Black’s latest novel follows a mortal raised in the land of immortal magic. As a human kidnapped to live in the world of Faerie, Jude feels powerless. Between her mortality and lack of magical ability, she faces a grave disadvantage in earning power and prestige. Prince Cardan and his ruthless friends make her life miserable, but she refuses to give them the satisfaction of her surrender. With the High King stepping down from his thrown, opportunities for gaining power abound. All Jude has to do is seize hers.
The world building in this novel is extraordinary. Black masterfully weaves the details of the world throughout the narrative, allowing the reader to discern how the setting and magic system work without stuffing details into any one section. The magic system is very interesting in the sense that it seems fairly simple. It is most often used to force humans into a hypnotic state, make objects look like something else, or travel back and forth between Faerie and the human world. I appreciate that though magic is naturally part of this world, and certainly an important one, its uses and implications don’t dominate the story. Although magic is an advantage, Black presents as a tool throughout as opposed to a deciding factor.
In addition to this, the twists at the end are magnificent, and I think that the overall plot is compelling. However, the beginning of the book lacked momentum. Although Black succeeds in introducing the reader to the world and characters, it isn’t until the middle of the book that the action begins to pick up enough to engage the reader. I would have preferred for her to establish Jude’s weakness and ambition quicker so that less time could have been spent on Jude’s initial misery.
I believe part of the reason the beginning seemed slow is that the characters were a bit difficult to be invested in since they all seemed unlikable. This probably depends on the type of character the reader prefers, and to be fair I don’t like characters that all seem to lack any semblance of goodness or nobility. However, regardless of taste in character, by the end the reader understands the characters well enough to be quite invested in their futures, and they are all very well rounded characters, even at the beginning.
Even though the beginning lacks some momentum, this is definitely a novel worth picking up, especially for those who appreciate darker characters.