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The Folk of the Air #3

The Queen of Nothing

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After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watches her fair share of reality television, and does the odd job or two, including trying to convince a cannibalistic faerie from hunting her own in the mortal world.

When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking of a favor, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal.

When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and uncover how to break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.

305 pages, Paperback

First published November 19, 2019

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About the author

Holly Black

175 books92.2k followers
Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
May 30, 2020

1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★
1.5) The Lost Sisters ★★★★★
2.) The Wicked King ★★★★★

“By you, I am forever undone.”

I can’t believe it’s over. I feel like I’ve been in love with Holly Black’s fae stories my entire life and seeing this series finally close means more to me than I have words for, truly. This series, this world, these characters, have brought me so much unconditional happiness, and I truly am not ready to say goodbye, but I do think this was a very perfect ending.

Also, a couple things before I start this actual review: 1.) I vlogged this entire reading experience (and how I wrote this review) and I hope you enjoy! 2.) This review will talk about events that happened in The Cruel Prince, The Lost Sisters, & The Wicked King, so please use caution while reading! And I will have a spoiler section for QoN later!

After the very heartbreaking end of The Wicked King, Jude is now exiled from Faerie and a crown that no one knows she wears. Madoc is ready and willing to do anything to put Oak or himself on the throne, regardless of what Oak wants while living in the mortal realm with Vivi. Taryn is now married to Locke, for better or for worse, and regardless of what Jude thinks on the matter.

“We have lived in our armor for so long, you and I. And now I am not sure if either of us knows how to remove it.”

Everything feels like it is chaos, and at the start of this book we see Jude slowly accept her fate, while also learning the pain of her anger and betrayal. She is taking side-jobs from the fae residing among humans, and she just takes on a job that is about to really test her skills. Especially when she comes out of the job realizing that things might really not be going that great for Cardan in the realm of the fae. But Jude doesn’t care, right? But she gets an opportunity to go to faerie and see for herself, regardless of her exiled status, and the situation is a matter of life and death.

It’s hard to say anything else without going into spoiler territory, but I truly loved this book so much. I can’t believe how much Holly Black was able to surprise me, especially with the amount of theorycrafting I truly believed I did. From the cover, to the title, to the sneak peaks we were given; I was truly not ready for the twists and turns of this book and this entire trilogy is just masterfully crafted.

“I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all.”

And at the heart of this book, I just really enjoyed the theme and discussion of all the different and complex relationships we will have in our lives. We see Jude constantly battling with herself and her feelings; from her past to her future, from her family to her crown, from her feelings to her heart. There are so many wars in this book, but most of them truly are from within Jude, and Holly Black really expertly talks about the human experience and existence.

“But for one final night, he’s the father I remember best, the one in whose shadow I have—for better or worse—become what I am.”

Relationships can be so very hard and so very not pretty. Obviously we get to see Jude and Cardan, obviously we get to see Jude and her sisters, but seeing Jude and Madoc? That’s what kept breaking me. How do you love a father who became your father by killing your own? A father that loves you so very much, but loves power more? Jude and Madoc are truly the kings of this book and this chessboard, and their dynamic is truly unlike one I’ve read before. So heartbreakingly beautiful, truly.

This next section of my review is going to have SPOILERS! Please do not read on if you have not read The Queen of Nothing and all the rest of the books in this series! Also, like always, I’m going to do fangirl breakdowns because it warms my heart.

“It feels good to be fighting someone other than myself.”

Jude Duarte - My actual queen. Seeing Jude realize not only her worth, but that it is okay to hurt and to be angry, yet also that it is worth the risk to let people in sometimes; I don’t even have words, friends. Jude’s pain just resonated so much inside my heart and soul and I truly think she is one of the best literary characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about.

“He’s so beautiful, so perfectly, horribly, inhumanly beautiful that I can barely breathe.”

Cardan Greenbriar - My entire heart. All of Cardan’s lines truly broke and healed me throughout this entire book. Seeing him be the king of his people’s dreams, but also the king of his own dreams? Forever crying. Also, we stan an otp power couple for life. Truly, for life; Jude, please never leave faerie again.

Nicasia - We love a good redemption arc, wow.

Grima Mog - Nothing but love and respect for my war general.

Taryn Duarte - Oh Taryn. Listen, her pregnancy was expected, but her actually killing Locke was not. I will say that I think this was the weakest part of the story, and I truly wish we could have seen more, but maybe Holly Black is going to give us another few novellas or something. Especially with a certain bard boy? But seriously, I need so many more answers.

Vivi - My 2019 bi-icon. I was rooting for Vivi and Heather so damn hard, and I was so scared at what Vivi was going to do this book, but she was amazing through and through. When she told Madoc to bring his entire army? The biggest flex in all of 2019 literature and I was quaking.

Oak - Wow, I’m going to love me a good spin-off.

