Though Holly Black's second instalment of the series - The Wicked King - was voted best Young Adult Fantasy and Adventure book of the year on Goodreads, my heart will always lie with the third one, and I consider it the best book of 2019. Perhaps it was the overwhelming suspense due to the cliff-hanger at the end of The Wicked King that left me utterly on the edge of my seat, waiting for The Queen of Nothing finally be released, and maybe it was this longing that pushed it ahead of the other two books.
Or, perhaps, it’s the complexity and relatability of the characters within The Queen of Nothing. Despite being of a world infinitely more intriguing than our own, this book is populated by intricate, yet supremely real characters. Though initially portrayed as inherently cruel and wicked, Prince Cardan Greenbriar’s character holds much more depth than he is initially given credit for, which is ultimately revealed in The Queen of Nothing. Though I always had a soft spot for Cardan throughout the series, I truly began to respect the way in which Black wrote his character and how she chose to slowly peel back the layers of his personality and past in the last book. A quote from the book best describes this, “I think of his riddle. How do people like us take off our armour? One piece at a time.”
Despite being of a world infinitely more intriguing than our own, this book is populated by intricate, yet supremely real characters.
This quote is spoken by the main character and narrator Jude Duarte, who is perhaps the main reason why I would say The Queen of Nothing is deserving of that best book of 2019 slot. Full of sharp wit and frank stubbornness, she is perhaps one of the most relatable heroines I have ever had the pleasure of going on adventures with. Despite being stuck in a world that only mocks and condemns her, Jude never lets it harden her and turn her cruel. Though haunted by both corporeal and imaginary demons from her past, she stands strong against all that try and push her down. But the thing that I respect most about her is the fact that she’s not perfect; she falls and she makes mistakes and she questions her actions, which in my opinion makes her real and human.
I was genuinely heartbroken when the book ended because it meant I had to say goodbye to characters who felt like family - characters who taught me and challenged me and who allowed me to join them on their adventure through the world of Faerie. This intoxicating and bloodthirsty finale had my heart before I could say no. So I urge you to go pick up a copy and let it capture your heart as well.