Book Reviews

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black | Book Review

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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.

Note: Spoilersssssss.

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And before you say “if you didn’t like the first two, why read the third one? Why bother even commenting at all?”

It’s my blog. Let me be. I’ll be nicer in the Goodreads review.

I genuinely did not think that this book could possibly get worse than the shitshow that was The Wicked King, and yet I was so unbelievably wrong, that I have never felt wronger about anything in my entire life. I actually went into this not absolutely hating it, and believed I had lowered my expectations low enough that they were underground and somehow, that would make it tolerable. It didn’t seem like that high of an ask. And yet, in under three hundred pages, this book actually made me want to give up reading, a hobby that has been a core pillar of my life since I could string two words together. That’s how bad it was, y’all. It felt like I was being made to sludge through mud, when instead I should have just walked around and avoided the mud puddle altogether.

I don’t even know where to begin, so I’m just going to dive right in. We are now in the third (and final, thank the Lord) book in this series, and yet, it somehow feels like there has been no plot to it at all. I strongly believe that this whole series could have been just one book. Three parts, one book. And while this is comparatively a rather small book, somehow it felt like the longest book in the world. Somehow, Holly Black manages to skim over the major plot points and spend chapters upon chapters on useless plot filler. This series as a whole had so much potential, if only we focused on what was actually important and interesting, instead of the dull parts that have no overall impact on the plot. There were so many points that were glossed over, they appeared like footnotes in the story. Instead, we get entire scenes of rubbish and minimal description about events that definitely should have been more drawn out. And that’s the start of all the things I found horrifying and ridiculous about this book.

Somehow, Taryn has not fallen off the face of the Earth for Jude yet, and that’s where everything begins to go downhill at an alarming rate. Coincidentally, it is also when we start to get those plot points that seem to have a point at first, but are minimally mentioned throughout the rest of the book and have no actual effect on the events throughout the book whatsoever. I literally burst out laughing when Taryn revealed she murdered Locke, and also happens to be pregnant with his child. I thought to myself, this is a great plot to have the rest of the book revolve around. I should have known better. Taryn’s pregnancy is mentioned maybe two or three times after this? It’s so forgettable that when someone mentions it, you get to re-learn all over again that she’s with child. Which means that it did not need to happen at all, except for the fact that the author, who banished her main character at the end of the last book, needed some way to get Jude back into Faerie with a mission. Obviously, since Taryn is good for nothing else, we’re going to make her a teen mother. Don’t even get me started about how she is not even worth redeeming whatsoever, and has no actual discernable personality traits other than the Worst Person in the World.

Taryn’s pregnancy is not the only plot point that literally did not need to happen at all. Remember when Oak was supposed to be on the throne? That thing that the whole series has revolved around since day one? To avoid having a cruel king or wicked king or whatever? Whatever happened to that? I had assumed that, after all Jude’s efforts from the very beginning, that would still be the motivator for every decision she ever makes, and yet somehow, it feels like everything shifted away from that goal the moment that Jude became the Queen of Faerie. Instead of doing everything to ensure her brother gets on the throne, Jude’s motivations seem to have revolved entirely on getting herself on the throne instead, since she now is apparently supposed to be there. I mean really, I don’t know what I expected from her. She can’t make up her damn mind about literally anything else. The amount of whiplash I continually get from her actions is actually quite dangerous, honestly. Let’s not even talk about when she tried to marry off her eight-year-old brother to another child.

Jude is her most insufferable in The Queen of Nothing. Somehow, after all that she’s supposedly been through (that we’ve more or less been told, not shown), she still doesn’t know what the hell she is doing and has no real plan for anything. She still cannot seem to figure anything out, and honestly, I don’t actually blame her, because there are so many plot twists in this book I had trouble keeping track. She’s not special. She doesn’t bring anything unique to the table. She’s just a regular human, who happens to somehow have been in the right place at the right time. She hasn’t seemed to have learned a thing over the past two books, and somehow is no better at solving any sort of problem than she was at the beginning of The Cruel Prince. I just cannot believe how impossibly thick she has remained the entire time.

Now seems to be a great time to talk about Cardan. Cardan somehow feels like an entirely different character in this book that the Cardan I’ve been experiencing in the rest of the series. Honestly, if this Cardan had been around since book one, I might actually have liked him. He’s almost the most interesting and intriguing one anyway. I wish the author had gone into more detail about his background and his relationships (I know, I can’t believe I’m saying that either). From the relationship he has with his mother, to being suckled by a freaking cat, to being raised by his brutally abusive older brother, to being part of a prophecy to rule the land of Faerie. I just can’t believe how glossed over it all was. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I just wanted more exploring into that background. We still never got more explanation for the cat suckling thing, which I absolutely want to know more details on. Who even comes up with that? (Is that why Cardan has a tail? I kid, I kid. But still, curious…) And also remember when his entire family was literally slaughtered by that said brother? Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you for forgetting, because it is not mentioned in this book even once. Despite how much I still hate Cardan passionately, could we at least have a little more background information? Something interesting?

Instead of, you know, Cardan turning into a freaking snake. I should have known, there is literally a broken crown and a snake on the cover. It is such an impossibly dumb plot point. And then somehow, no one could figure out how to save him, even though it was the easiest riddle alive. Then Jude almost bridled herself to the snake, or her father, or something, and it was a giant mess and utterly ridiculous. It feels like a dream, to be quite honest. The fact that all she had to do was chop off its head to save Cardan was so glaringly obvious to me that I genuinely thought it was supposed to be a trick. (And then they ate the snake after Cardan came back to life. Like, what the actual fuck. I can’t even talk about that.)

There are so many other dumb things in this book and series as a whole, so let’s just list them all so I can go to bed. The Court of Shadows have dumb names. There. I said it. I understand why they have those nicknames, but surely there was another way around it. It would be so awkward to call someone “The Bomb” to their face. And honestly, the whole concept of having someone’s true name means you gain power over them definitely should have be more thoroughly fleshed out and peppered throughout all three books. It’s such a powerful concept and it’s barely discussed at all. And the fact that Jude could not figure out that she could basically pardon herself and come back to Faerie on her own authority is hilarious to me. Now to be fair, I didn’t realise that either, but I’m not the one that the author is claiming is clever enough to orchestrate the entirety of this series’ plot on her own. The other dumb thing that is so ridiculous to me is that faeries can get married without any witnesses? Like all they have to do is basically say “we got married”, and people believe them? That seems like a huge plot hole to me, and incredibly dangerous.

I don’t even know what else to say about this book, just that I have never been more glad that it’s over. I know I didn’t have to read it, but I did, and it was such a waste of my time. It’s only 300 pages, and yet it felt like a thousand years. There is not a single character whose presence I enjoyed, good or bad, except perhaps for Heather, and I just want her to run far away from this magical bullshit and go enjoy her lesbian youth somewhere else. Vivi is not worth it, girl. None of it is worth it. I’m disappointed, and angry, and confused. I feel like I read an entirely different series than everyone else. I just don’t know what to think. I couldn’t even bring myself to have the energy to rant about Madoc again, although I feel like I could write papers about it. I had more fun reading actual trash novels than I did this, quite honestly. And with that, I will end this review with this quote, which may possibly be the only slightly redeemable thing about this book:

“There is no banquet too abundant for a starving man.”

Petition for a spin-off about Suren though. That could be incredibly interesting.

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