insane. I got rid of social media for a few days just so I wouldn’t have to see anyone talking about or possibly spoiling this book for me (I got TWK spoiled months in advance and it really messed with my head while finally reading it). I REFUSED to get spoiled this time around. I was hoping to be able to take my time reading this, but in the end I was too anxious and ended up finishing it in a few hours.
And— it wasn’t what I was expecting. Or hoping for. The pacing is (I cannot stress this enough) SO FAST that I could barely get a handle on what was happening before it was over. I was definitely captivated by the twists and turns (many of which I didn’t see coming), but towards the second half I was just… let down. Given how short this final book is, I was hoping for more Jude/Cardan interaction than I got. Don’t get me wrong, the Jurdan moments in this were TOP NOTCH, and though it was wild to see how frickin’ SOFT AND IN LOVE they were compared to their usual scheming and griping, it was definitely a welcome twist, and I’ve gone back to reread all of my favorite moments with them (chapter 21 THANK YOU VERY MUCH). AND ALSO, “I knew little else but I always knew you”??? UGH. DEAD ON THE SPOT- I BURST INTO TEARS. That being said, their chemistry seemed a bit off from their usual wit and banter. And their interactions, especially in the first half, are almost nonexistent. I got to the halfway point and was like wtf they’ve literally spoken less than 2 pages of dialogue to each other. And then they FINALLY are together aaaaaand Cardan becomes a fucking snake for the majority of the finale.
Then, the ending just felt rushed to me. I feel like things were wrapped up so unsatisfactorily- I was disappointed with Locke’s ending (not that he was dead cuz FUCK THAT GUY) but the fact that it happened during Jude’s exile (side rant- HOW LONG WAS HER FRICKIN’ EXILE? I don’t know if it’s mentioned in the book, but I can’t find it and it’s BOTHERING ME SO MUCH) and the fact that it was so anticlimactic was weird. Plus, we just like… forgave Taryn for all the shit she’s done?? Though I was happy to see that all the sisters ended on good terms, everything just happened so quickly. The Valerian curse was also quick, and I thought that true faerie names would play a bigger role.
“If he sends me to the Tower of Forgetting, I wonder if he’ll visit.”
And OK, about the exile– I know we all guessed that Jude could pardon herself, but the fact that it’s actually canon that SHE DIDN’T REALIZE THAT.. makes me kinda sad?? Jude’s NOT an idiot and I think it would’ve been better if she had concocted a plan or at least if Cardan had gone to the mortal world sooner to get her himself, instead of Taryn getting her. Also, I loved Cardan recognizing that it was Jude and not Taryn, but (again) it ended SO FAST, and then Jude was stuck with Madoc and Oriana for super long. Jude’s always been one of my favorite badass characters for her scheming and cunning, but she didn’t seem like herself in this book. Scheming great schemes definitely didn’t happen in this book, folks.
“I bite the inside of my cheek, embarrassed by the fact that we were lovers, and wed, and it should hardly be a secret that we like each other.”
Back to the ending, the epilogue was frickin’ wild and the pacing of that pretty much sums up how many issues I had with the plotting of this book. I feel like so many topics from the previous books didn’t get touched on. Jude and Cardan barely talked about Balekin or what happened in the Undersea, Orlaugh was not even a factor, we get NO conclusion about if Jude is gonna like, stay mortal or if Oak is gonna actually rule or whatever the fuck. I NEED CLOSURE!!!
Some rapid fire areas that I want to talk about:
-LOVED Grima Mog. Such an interesting addition and she was great.
-Not enough Court of Shadows? I was sad that the Roach was taken out so early and I wanted more Jude-Cardan-Court of Shadows spy shit.
-Didn’t care at ALL for the Court of Teeth stuff. I felt that there were too many characters from Holly’s other books when it should’ve been focusing more on Jude and Cardan.
-The Ghost redemption!! Wasn’t expecting that at all but I am pleasantly surprised.
-BLESS THE SOULS on Tumblr who posted the exclusive Cardan letters (because the B&N edition is truly horrendous) because those were LIT. “Come be angry at a nearer distance”!!! SO GOOD. THEY LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH BYE.
I just ended this book feeling unsatisfied and disappointed. I’m THRILLED that Jude and Cardan ended up together (and ALIVE- I was very worried about Cardan for a moment there, Jesus Christ) and got to spend at least some of the book talking about their feelings instead of constantly being at each others’ throats, but it just all went by so fast. I think there were too many unnecessary side plots and I could’ve used an extra 100 pages to really flesh out the stuff that was happening in Elfhame and between Jude/Cardan. And to get better epilogue closure. Sigh. This is my least favorite overall book in the series, though it contains some great Jude and Cardan moments. My biggest gripe is with the pacing and plot choices. It’s just really sad and disappointing because this is one of my favorite series and it sucks to not get a great finale. 😦