Manipulative, evil faeries make a mesmerising read
Book Review: Must Reads For Youth
The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black (15+)
Contrary to popular fairytales, in Holly Black’s mesmerising The Folk of the Air series, “faeries” are anything but kind and angelic; the fae are dangerously beautiful and unimaginably powerful. Yet, Jude Duarte, our 17-year-old protagonist, wants nothing more than to be one of them.
Jude lives in Faerieland with her twin sister, Taryn, stepsister, Vivienne, and adoptive father, Madoc. As Grand General of Elfhame under the rule of High King Eldred, Madoc raised Jude and Taryn alongside his faerie daughter, Vivienne, under shocking circumstances — this faerie warrior murdered Jude and Taryn’s parents in cold blood.
As such, familial relations are strained (much more for Jude than for Taryn), and Jude must navigate Faerieland with one primary goal in mind: survival. To accomplish this, Jude aims to become a knight under the protection of the royal family.
Having said that, she must first complete her schooling in Faerieland among the fae elite, including the arrogant Prince Cardan, who goes out of his way to make Jude’s life miserable. Both power hungry, manipulation is key in their respective quests for respect and survival in the cut-throat world of the fae. My favourite aspect of Jude’s hunt for power is the unpredictability of her actions, especially when her secrets become increasingly high-stakes.
As Jude approaches desperation for dignity, because of being looked down upon for being human, her internal conflict of whether she loves or hates her mythical home is intriguing. I enjoyed the complexity of her character. Often, Young Adult fantasy novels with romantic subplots, as seen in this series, lack substance in the female lead. However, The Folk of the Air series surely does not fall into this trap; Jude is intense and straightforward yet still clever and thoughtful.
Faerieland’s political landscape also contains significant depth; Jude pays close attention to court politics, often getting her hands dirty to achieve her aims. As the series progresses, politics becomes increasingly centre stage, especially when Jude becomes a key player in it. However, the fae are manipulative and evil by nature, so the way that Jude manages this environment is continuously captivating and unexpected.
The romantic subplot between Jude and Cardan was full of deception and betrayal, yet the small moments of genuineness and connection were well written and interesting. This enemies-to-lovers trope has been especially popular in recent years, and the sheer variety of themes in The Folk of the Air series makes it an excellent choice for young readers who want a leisurely read with engrossing world-building and twisted characters.
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