Madoc - Madoc was the character that probably made me cry the most throughout this entire series. Loving people can be so very hard, and each journey is so very different, but Madoc just really amplifies these statements and it hurts (in the best way possible) to read. The parallels between him and Jude, both truly born in blood, and seeing the different paths they take to fight each other, while always loving each other, it’s really something that I don’t have words for, but it is truly heartbreakingly beautiful.

Locke - Wow, he actually did die and Taryn actually did kill him. The biggest bamboozle of the entire book, and please call me boo boo the fool from now on while I apply my clown makeup.

Okay, let’s talk about some of the big things in this book while we are in this spoiler section, too. Let’s just get the snake out of the bag (end me). You know, with all the buzz about the 2019 YA book snake, I really didn’t expect for Cardan to turn into her. Wow, truly wow. I love a good fairytale twist in my fae stories, and it was truly one worthy of ballads. Seeing Jude realize that she would rather not have Cardan than only being able to have him controlled? I will be forever crying. So beautiful. Also, the sword she did it with? Truly forever crying.

I will forever and always be so surprised that Locke was not the big bad of this series and honestly? He deserved a better death and storyline ender. Like, I couldn’t believe Madoc was truly the endgame villain. This book was still so perfect to me, but this was what truly let me down the most. I wanted a satisfying Locke death and a true villain story, but it felt bad that we didn’t get that.

“Tell me what I must slay, what I must steal, tell me the riddle I must solve or the hag I must trick. Only tell me the way, and I will do it, no matter the danger, no matter the hardship, no matter the cost.”

I also didn’t love how Cardan told everyone that him and Jude got married. I mean, trust me, I screamed and rolled around in my bed like I was thirteen, but I still wanted something more. Also, the exiled scheme he made up? Baby, that’s not it. But whatever, because when he told her that he loved her it was truly the best thing my eyes have ever read for all of 2019 and you won’t hear me complaining. Truly OTP status worthy and the best enemies to lovers I will probably ever read.

I’ve had a few people tell me that they thought I’d find the ending a bit cheesy (no, this isn’t a pizza dad joke), and that’s valid, because it is a bit cheesy. But I just love these characters so much and they deserve so much happiness that I just felt really blessed to be able to experience that with them for an epilogue. Also, I have really high hopes for what is to come with Oak, because there is no way that Holly Black set that up to not masterfully tell what is to come for Faerie.

I will also be honest and say that this was probably my least favorite in the series. Also, these books are always split up in two parts (or books), and the first half of this was six star worthy. Truly better than anything I’ve read this entire year. It was the last half (and cheesy epilogue) that didn’t quite live up to my expectations. But again, this series just means so much to me and it truly feels once in a lifetime to me.

Overall, I just believe this is the series of my heart. Holly Black and her fae stories have truly shaped me into the reader and reviewer I am today. I owe her so much, and this concluding novel just felt like lifeblood to me. No other book has made me as happy reading. No other book has had me spam refreshing my kindle app to make sure it downloads. No other book has ever been more my brand. And I’m not sure if any book series ever will. It is a truly honor to read and review this book, and it’s more of an honor that some people correlate it with me. I know that no amount of words that I string together will ever adequately do justice to how much these books mean to me, but I promise to shout about them forever, and keep them in my heart always. And I hope that every reader has a series that makes them feel the way The Folk of the Air has made me feel.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: death, murder, war themes, gore, blood depiction, talk of cannibalism, and torture.

Bonus – Park Jimin, forever and always my Cardan. Bye.

(Bless Annaveeart/Kuhleesee for the best art piece I've ever seen in my entire life!)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for MischaS_.
785 reviews1,371 followers
July 14, 2020
Okay... excuse me if I make zero sense... I am somewhat sleep-deprived. (I may edit this review after I catch a quick nap! I kept thinking about what I wanted to write before I fell asleep and now I feel like I forgot half of it.)

Right away, I want to say that this was an amazing series, one I did not believe I would enjoy as much as I did. And I believe I will re-read it one day. But that said I had some issues with the finale.

Since I read the second book, I was making theories. I wondered what would happen. Months of this torture!

When I saw that this book is only 300 pages, I was terrified; clearly, that is not enough! But the good thing is that the plot really starts right away! No need to wait for the halfway mark. In this sense, this book is the best in the series.

However, with the book being this short, I feel like something is missing. When I turned the last page, I felt sad because it could not be the last page. After all, there were so many things that needed to be resolved.
Here is the list of things I believe are sort of missing from the book:

Okay, so somehow I jumped right to the end of this book. I have no idea why I did that.

This book needed more Cardan; I felt like there was not enough of him in the whole book.

Then, Locke, you might know that I actually liked him and his devious ways. So, I have to say that

I very much enjoyed how action-packed this book was. It was super easy to read, and the first time I stopped for a moment, I was halfway through the book. The pages just flew!

The cover is a masterpiece, and I would never ever guessed how fantastically it represents the story. That's something... I can only clap, very well done. I did not expect this moment at all, but it was the only one in the whole book.

And then there is my main grievance with this book.

