Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
After the shocking revelation that her little brother Oak is the rightful heir to the Faerie crown, Jude has placed Cardan on the throne. She is now his seneschal and, due to a secret bargain, has the power to control his every move. As the real authority behind the throne, Jude has to navigate the politics and intrigue of Faerie. Other courts may be plotting to undermine Cardan’s rule, and the Undersea is threatening to overthrow the entire land. As it becomes clear that someone she trusts intends to betray her, Jude struggles to balance the responsibilities and dangers of managing a kingdom, her changing relationships with her family in the aftermath of her political plot, and ever-increasing and confusing feelings for Cardan. As her rule goes on, the strain begins to show, and only time will tell if a mortal can ever make it in the ever-shifting Faerie world.
The fast pace, high tension, relentless action, and constant twists and turns in this book will keep readers on their toes until the unexpected ending. Black’s world building and character development are magnificent. Jude is a fascinating and captivating protagonist, made so compelling by her gray morality and her struggle to balance her contradictory feelings. Cardan is wonderfully wicked and brutal, but as his façade begins to crack, we learn his secret: He was never truly loved, and that made him cruel. The emotional vulnerability that develops between Jude and Cardan is exquisite, as both realize that in order to trust each other, they must submit to being openly, mortifyingly known. The tremendous amount of character growth for both is astounding given the shorter length of the book, and the suspenseful cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring to know what happens in the next book.
*Contains mild language, mild sexual content, and moderate violence.