The Folk of the Air Series by Holly Black

by - September 17, 2020

Of course, I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.


I want to start off by saying this series is problematic. When someone taps you on the shoulder and says this book has an "enemies to lovers" trope, they are not lying. Jude and Cardan do not like each other when we first meet them. He is her enemy and essentially our enemy. Well, that is until The Wicked King and then I start becoming problematic. You see, I love these characters and I am forever grateful for their sinful relationship because this is the series that did it. This was the series that broke me out of a five-year reading slump (life slump?) and who knew?

Holly Black is a new author for me despite being on my shelf for the past few years. The Cruel Prince sat on my shelf ever since I read about the tail and laughed this book away. And then hysteria over the final book hit the internet and I finally continued reading. 

The only thing you should know about this series is the fact that it's driven by the force and determination of Jude Duarte. I know she went on a slight downward spiral as the series continued but at her best, she was everything. She embodied the type of heroine I want to read about. Her tenacity and inability to back down allowed her to outwit many of her enemies (lovers? family?).

Her relationship with Madoc was the second force of this book. All I could think of as I read their chapters together was how impossible it seemed. This unfathomable life-altering event shaped the lives of Jude and her sisters and yet here they were. They sat across from a man of great respect but also one that has broken all their hearts simultaneously in one night. I loved their dynamic, especially when the two characters turned on one another. It was like watching the master become a mere shadow of himself by the one person he thought would never have the guts. A human. 

Ah, it was spectacular.

That is until the final book was in my hands. The simple size of this book already told me that this would be a rushed job. So much could have been done here but instead, we're giving up that easily? I must admit, most of The Queen of Nothing is already a faded memory. It needed more, especially from characters like Madoc and Jude. It needed better character arcs and I don't know, "oomf?"

While I feel like the final book was the weakest of them all, I definitely think the imagination of Holly Black's world is worth the read. Her fae world was so rich of creatures and legends, without leaving any of the cruelty behind. Most fae-inspired novels tend to tame down their fantasy elements, opting to describe their characters as endlessly beautiful and dangerous if tempted. Holly's faeries were nothing of the sort. They were cruel in both beauty and life. Their games were life-threatening and their level of cruelty only gets worse. Be prepared.

The Cruel Prince: 4/5 stars.
The Wicked King: 4/5 stars.
The Queen of Nothing: 3/5 stars.

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