Right now, I feel that this was somewhat anticlimactic. And too easy.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 9, 2020

Just posted my Goodreads Choice 2020 Reaction Video on Booktube! Click the link to check it out!!

As a heads up, I got my copy from Owl Crate - a truly wonderful book subscription box. A favorite for special editions.*
Is it just me, or was the box particularly brilliant this round?
Because, wow. It was incredible. Especially the little spoons.
And the gorgeous beetle pin.
I just couldn't handle it.
*not a sponsor, just a fan.
His eyes are black with desire.
"By you, I am forever undone.”
Jude, the mortal Queen of Faerie, is exiled to the human realm by the King Cardan.

She's convinced that this punishment is intended to go on indefinitely and begins taking odd jobs - including one involving a cannibalistic faerie.

But then her sister comes back - Taryn, who commits an unspeakable act and is now on trial for her life.

Jude is the only mortal that Taryn can turn to - and with Jude's ability to resist glamour and lie, maybe, just maybe both sisters will survive.

Ahhh. What a satisfying end to a fabulous series. My heart cannot be fuller.

So many wonderfully twisty and twisted moments.
Come home and shout at me. Come home and fight with me. Come home and break my heart, if you must.
So many darkly wicked moments with Cardan.
That boy is your weakness.
Ahhh. If only it was longer.

ps. I f*cking knew it.

Jude, you really are an idiot.
YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,989 reviews298k followers
April 10, 2023
Reread 01/23: Easily one of my all-time favourite series. I just adore everything about it.

"By you, I am forever undone."

Was this series the most perfectly-plotted? The most unique? Did it break any new ground? No to all of the above. But I read every page of this with my heart pounding and a lump in my throat-- how many perfectly-plotted, unique and ground-breaking books can I say that about?

These books are a serious addiction for me. I have been obsessing over this conclusion for over a year and imagining so many wonderful and awful ways it could end. I wasn't disappointed. It was thrilling, (mostly) satisfying, and VERY HOT .

I am in that perfect blissful misery that us readers know all too well... feeling wonderful because I have just read a book I loved, and feeling depressed because what the hell do I do with myself now? 😭

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
November 20, 2019
bad news: found out i DO NOT have the power to manifest dreams into reality.

good news: even though my ending is definitely better, i am wholly content with how this ends.


i had a dream last night that i snuck into the little brown publishing office, stole a copy of this, and read the final scene.

it was taryns funeral, with carden and jude laughing wickedly together in dark love over her casket.

never in my life have i wanted to manifest something into existence so much.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Melissa.
361 reviews624 followers
December 16, 2020
I had the biggest knot in my throat throughout the entire story! Just so good, albeit predictable but awesome nonetheless!

This shit ain't even out and I'm already stressing
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
February 28, 2020
By now, most of you have probably heard that The Folk of the Air series will be a duology instead of a trilogy. No books will be coming out after The Wicked King. As you can imagine this has taken quite a toll on me. Please respect my privacy during this difficult time. Thank you.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,196 followers
September 13, 2021
A concept: a sitcom where Cardan moves to the human world and tries to adapt to its rules and lifestyle, Oak faces high school , Heather and Vivi fight constantly, all in one house, while Jude tries to handle them all.
Profile Image for Kat.
270 reviews80k followers
July 12, 2022
ok, the ending was pretty rushed and weak, BUT tbh i still had a lot of fun with this and i’m feeling generous
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,301 reviews43.9k followers
April 23, 2022
LAST UPDATE: TATATATA! Added most of the very famous groveling letters of Cardan. You may find them hid inside my review!!!! You're welcome friends!

I did everything to finish these series slower. I did have so many coffee, snack, wine, lunch, brunch, happy hour, more happy hour, oh no I’m sooo drunk I cannot feel my legs but I still cannot help myself reading this last book hour breaks!

It didn’t work because the story already captivated my mind and I started scheming great schemes , biting my nails, taming the snakes (no spoiler but book makes you think they could be charming and friendly creatures), devouring more ice cream ( as one of my character of this book, -of course it’s VIVI!- revenge maybe sweet but ice cream is sweeter! I’m suffering from brain freeze after the second galloon but it’s totally worth it!) turning the pages excitedly.

Pacing is incredibly fast, heart throbbing, head spinning, surprising, twisty, making you question who you are, what is date of today, who is the president (okay, let’s consider I didn’t ask the last question), after a little mind melting shock later, you come back and realize this book ended and you’re suffering from seven stages of grief but you need to skip all those stages and reach the acceptance and hope part because this book gave us satisfying, a little hmmm really, okay ending.

