The Queen of Nothing | Review
It’s wicked that my first review after a blog hiatus is the sequel of the book directly before this. Yes, ladies and gents, The Queen of Nothing finally graced us with its 305 page existence. And I’m kinda miffed…?! There are spoilers, you’ve been warned!
Okay, okay, let’s start with the good things.
The characters. The characters have always been my favorite part about this series. The imperfections of human behavior mixed with enhanced dickery of faerie is just a delicious mix, especially when there is romantic chemistry brewing. We start off with Jude in the human world after being unofficially crowned Queen of Elfhame and exiled by her new husband. But that’s not the kicker of these first few chapters. The big twist is that Taryn is back, pregnant, and with her husband’s blood on her hands. Since Jude is the only human able to tell a lie in the faerie world, Taryn asks Jude to pretend to be her so she won’t get punished.
We then spend a good portion of the book with Jude pretending to be her twin sister. This takes the “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” on a whole new level as Jude has to traverse through various scenarios passing as the complete opposite of who she is. On some level, this starts to bring her closer to her twin sister who she’s drifted very far from following the last book.
She goes back to the very same building where she got exiled, and Carden immediately recognizes her. He takes her to the side and is under the impression that Jude has been avoiding him since the events of The Wicked King. He’s been sending love letters (love is real, ya’ll) but unbeknownst to him, his mother’s been intercepting them before they get to Jude.
Flash forward and Jude gets kidnapped by Madoc, her father figure, who thinks he’s rescuing Taryn. Madoc and Jude’s relationship reminds me of an unhealthier version of Karou and Brimstone’s foster daughter-father relationship in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. It’s hard not to be invested in a murderous father trying to raise his rebellious teenage adopted daughter.
Essentially, because Madoc thinks Jude is Taryn, his attitude is a lot sweeter and thoughtful. This causes Jude to see more of the father she had growing up than the menace she discovered later on. To me, this awakened a sliver of vulnerability due to the nostalgic memories of Madoc training Jude to becoming who she is now. She’s grown under his shadow whether she likes it or not; and it’s still he that pushes her to the direction of the throne in some capacity.
Throughout the story, Madoc is forming this grand scheme of waging war on Carden and getting the crown for himself. He convinces High Lord allies to join his side and plots his attack. It’s going to be war.
…Except it’s not. And this is when my disappointment seeps in.
The second half of the book is a build-up to the impending war with Madoc and his rebel army. Jude gets rescued by Carden and the Roach (who then spends the rest of the book in a coma) and tries to devise a way for them to win, while finally serving her queenly duties. Joining Jude’s team is Grima Mog, who easily becomes the MVP of this entire novel. We get some cute scenes with Carden and Jude, but nothing quite as romantic until one of Carden’s later scenes when he proclaims his love for her.
It’s when Carden turns into a snake that I definitely start losing interest. While he’s gone, Jude tries to play politics and comes near to calling a truce with Madoc. Madoc tries to trick her by giving her a bridle that can control snake!Carden. Jude thinks briefly that Carden wouldn’t want that, but still considers it multiple times so she can keep him by her side. Eventually, she begins to set up a trap for Madoc and his posse but alas, she never uses the trap.
She turns snake!Carden back to regular!Carden by basically killing the snake. Carden is kind of rebirthed in some way and walks out of the corpse, and Jude is deemed their savior. This set up didn’t really make sense to me. I honestly thought Jude was going to have to sacrifice herself and her act of love (or the power of her blood post-marriage) would save them both. But in reality, Madoc could have slain the snake, and the same result would have happened.
Overall, I enjoyed the first half of the book tremendously. I was in it for the long haul. Each page was enticing and didn’t make me want to look away. But then I got to the second half and slowly started wondering if it was necessary making it this long. I started pulling scenarios where it could have ended at this point or that point. In the end, all of this could have been ignored had there been a follow through with the severity of Madoc’s war that didn’t last just a few pages.
Final Verdict: I give it a 3.5/5 stars not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I expected a finale that was going to blow me away. It’s still a good book and I would still recommend this to anyone looking for a good faerie series.
The Cruel Prince
The kickstarter to a gamechanging fae world narrative. Prepare for a book coma.
The Wicked King
If you couldn’t believe in more treachery and trickery, this one will shock you.