This is just the sort of faery novel I’ve been missing. Who knew I needed to be looking in the young-adult section?
Wicked Lovely is adapted from one of my favorite off-the-beaten-path fairy tales, a Scottish tale of the turning seasons. In it, the Winter Queen attempts to prolong the cold season by keeping the Summer King and his bride from marrying and coming into their full power. Melissa Marr‘s version features a Winter Queen who has diminished the Summer King’s power permanently, not just for a season. The faery world is falling into corruption, and the mortal world is suffering from the unnatural chill. The only way the Summer King can claim his rightful power is by finding his destined Summer Queen. There are a few obstacles in the way, however. The potential Queen doesn’t want him. A previous, failed claimant to the throne still carries a torch for Keenan (Donia, my favorite character in the book). And the Winter Queen will stop at nothing to keep herself in power.
As the story unfolds, both Aislinn and Donia face difficult decisions. What do you do when you have two options, and both have potentially horrible consequences? How do you do the right thing when it might mean losing everything you care about? I felt for the characters as they navigated the perils of Faery, and I admired the choices they eventually made.
Marr‘s faery world is alien, and she doesn’t fall into the trap of writing faeries as “just like humans, only prettier.” Her faeries’ customs and culture bring Emma Bull to mind. I’m not at all surprised to see, in the “special features” at the back of the book, that she lists Bull as an influence. As one of my favorite aspects of War for the Oaks was Bull’s faery-culture worldbuilding, this is a very good thing. Wicked Lovely is also similar in “feel” to Holly Black‘s faery novels.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the quotations at the beginning of each chapter. Each quote is taken from a classic work of faery lore, and explains and foreshadows the events of the chapter that follows.
I’m not sure I can finish this review without mentioning Twilight. The plots are very different, but what kept occurring to me as I read Wicked Lovely is that it would appeal to many of the young girls who love Twilight, and Marr’s book is (in my opinion) superior. Aislinn knows what she wants (it’s not just love) in a way that Bella does not. The machinations of beautiful, manipulative Keenan are presented in a negative light. And while Seth comes off as a bit idealized, he’s a genuinely decent guy who truly loves Aislinn. He doesn’t talk to her like she’s stupid. He doesn’t stalk her. If I had a daughter, I’d much rather have her dreaming of her very own Seth than dreaming of her very own Edward.
Wicked Lovely — (2007-2013) Young adult. Publisher: The clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in this cool, urban 21st century faery tale. Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible faeries. Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world, and would blind her if they knew of her Sight. Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible faeries. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer. Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention. But it’s too late. Keenan is the Summer King and has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost! Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working any more, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.