If I have to compare it with the second book, Wicked King was so much better but at least we got our great conclusion and passionate love story, didn’t we?
So let’s announce the awards for those amazingly developed characters:

Best ensemble : “Court of Shadows”: Roach and The Bomb were my favorite, remarkable assassins. I have complex feelings about the Ghost because of the betrayal to my dearest queen and his cruel execution he conducted at the past. My spider senses tell me that in the future we’re gonna see him at another sequel and he will be paired with Taryn ( don’t say hell no! Read the last parts again, the author gave us the hints about it and Taryn has already her own novella so they can have her second one. )

Victimized, being wronged character of the century: LOCKE!!! He was the best antihero you can imagine and I simply fantasized million ways to torture this sneaky bastard but when I read what the author decided to do to him, I didn’t find it fair! We definitely need a sequel to explain his story so my spider senses tell me again the author will write a new about Taryn.

I don’t like her I don’t hate her and I didn’t forget her betrayal because I’m unforgiving witch with elephant memory awards: Taryn again! I know she can sew and create amazing stitches which helps saving lives but I still have second thoughts about her.

Outstanding heroine in the field of faeries: Let me hear you chant for “GRIMAAAA MOGGGG!”! I loved this badass woman and her assisting to this spectacular adventure.

BEST VILLAIN, MOTHER-KILLER, COMPLEX FATHER: MADOC! I liked the love-hate, dysfunctional relationship between daughter and father! He was remarkable, unforgettable and also at some ways likable villain. He mentored, raised Jude and now he started to be afraid of what kind of monster he created.

FANTASTIC COUPLE: Cardan and Jude: enemies to enemies-enemies to lovers ( unfortunately they never became friends) As I see the nominations of romance books, I have to admit this complex, honest, passionate couple are going to be one of my all time favorite couples. ( Number one is of course Christian and Anastassia, okay, I’m kidding, I just want to check if you still give me your full attention!)

MY FAVORITE CHARACTER OF THE BOOK: VIVI- your ideal bestie/sister/book sister, cool, smartass, down to earth, entertaining, loyal , great listener, problem solver. I wish instead of Taryn, she can get her own sequel.

BEST SHOCKING TWIST: SSSS… Hearing the hissing sound, I didn’t see it coming and of course let’s clap the wisdom of Jude to find her own solution against the curse! Did it work it? Lips are sealed!

BEST LOVE LETTERS: Those groveling wicked king’s letters enlightened my night and day!

As a result I’m sorry they finished but I’m gladly ready to read anything Holly Black writes in the near future even it’s a postcard or shopping list !!!!!

Profile Image for walkingtragedy.
98 reviews56 followers
November 23, 2022
they truly took “would you still love me if i was a worm?” to a whole new level
Profile Image for  Teodora .
329 reviews1,777 followers
April 15, 2023
4.75/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf🐺

“Maybe it isn’t the worst thing to want to be loved, even if you’re not.”

This final book is all about love and being loved and who didn’t see or wanted to believe that, I have news – it is all true.

In this book, the action that was so vivid in the first volume and slowed a bit down in the second one starts to pick up the pace again. But there is something different about the action of this third book. It feels more twisty.

I personally believe that the action is all in the details. There is this bread crumble effect to it that lures you bit by bit in the whole story just to make you think and forces you to use your imagination and judgement. I really liked that.


Feelings here just go deeper. They get intensified by the discovery of that fine line between hate and love. The whole blinding veil that’s been dropped over the slightly odd relationship between Jude and Cardan is lifted and now our two protagonists seem to really be on the same page (of course, with some issues on the way that no one saw coming or saw too late but eh).

That is truly amazing though because we lived in this constant tension between both of them, a tension that I appreciated but I wanted to see the slight end of it.

“I mean, you’re generally terrifying, but I am unused to fearing for you.”

After being away from each other, Jude and Cardan discover that they mean a lot more in each other’s life. They discover feelings that they did not know were there or did not want to acknowledge, feelings such as compassion and care and that unsettling feeling of missing. They get all sentimental when thinking of each other. They become tender, shovelling away that hate that tore into their hearts and replacing it with affection. How beautiful of a relationship growth can that be??

“My sweet nemesis, how glad I am that you returned.”

With this book, I started liking again some of the characters that somehow disappointed me in the second book, characters such as Vivi and at some parts Taryn, even though I am still not very fond of her. The greatest surprise for me though was that, until the end of the trilogy, I started to low key like Nicasia too. Weren’t expecting that, were you? Yeah, me neither, but the girl deserves some appreciation for the little good she did.

Jude is still in my good graces. She’s been a constant and I kind of enjoyed her change of character, shaped by the action and events. I liked the fact that she was constantly portrayed as a girl who wants to make a name for herself. She’s rebellious and power-thirsty, but she doesn’t get pulled to the dark side of those traits because she’s also very self-conscious and she tends to take advantage of her blind luck to guide her every move.

Now. If you thought that I loved Cardan in the first two books, then you’re not completely wrong. But I feel like I just “loved” him back then, you know? In this one I really loved him.

There was this face of Cardan that no one has seen until now. This face of him I like. This face of him I love. This face of him I obsess over. It’s just too amazing.


Sure, he might be charming, he might be devilish, he might be witty (and I also want to see his tail if you know what I mean 😏), but he’s all that and more. He’s gentle, he’s wise, he’s determined. Hell, he’s one of the most I-am-not-romantic-but-I-might-have-wrote-love-poems-about-you persons I’ve ever encountered in my life and I am totally grateful for that!

