I’ve spent the last six months reading and rereading all of Holly Blacks novels set in or around the fae world, along with Kristin, Melanie, Jane, and Alexa. I’ve LOVED following along with everyone’s posts and watching their liveshows whenever possible. I was planning on doing reread reviews on the blog throughout the readalong but got a bit lazy. I did do reviews for the Modern Faerie Tales trilogy because YIKES and because some of them were first-time reads for me. To give a general recap on other things, I really enjoyed THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST again. It’s just so lush and atmospheric. I reread THE CRUEL PRINCE, skipped THE LOST SISTERS novella because I felt like I didn’t need it, and dove back into THE WICKED KING earlier this month. It was awesome to go back and reread the Folk of the Air books because they were even better the second time, understanding what was going to happen and anticipating all of the twists!
Holly Black Event
I was SO excited to see that Holly Black, true to her Massachusetts roots, was doing an event ON her release day at one of my favorite indie bookstores. An Unlikely Story is about an hour and a half away from me and is where my sister and I went to see Sarah Dessen over the summer. I decided I would leave work on Tuesday, head to the event, and take the following day off from work. I was pretty determined to rapidly read QoN and thought it’d be a nice way to use up one of my vacation days.
When the two of them got out there, they didn’t really mention what we were all there for at all? I understand that a book tour for the final book in a trilogy means you want to avoid spoilers, but it was odd to really not mention at ALL how excited Holly might be, or what the process has been like, or how the release date got moved up… anything. It was just odd for the book itself to not be discussed in ANY way at a release day event (it was the actual release DAY! Not even just a random tour stop!).
Discussion with Cassandra Clare
Cassie said she had three questions for Holly before they’d bring the questions to the audience. They discussed how they became friends first – Cassie read an ARC of Tithe from a friend, before anyone else, and wrote to Holly to say how much she enjoyed the book. Holly was confused because basically no one had seen it yet. Cassie went to an event that Holly was working with Juliet Marillier and showed her some love (in a crowd of people who definitely didn’t know who she was yet) and they went out for coffee after. The rest is essentially history and they’ve been best friends and writing partners since.
The first question was what did Holly’s grandparents do for a living, which was an odd question to start with. She said her grandfather was a boxer and then an insurance salesman. She had some cute stories about her grandmother’s advice (only drink scotch and you won’t get sick!) and her grandfather’s early life, but none of that connected to much of anything. I’m a little fuzzy on the following two questions. I don’t remember one of them, but the other was to tell us about a piece of fiction she wrote as a kid. It was really funny: Holly was apparently into Interview with a Vampire and Lord of the Rings at the time, so she wrote a story about a dragon who was collecting and hoarding vampires that needed to be saved. Holly then asked Cassie to share hers, which was about The Beautiful Cassandra who would kill every man she kissed. The other question, I believe, had something to do with bad writing advice but the answer wasn’t suuuuper clear so I don’t know if the story she shared was actually bad advice or good advice?
I don’t remember all of the questions of course, but managed to watch some of the live Instagram story that the bookstore posted the next morning. I didn’t highlight everything but here’s the gist.
- Two part question: In light of the B&N edition having the letters from Cardan inside, is Holly planning any kind of book or novella from Cardan’s POV at some point? And, does she take inspiration from other characters in fiction at all? (This question had a lot of examples from classics because evidently Cassie enjoys them – the audience member mentioned Catherine and Heathcliff and the antagonistic relationship that Jude and Cardan have) — This was amazing because Cassie sort of answered/implied that Holly WAS working on something about Cardan by saying “Maybe you’re in a good position to answer this now,” and Holly had to give a very roundabout answer like “I guess I have an idea for something that could probably maybe be a thing” but hinted HEAVILY something Cardan-based is in the works! She also said she hates Wuthering Heights (lol).
- What was your favorite book to write? — Cassie loved Clockwork Princess because the ending was heartbreaking (a lot of this was not interesting to me since I haven’t read her books) and Chain of Gold (it was grueling writing process). Holly loves writing middle books in a series,like The Wicked King. The first book is a lot of set up and the third book is tying everything up, so middle book is about playing and making everything worse for everyone and you know them already.
