I actually am ping-ponging between this book and the previous book for favorites, because I thought both were really solid in terms of continuation to The Cruel Prince. But I’m rating The Queen of Nothing as my favorite because of all the things it did, it made me cry. And have heart palpitations. And want to protect Cardan at all costs. And made me cry some more. So yeah. This is definitely one way to end the trilogy.
WARNING: This is the third and final book in the trilogy, so expect a lot of spoilers galore! I cannot promise being spoiler-free about the book either, considering there are so many lovely quotes I want to use!
THE QUEEN OF NOTHING
by Holly Black
Little, Brown, November 2019
YA fantasy, romance
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to. Jude learned that 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 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 terrible curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity….
The Queen of Nothing definitely took me through quite a lot of ups and downs. A LOT of ups and downs.
I’d definitely gone about reading it soon after The Wicked King, and that says a lot about my state of mind, considering it usually takes me two to three books later before I continue with a sequel. As I read, I began marking up the surprises and the quotable quotes. I started scribbling on my stickies (mostly little notes such as “STOP BEING DUMB JUDE”…which seems to have been written quite a few times throughout the book…) I started getting excited over the events that began to unfold. I practically went from “I don’t know about Cardan…I think he’s a jerk…boy he gets on my nerves…” in The Cruel Prince to “I kind of love Cardan…WHAT DID HE DO…OMG I hate him now…but wait…was that…?” in The Wicked King to “WE MUST PROTECT HIM AT ALL COSTS HOW DARE ANYONE SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT MY BOI CARDAN GREENBRIAR!” in The Queen of Nothing. I don’t think I’ve ever blown so hot and cold and molten lava hot for a baddie before. (Is he a baddie, though? I’m not sure that term really falls under his jurisdiction, to be honest.)
In any case, I’m not sure I can truly put my words about what I felt going through TQoN coherently enough. Let’s just say I cried a lot. I haven’t cried that much since, oh, Our Violent Ends, which I’d read sometime in the beginning of the year. That’s also saying something.
So instead of my usual blabbering, I’ll break down my squee-ing in a list! I love lists!
Things that made my heart go ba-dump in The Queen of Nothing (SPOILERS AHEAD):
- Taryn’s shocker of a shocking news.
- The idea that Jude is headed back into Elfhame in the guise of her sister but OMG IS CARDAN GOING TO RECOGNIZE HER IMMEDIATELY?
- The fact that Cardan doesn’t miss a beat.
- That even Jude’s dream!Cardan is very sassy and so in love with Jude.
- That the friggin’ High King of Elfhame is not above trying a daring rescue of his loved one. From the hands of a most dangerous foe. Even though he’s shite at fights. But the knife-wife gotta be protected!
- Grima fucking Mog.
- “Do not touch her” and “She is my wife” lives rent-free in my head forever.
- The fact that Cardan wrote Jude letters. Letters. My copy of the book sadly does not have these, but I looked them up. THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY PRECIOUS.
- “To traitors and oathbreakers, I offer my queen’s hospitality instead. The hospitality of knives.” I AM SO SHOOK.
- The “we have lived in our armor for so long” scene, and COME ON, if that was not an homage to Bardugo and Kanej, then I am totally reading too deeply into it. But I don’t care. It’s still a beautiful interaction in any case.
- The fact that Cardan rips off that bandaid and actually tells Jude how he feels. And then walks off without her getting a word in. Classic.
- Just Cardan doing Cardan things. With the crown. And the curse. And WHAT WAS HAPPENING.
- “Only tell me the way, and I will do it, no matter the danger, no matter the hardship, no matter the cost.” Lord. This was a heavy scene, and my heart broke again just quoting it. This definitely sent me to tears several times.
- “I knew little else, but I always knew you.” <– FUCKING SAY THAT AGAIN, PLS.
Yeah. What bums me out is that I was then later made aware that there was extra writing in both The Wicked King (“deleted scenes”) and the letters in The Queen of Nothing. Thanks to one of my students, though, she linked me to Bookish Owlette’s post that compiled Cardan’s letters. They’re beautiful and made me love Cardan even more, if that’s even a possibility at this point.
5 out of 5 cookies! And now I’m prepared to make every fairy bargain just to get Cardan’s POV in anything at this rate.