And also – important like the air fact – those letters, guys.

There were those bloody letters Cardan sent to Jude…I am still not over them. I demand you to find them and read them after finishing The Queen of Nothing because they are more precious than gold. Cardan is, in fact, more precious than gold.

And also seeing his and Jude’s relationship bloom so beautifully, the letter thingy gets even more precious!


This book is good. The whole trilogy is good. Holly Black is a gifted writer and I enjoyed her world-building, her plot and her characters so very much. I appreciated everything that was happening and I am declaring myself a fan (mostly of Cardan, but still, a fan).

And one last great aspect of the trilogy – the circularity of it. Everything ends in the same spot it started, and I’m not talking about a mental state but a physical one – the mortal world. With that, the circle is complete. And the trilogy – a success.

“At night, the human world looks as though it’s full of fallen stars.”

Also see:
1. The Cruel Prince (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
2. The Wicked King (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
October 27, 2020
“All power is cursed. The most terrible among us will do anything to get it, and those who’d wield power best don’t want it thrust upon them.”

Please tell me that the only reason why this books was so short is that Holly Black is planning an elaborate new Faerie series with equally backstabbing, ruthless characters and vaults filled with rotten magic. Because I don't think I can make myself accept this was the last we heard of Faerie.

The Folk of the Air books have easily become one of my favourite series in YA fantasy. The Wicked King is my favourite because it's undoubtedly Holly Black at her best. The Queen of Nothing was...not that. Don't get me wrong, I ate it up. It was fantastic. But it did not quite compare to what came before. And I can tell you exactly why: the book was too short. I mean, all three books were very fast-paced. That's part of their magic. They don't give you time to breathe. But with this one I often wished Holly would slow down, focus more on the details, set the scene. I fear that that's why a certain character literally fell victim to negligence. Taryn, too, never actually received the absolution she needed. She was this complex, unpredictable character. Until she wasn't. She became nice, docile even. Her character arc was thrown out of the window. And what for, I ask. It's been only a week since I finished this book and rated it 5 stars but the more I think about it, the more underwhelmed I become. I almost forgot how it ended. At the same time, I will never ever forget the finale of The Wicked King.
But there were good parts. Amazing parts. Jude's fight with the redcap or her fall onto the banquet table (I secretly wish I could draw cause I'd create this (obviously) stunning portrait of Jude lying half-dead and dazed but badass-looking on the table with fruit like poisonous jewels and broken glass and smashed plates and my artwork would then be turned into the Netflix promo poster for The Cruel Prince, Season 3, but...I can't fucken draw.)

Anyway, this book felt a bit like King of Scars, which I loved with all my heart but had some major flaws that I couldn't overlook. Fingers firmly crossed for a sequel series.

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Profile Image for diana.
135 reviews209 followers
January 31, 2023
normalize men saying “by you i am forever undone”
Profile Image for emma.
1,865 reviews54.3k followers
June 15, 2022

What a relief, to return to disliking Holly Black books.

For years, I was on a 100% lack of enjoyment streak. And then...suddenly...after I read The Wicked King mostly by mistake (can we just shout out the fact that that title reads like the title of the first book run through a thesaurus)...I caught myself in a dilemma.

I actually had fun while reading that one.

But not to worry. Clearly we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. This was very meh for me.

I had a lot of fun with the second one, even though I hated most things about it.

This was less fun.

This was more “let’s tie up the loose ends of this mess we’ve created. We have this gross disgusting hateful relationship filled with suffering and toxicity that we have to make into a romance by force for some reason. Everyone hates each other and we have to stop that. Also we have to figure out some kind of event or plot or action, which maybe we’ll do in the second half but let’s not worry about it right now.”

Moments of this reminded me of...and this is the worst possible thing I can say about any book...A Court of Wings and Ruin. You know. A lot of people standing around talking to each other when war was supposed to happen. A shoved-together romance that a lot of people like for some reason. The only cool stuff lightly stolen from fairytales.

Overall, a massive bummer.

But seriously WHY do Holly Black books ALWAYS have plots that start like two thirds in?? It’s inexcusable. They’re YA fantasy books and they’re like 12 pages long. What the hell.

And let’s not forget that I truly hate these characters. Jude is the kind of 2012-era Badass But No Other Personality female protagonist I thought we left behind with the dystopian subgenre and love triangles. But here she is.

Cardan is the trope I know I’ll never escape. The Asshole With Frowny-Face Past. And I may have resigned myself to never getting rid of these bozos, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

Everyone else matters not at all, or matters for like 2 pages max.

But somehow...I’m still kinda sad this series is over. It does include the only Holly Black book I’ve halfway enjoyed.

Enough emotion.

Bottom line: I did not like this book. Relatedly, the universe has righted itself.

tbr review

in the span of a week, i went from expecting to never read a Holly Black book again to being unable to wait to read this.

