You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
“I want to tell you so many lies.”
A billion spiteful stars.
Everything hurts, and no, I’m not okay. Holly is a delightfully cruel author and I love and hate her for it. It’s very confusing. I’m not sure I can write this review as a ‘sane’ person but I’ll try.
Disclosure: spoilers for the first book, but none for this one!
“Your ridiculous family might be surprised to find that not everything is solved by murder,” Locke calls after me.
“We would be surprised to find that,” I call back.
So, we still have Jude, who is as pleasant as ever as she schemes restlessly to keep the power she stole at the end of the first book. Not only does she have to keep Cardan, who is… well, the same Cardan we all came to love, in check, but she now has to deal with the entire court who would love nothing more than to do away with her.
But let’s start with our favorite resident princeling.
“You’ve won yourself a year and a day,” he told me. “But a lot can happen in a year and a day. Give me all the commands you want, but you’ll never think of everything.”
Cardan, while utterly himself, continued to surprise me. He’s one of those unpredictable wildcard characters, and though nothing he does is really ‘surprising’, he still leaves you baffled and scratching your head at every turn. But the best part? His relationship with Jude is tense, angsty, full of ‘what even just happened’ moments, and ahhh, I can’t say much more but it was so DAMN fun.
Maybe grab a fan.
“I wondered if it wasn’t you shooting bolts at me.”
I make a face at him. “And what made you decide it wasn’t?”
He grins up at me. “They missed.”
You never quite know what he has up his sleeve or his true intentions, and trust me, he’ll leave you guessing until the very end – not to mention, he might be a tad more powerful than we all expected.
“Surely you have noticed that since his reign began, the isles are different. Storms come in faster. Colors are a bit more vivid, smells are sharper.”
Then we have Madoc, Jude’s ‘stepfather’ whom she totally betrayed and made a fool of at the end of the first book. So, as you can guess, he’s not thrilled. So not only is Madoc and the rest of Jude’s ‘family’ on edge and trying to get their clutches on her, we have the rest of the faerie court, all of whom are suuuuper suspicious as to why Cardan has Jude by his side all the time. Oh, and then there’s Locke, who is still… awful. And he… of course… causes problems.
Basically, everyone wants to take Jude down.
As if that isn’t enough…
We have our lovely albeit rotten Queen of the Sea and her oh-so-sweet daughter, Nicasia, both of whom hate Jude with a fiery passion.
I’m not going to lie – this book is 90% court intrigue, scheming, and angst, which if you know me, that’s all I could ever want. If you aren’t into that, you might not love it as much as I did. But for me, it never ceased to entertain. Holly is brilliant, not only with her words and one-liners but with her planning and characterization.
Jude continues to be a unique, rage-filled yet somehow relatable character who stands out in the YA market. She’s fiery, witty, mean, and yet she still finds a way to burrow into your heart. That’s good writing, folks.
Full of twists and turns, I couldn’t put it down. So many scenes are like a punch in the face, while others made me feel like I was DROWNING, scrambling for air. If you thought the first book was cruel, you-know-nothing-John-Snow.
Because that ending.
This is your warning.