The Queen of Nothing, by Holly Black, is a young adult fantasy novel that brings mythology and folklore to a contemporary audience. It is the final novel in the Folk of Air trilogy, following The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King.
The intoxicating and bloodthirsty finale to the Folk of Air trilogy, The Queen of Nothing is another outstanding addition to the YA fantasy genre which once again raises the bar. With complex relationships, nail-biting battle scenes, and a realm of faerie politics, it’s no surprise that The Queen of Nothing was voted Goodreads Best Fantast YA 2020. Want to know more? Keep reading, we’ve got all the details.
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About The Queen of Nothing
The Queen of Nothing – Holly Black
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.
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…
The Queen of Nothing starts where we left off in The Wicked King. Jude is in the mortal world where she was exiled from the faerie. She lives with her older sister Viviene and her brother Oak, who will be the future high king despite not wanting the position. Jude gets a job to stop a faerie cannibal from eating her kind in the mortal world. She successfully beats the faerie in a duel.
When she returns home, her twin sister Taryn is there. Taryn asks a favour – her husband Locke has been murdered.
The high king Cardan has put a trial to question people for the murder. Taryn is going to be questions. If the high king uses magic to force her to tell the truth, it will be revealed that she murdered him so she comes to ask Jude to pretend to be Taryn. Despite Vivienne telling Jude it is too dangerous, Jude accepts. She wants to go back to the magic realm, and since she is not affected by magic, she will be fine.
Jude then goes to trial. Cardan had immediately figured out that it was Jude and not Taryn but he didn’t call the guards. However, suddenly Jude is taken by Jude’s foster father who came in hopes of rescuing Taryn. Jude maintains her disguise and finds out that Madoc and his armies are planning to go against Cardan and make Madoc king.
During her escape, Jude hears a scream from a cave and can’t help but investigate. In the cave is one of the court of shadow’s original members. Jude finds out that he did not betray them, Locke had his full name and therefore had full control over him. Jude helps the ghost escape so she goes back to where she meets her foster mother, who realised that it was Jude and not Taryn. Nonetheless, Oriana agrees to help.
A few days later Jude is rescued by the high king and his roach.
Jude is still wanting to save the ghost, so she goes with Cardan and the roach to retrieve the keys to his chains. They get caught in traps and the roach is hit with an unknown poison. Cardan and the roach go back to get medical aid but Jude carries on. However, when she gets there, the ghost is nowhere to be seen. Instead stood Madoc, who had also figured out Jude’s secret. They duel and it was clear that Jude was not going to win. Jude is left with a grave injury.
Taryn stitches Jude’s wounds, but it is clear that the reason Jude lives is because the land had healed her as the rightful queen of the faeries.
When she returns for the high castle, Cardan announces that Jude is the rightful queen of the faerie. Jude helps the high court with the upcoming battle with Madoc’s army and gives them all the information she has. One day Taryn calls Jude and Cardan to the Hallow hall. Surprisingly the ghost is there. His charges were not to attack Cardan, but to attack the queen of the undersea. Taryn found him and because she knew his full name, was able to stop the attack.
When Madoc’s army attacks, he is surprised that Jude is alive. Madoc’s battle is a losing one. The role of king is a choice of the people, not the archaic overthrow like Madoc is planning. Cardan then breaks the blood crown, but there is a curse on it which then caused Cardan to turn into a serpent.
Jude takes control. Eventually, she and Madoc make a truce; the court of teeth in exchange for a way to turn Cardan back before his giant snake form destroys all of elfhame.
The method to turn Cardan back turned out to be a trick from the court of teeth. In a fit of desperation, Jude cuts off his head. From the inside crawls out Cardan. In the end, Madoc, his army, and the court of teeth got their punishment.
This is a strong and exciting ending to an already exciting trilogy. Our hearts lie in the characters. The characters have a 4-dimensional feeling when we regard relationships. The characters are able to express love for each other whilst still harbouring an amount of hatred. This shocked us initially, since novels rarely write about relationships in this way but it is extremely realistic. Most people have dynamic relationships with people – all the more realistic in this high-pressure fantasy setting!
Jude has grown amazingly through the series. We knew that she would get stronger and smarter and more badass, but this book really highlighted her vulnerable side. It really makes her feel more human, despite being raised in a world of faerie.
With betrayls from the previous book being ironed out unconventionally and family ties taking a pretty hefty (and realistic) stake in decision-making, The Queen of Nothing was everything we expected and more from the final book in The Folk of Air series.
Our Rating: ★★★★★
Frequently Asked Questions
When was The Queen of Nothing released?
The Queen of Nothing was originally published in November 2019.
Does The Queen of Nothing have a series?
Yes. The Wicked King is the second book in The Folk of Air series. The series includes:
- The Cruel Prince
- The Wicked King
- The Queen of Nothing
Although, there are some sister books which are not a part of the core trilogy, but perfect for people who need a little bit more of their Holly Black fix! These are The Lost Sisters and How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories.
What is the Queen of Nothing rating?
The most popular age rating for this novel seems to be 14+. There is some violence and romance, but nothing too shocking.
Does Queen of Nothing have a happy ending?
Cardan is freed from the giant serpent and the people accept Jude as their Queen. The people of the land are at peace.
Is The Queen of Nothing a romance?
The push-and-pull relationship between Jude and Cardan finally takes off. There are a lot of emotions circling the two, but it seems like things finally worked out.