Profile Image for Alana.
684 reviews1,308 followers
November 24, 2019
"For what we want most, we will take almost any chance."

Let me preface this by saying I've always been honest in my reviews and I'm not about to start sugar-coating things now. So, if you loved this book and are willing to down fighting tooth and nail over it, do you. You're entitled to your opinions and they're totally valid since we all have different reading experiences. If you loved this book, I'm happy for you but this just wasn't for me. And it's not that it was bad, I mean, I devoured it in one day. But basically on every single level this book did not live up to my expectations which was something I worried was going to happen.  To put it simply this was underwhelming AF and instead of writing some nice cohesive review let's just break it down, shall we?

What I Liked

👸🏻 Jude. Jude is basically the one thing in this book that felt the most authentic from start to finish. I think out of everyone in the book her character development was the best. And I will always appreciate how badass she is and the fact that she basically takes what she wants out of life, no questions asked.

🌎 The worlds. I really liked that there was more of a clash of Faerie and the mortal world in this book. It added a nice element to the story imagining some of the fae characters doing things like eating pizza or learning what gummy worms were and left a nice lighthearted touch to the story. I also loved being back in Faerie. This fae world is without a doubt my favorite and I'll always love how Holly Black is basically the master of creating all things faerie. The TRUEE Queen of Faerie.

👵🏻 Grima Mog. The MVP of the story. Don't even try and change my mind.

What I Didn't Like

🧚🏻‍♂️ Cardan. Let's start with my first biggest issue with the book, and that's Cardan. Now, I know that obviously a hate to love story is not going to stay on the "hate" side forever. I get that. However, what I was not expecting is to have two books filled with so much hate and then book three Cardan turns around and is just all mushy, gooey, head over in heels "I'll die without Jude by my side". Like what?! Meanwhile homeboy would have killed her with a smile on his face during the last two books. Where is the growth? Don't just expect us to believe it. SHOW US. Show us how much pain Cardan was in while Jude was in exile IN. THE. STORY...not in the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition all the way at the end that most reader's won't get to experience!!! Honestly, I'm low-key heated about this whole thing. When I read the letters in the back of my book I could not believe that they were not included in the story. That was such a bad move since those letters would have given Cardan just an ounce of decent character development.

📈 Pacing. The beginning of this book didn't necessarily drag, but it also didn't do anything for me either. With the first two books if anyone even looked at me while I was trying to read they would have gotten screamed at, however, with this one once I hit chapter five I was like "alright nothing's happening let me take a break." Things eventually did start to pick up once you hit part two but that's halfway through the story. At that point I was shitting bricks thinking there was no possible way everything was going to be resolved in the next 150 pages. Much to my surprise it was, but it was mediocre as hell.

⚔️ Battle Scene. Where was it? Because I'm still waiting. I legitimately cannot believe Jude got strapped for battle and then it just literally lasted like 2.5 pages...maybe less. It was so anticlimactic and predictable that I had to laugh. Where are the twists and turns books one and two delivered?! Why was there nothing that shocked me in this book?Holly Black's plot twists usually take my breath away and it was all just so predictable and underwhelming. 

🔚 The end. In terms of wrapping up the series it was pretty weak and again super underwhelming. After the whole battle scene I knew that any hope of a truly good wrap up was out the window.

All in all, this was definitely the weakest out of all three books for me, but I don't think three stars is a bad rating. It's average and that's exactly what this book was for me. The Wicked King will always be my favorite and I'm perfectly fine with having the first two books be basically perfection. So, am I sad to see these characters go? After this book not really. But would I read more books written in the Faerie world? Absolutely.

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Profile Image for Ali Goodwin.
169 reviews17k followers
April 8, 2023
wow WOW wOW Wow IM OBSESSED and so sad I’m now done with this series 😭 this book and this whole series was SO GOOD!! I love the politics, the world, our main character Jude, and THE ROMANCE. I could read 3829272 more books with these characters and this world.

This book was my favorite in the series because it was so fast paced and always kept me guessing. I was so stressed towards the end with how everything could possibly get resolved. I also love that there are so many morally grey characters in this series. Basically Every character has flaws which I love & makes it feel so much more realistic.

A series hasn’t made me feel like this in a long time.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
432 reviews1,792 followers
March 3, 2020
“Mortals are fragile,’ I say.

‘Not you,’ he says in a way that sounds a little like a lament. ‘You never break.”

⚠DO NOT continue if you HAVE NOT read book one (The Cruel Prince) and book two(The Wicked King) ⚠

Jude, the High Queen of faerie has been exiled by her busband Carden Greenbriar. Her father Madoc is still set on claiming the throne for himself through means of war and Jude is beyond frustrated with her uselessness of being stuck in the mortal world.

But when an opportunity to sneak back into Faerie under guise presents itself, Jude grabs it with both hands. Things don't go according to plan and Jude finds herself once again surrounded by enemies.