- What is your writing process like? — Holly and Cassie have super different writing processes, which makes collaborating harder! Holly had a lot of great anecdotes about her process but basically said she’s been working on it forever and “evolving” to make it easier on herself. She usually will write chapters and fully rewrite them too often. She told a story about how they were all swimming in a cold pond at Cassie’s house – Holly’s husband got in the water, got cold, and left, quite frequently, before his body could get used to the cold water. She said this is basically her writing process and she needs to learn to BE uncomfortable and let herself get used to things/adjust instead of abandoning ship. Cassie writes 100-page outlines (she doesn’t consider these skeletal/zero/first drafts like other writers do) and sticks to the outline. Holly writes an outline and then essentially writes a completely different book than the outline.
- What kind of research do you do when writing? (This girl was from Maine and referenced the setting in this book) — Holly said she does research online and in-person depending on the situation. She told a funny story where she needed to know what it was like to ride in the trunk of a car (for the Curse Workers series), so she had her friend Kelly drive around and run errands with her in the trunk. It was funny because she was in a Prius and other drivers could definitely see her in there.
- Who are your favorite characters in your books or who do you relate to the most? They were also asked to share for each other’s books — Holly said she has certain favorites for each series. She loved writing Jude as the main character and certain parts of Cardan as well (it’s fun to be the worst). She likes writing Madoc to give bad old guy advice. Cassie loves Jude and Castle from Curse Workers. Cassie also now likes Maddoc (she saw some hot fan art of him and thinks he’s a snack). For Cassie’s books, Holly likes Magnus – she saw a different side of him in later books and understood him more.
- How do you write and balance world-building with the story? — Both of them shared similar advice. Don’t build the world before you build the story too rigidly. Go somewhat back and forth with the story and the world-building or magic system; you can figure out what you NEED to know to make the story make sense. Some authors write full notebooks about a world and magic but can’t fit a story into it. As you write, you’ll figure ou the currency, the mood, the kind of magic, etc. Holly’s writing something new now and trying to figure out the magic of the story to tell a specific kind of story or mood. This brought Cassie to ask about faerie bras and Holly mentioned that they may have something to suit whatever you need – no faerie push-up bras. Lol
- What was your inspiration for Taryn? — She wanted a mirror for Jude, someone who tried a different way of navigating Faerie. In this book, they both see how they’re more similar than they thought.
I was very happy to be sitting in the first few rows because this room was PACKED and it would have taken forever to get up there otherwise. I just had Queen of Nothing to get personalized and signed. I told Holly how I reread all of the books set in Faerie ahead of reading this one and she said I’d be able to let her know if i spotted continuity errors. I told her i was just excited to see characters pop up in this series from The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Modern Faerie Tales. She was happy to hear it.
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #3
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Hachette on November 19, 2019
Also by this author: My True Love Gave To Me, The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, The Modern Faerie Tales: Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside, How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories, The Stolen Heir
Format: Hardcover (300 pages) • Source: Purchased
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He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.
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 the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.
Hooooo, boy. I totally could have finished this in one sitting, if I had really tried, and THAT is saying something (for me reading a fantasy book). It was so readable and addicting, mostly because I was so eager to see how things concluded and be back with these characters. At the end of the previous book, we have Jude exiled to the mortal world while Cardan is on the throne. This book picks up a bit later but she’s still in the mortal world, living with Vivi and Oak, taking on random fae jobs to earn money. When Taryn comes to visit and needs help, Jude is brought back to Faerie for a mission.
This book straight-up killed me with the Cardan/Jude feels. There were so many perfect, five-star moments. It’s such a fascinating dynamic/relationship that Holly has written so way throughout these books. You can tell there are such strong feelings while they’ve also hated each other and enjoyed battling it out over the years. I can’t describe it. The end of book one LITERALLY took my breath away for a second. I cannot. Jude, Cardan, and basically every other damn character in this series had so much growth across all three books and this is really a wonderful end for all of them.
“It’s you I love,” he says. “I’ve 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.” He walks to the door to the royal chambers, as though to end the conversation. “You probably guessed as much,” he says. “But just in case you didn’t.”
I have to say that I VERY much enjoyed the journey of this particular book more than the destination itself (not that it was a bad ending by any means), and I don’t think it’s my “least” favorite? I think my biggest issue is that this felt kind of tame for a finale, especially compared to the other books in the series. I predicted a lot of things, shockingly, which didn’t ruin the experience, but I expected a lot more twists. I really thought there would be more battles and fights, plus there was a pretty obvious thing that needed to be done (that’s so vague but no spoilers).
Overall, this trilogy has been so damn fantastic. Holly Black’s writing has CLEARLY matured an insane amount since her earlier Faerie novels. Also, still a bit overwhelmed by the Cardan feels right now. (AND – Oak spin-off anyone? Yes or yes?!)