“I am the Queen of Elfhame. Even though I am the queen in exile, I am still the queen. And that means Madoc isn’t just trying to take Cardan’s throne. He’s trying to take mine.”

I thoroughly enjoyed The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King and like many, I have been anticipating this book's release for months.

This book, unfortunately, just didn't have the ‘wow factor’ that it's predecessors had. And the entire time I was holding my breath waiting to be blindsided — it didn't come.

Though I am disappointed with this finale, Queen of Nothing still had that easy writing that Holly is known for. Writing that you can't help but getting sucked into.

I adored the epilogue and I will be very upset if this is the last we get set in this world from Holly Black. I'd even take a novella. Just give us something!
« Thank you to the publishers for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review »
My reviews for:
NB: all these books are set in the same world.

The Folk of the Air series
Book #1 : The Cruel Prince
Book #1.5 : The Lost Sisters
Book #2 : The Wicked King

Modern Faerie Tales series
Book #1 : Tithe
Book #2 : Valiant
Book #3 : Ironside
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
January 5, 2023
4.5 stars

I gulped it down in a matter of a few hours (and some chapters *cough*21*cough* I may have read a few times), and while I am currently a little hazy on the details of The Queen of Nothing, I am left with a sense of satisfaction and peace. This series is a success, IMO.

I am not going to get into details of the plot. The fact that I couldn't stop reading/listening to this story speaks for itself (alternatively, I couldn't wait NOT to read The Toll anymore just a week ago). The biggest triumph of this story is undoubtedly my favorite ship of the last few years - Jude and Cardan. There are some twists and turns in The Queen of Nothing, but the biggest of them all is how healthy this relationship grows to be. Who could have guessed? I still don't know how Holly Black managed to pivot it this way. I had expected much more drama after the ending of The Wicked King, but what I got was... more and better.

There is a couple of gripes I do have. I feel that there is a lot left unsaid about Taryn. Maybe there is a short story in the works? I wouldn't want a full novel though. And the bigger one which people will probably be complaining the most - the resolution of the final conflict is too drawn out and too transparent to warrant the page time. A lot of Black's books suffer from this same affliction.

But I rate books based on my gut feeling. And my gut and my heart are happy and a little nostalgic already. I can't wait to reread it over and over again.

P.S. It may be a sick thing to say, but how is it that this teen (!) novel is hotter than all the romances that I've read or attempted to read this year?
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,935 followers
May 25, 2020
Reread 2020. I’ve decided to unhaul these hardbacks. Maybe get them on kindle on sale. I’m just not feeling them like I used to

I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn’t have one at all. Even now, it is a shabby, worm-eaten, and scabrous thing. But it is yours.

Omg! That cover! I’m feeling all magical inside! 💕🌸🦄

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,605 reviews10.7k followers
August 7, 2023
((crying all the tears))

It is done.

In this final installment of The Folk of the Air trilogy, we find Jude back in the mortal world, trying to recover from the events of The Wicked King.

Her heart is hurt, her alliances smashed to bits, but as our girl Jude is apt to do, she is solely focused on getting back what she has lost. Her strong will and strength of spirit are definitely characteristics we can get behind.

Unexpectedly, her annoying sister, Taryn arrives, pleading for Jude's help. She has done something terrible and sees Jude as her only path to salvation.

Surprise, surprise.

How convenient for her.

This help requires Jude sneaking back into the Faerie Court under the guise of being Taryn. What could possibly go wrong?

Once there, Jude finds Elfhame on the brink of war, with the political class and society in general running amok.

Can Jude save her sister and her power before everything is ruined?

I'm sad, man. Yes, everything was wrapped up, but this felt so quick; too quick. I needed more time with my babies!

Why you play me like this, Holly Black?

I'll be honest, I feel like I didn't retain much of this story. Completely not the book's fault. I was just so anxious to know how it was going to turn out, I flew through it.

I definitely plan to reread this entire series at some point, to really soak it in. With this being said, I do wish this installment had been a bit longer.

I came away feeling like this portion of the story felt very surface level. I wanted it to go deeper. This could be me just being hurt that it has come to an end, however.

Either way, a great series overall. So glad that I read it and look forward to reading them all again at some point.

Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,956 followers
November 21, 2020
I am not, contrary to the belief of many, a cold, heartless rock. Though sometimes I feel like one. To support my claim, I present to you my notes page, in its entirety.

"It's you I love," he says. "I spent much of my life guarding my heart. I guarded it so well that I could behave as though I didn't have one at all. Even now, it is a shabby, worm-eaten, and scabrous thing. But it is yours."

That's it. Those are my notes. You see? I'm capable of shipping a romance without tearing it into pieces smaller than my heart a rowan berry!

Only two characters can lie in this book, and yet the number of betrayals and the amount of treachery that goes on is staggering. And I love it. This is court politics at its finest, balanced with action and romance and character development and BANTER. Yes. Authors, take note.

The dynamic between Cardan and Jude is perfection.

My sweet nemesis, how glad I am that you returned.

They were enemies to start with, and then sort-of friends but mostly allies, and then MARRIED, and I--

Warms My Cold Dead Heart GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Proof I can actually feel emotions. *screaming*

Anyway. This was supposed to be a review, but my heart isn't cooperating. Curse you, emotions. Maybe it was easier being ✨heartless.✨

Heart Melt GIFs | Tenor

⬆️ my heart right now

6 stars (Goodreads needs to get a better rating system)
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,093 reviews17.7k followers
May 3, 2021
While I walked the path of daggers and poison, she walked the no less fraught path of desire.

everyone else: excitedly getting started on the Wicked King
me staring at Holly Black’s window and quoting the SNL Papyrus skit: I know what you did. I KNOW WHAT YOU DIIIIIID

Okay so YES this finale was great, though definitely not as good as the first two. I forgot how much this world and Jude—I originally said these characters but like. it’s mostly Jude—lived in my mind rent free.

When Taryn returns to the human world after an incident with Locke, Jude is thrown back into the world of faerie. Caught in politics between Cardan’s Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court of Teeth, she must attempt to hold herself and Taryn together against a person she never wished to see again.

This is a third book so it’s a bit awkward to describe every significant detail that resonated with me. If you came here for a roundup of my thoughts on character, plot, etc, next section. And if you have read the first two books, and just came here to remind yourself what the hell happened last book, go with the last section.

Aspects I Enjoyed
Okay there was actually a lot I enjoyed about this novel.

If I continue the way I am, will I become like Madoc? Or will I break?
Jude is… okay, I cannot even explain how interesting Jude is as a lead. Jude is so cold and so ruthless in comparison to a lot of YA heroines I have seen in this era of literature. Her emotions come through in small moments, which makes it all the more satisfying to see her grow. Her power plays never stop being neat to me. I love this ambitious bitch so much.

There is no banquet too abundant for a starving man.
Okay, just to be totally real, I disliked this character a lot during the first book. But I think I like this character’s arc. Cardan started off as such a frustrating character, but I enjoyed the slow growth of his character arc.

And I strangely enough enjoy this romance. When he tells Jude, “Unlike Locke, I never thought love was a game. You may accuse me of much but not that” the Implications..... I enjoyed Jude’s speech about how she and Cardan get each other because they both feel shame about heir tragic backstories and have covered it up by not having feelings.

I often really struggle with this trope—the asshole love interest thing was very much not conceptualized with gay women in mind—but I think what I enjoy about this dynamic is that Jude is the one in control. In a lot of ways, The Cruel Prince is a story about power, and Cardan, who initially and by appearance has most of the power, is often rendered powerless by the narrative. That is what I find so interesting and compelling about this romance.

“It really is a magical word: no. You say whatever bullshit you want, and I just say no.”
Taryn’s character development in this novel made her… dare I say it? Interesting. Much as I know she’s disliked quite a bit, and I understand why on a personal level, Holly Black has built this character into a complex and dynamic one. Taryn has a legitimately satisfying arc that allows her to grow and change without being either easily forgiven or easily dismissed. Her actions in this book are, dare I say it, fascinating.

“It’s ridiculous the way everyone acts like killing a king is going to make someone better at being one. Imagine if, in the mortal world, a lawyer passed the bar by killing another lawyer.”
Vivi, Jude’s oldest sister, felt really well-fleshed out during this book. Her arc with Heather gets resolved in an interesting way and I frankly just felt good about this.

The Vibes
OOH okay there were a few aspects of this book I wanted to draw attention to. First of all, Black is incredibly good at writing scenes that are just a little bit off. Not horror, exactly, but something close to it. The visceral horror of the dream scene was especially memorable here; a certain scene with Taryn also lives in my head a bit.

A few scenes, including

Aspects I Disliked
Hm... okay. I wanted more from Jude in this book. I thought her decisions were at times mediocre to bad, which is frustrating, because one of her defining character traits is that she's a great schemer. I liked that a lot of the areas where she fails were challenging distinct character traits, but I wanted a bit more of her succeeding as well.

The much much bigger issue is that this book feels like it lacks the meat of books one and two. I honestly suspect that Queen of Nothing was just too short to truly convey the level of intrigue and drama that I've been enjoying for the rest of the series. So... I missed that.

I guess I also felt most of the emotional directions of this book were a bit more predictable, which isn't a bad thing in terms of wider series plot, but definitely impacted my personal enjoyment of this one. Maybe I should simply admit that I am doomed to never enjoy series finales nearly as much as the rest of the series. (No, truly. I always like the middle book best in trilogies, and I don't agree that middle book syndrome exists, and this is a hill I will die on.)

Overall though, please do not be fooled. This was good. I enjoyed reading this.

Spoilery Summaries
In The Cruel Prince:

In the Wicked King:

IN CONCLUSION: I really enjoyed this book, though as a single entity I did not enjoy it quite as much, and I am excited to have finally finished this series. Now on to more Holly Black. Probably.

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