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Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely

August 24, 2009

99. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (2007)
Wicked Lovely, Book 1

Read By: Alyssa Bresnahan
Length: 10h 12m (352 pages)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Started: 07 August 2009
Finished: 17 August 2009

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Bart told me to.

Why can’t the hot guys
who want to seduce you just
for once be human?

Summary: Don’t look at fairies, don’t react to fairies, and above all else, don’t let the fairies know you can see them. Those are the rules that Aislinn (pronounced Ashling) has lived with her whole life, and for the most part, they’ve kept her as safe as could be expected. However, none of the usual rules seem to apply when one of the fey begins following her around, showing up at her school, and using all of his wiles to charm her. But, then again, he’s not your usual fairy; he’s Keenan, the Summer King. His mother, the Winter Queen, has bound his magic and is slowly taking more and more power for herself, and the only way Keenan can make things right is to find a mortal girl who can take up his mother’s staff without being permanently infected by winter’s chill. Keenan has been looking for this woman – his love, his Queen – for centuries, and is convinced that Aislinn will be the one. But Ash can see through his glamors… and she wants nothing to do with him.

Review: I will make a confession: I absolutely judged this book by its cover, (and by the fact that it’s on a table at the local bookstore with Twilight and a bunch of other similarly-covered books), and I was fully expecting it to be completely silly, and probably also rage-inducing. But, well, holy cow, I was in for a surprise… this book was really, really good.

For starters, I was shocked to discover that I empathized not only with the girl who has to deal with the supernatural (and supernaturally hot) guy, but also with the guy himself. In fact, this book has no shortage of sympathetic characters – not only Ash and Keenan, but also Seth, Ash’s mortal friend and romantic interest, and especially Donia, the Wintergirl. She’s the previous girl to undergo the trial, out of love for Keenan, but now she’s so infected with cold that it hurts to touch him, and she’s forced not only to work for the Winter Queen, but also to watch the man she still loves court another. She’s got the toughest choices of anyone in the novel, and chapters from her point of view were correspondingly the most interesting.

I was also really impressed by the worldbuilding and mythology that Marr packs into this book. The whole Winter Queen/Summer King/Winter Girl dynamic is complex enough to be interesting, and yet Marr does a much better job of explaining how the entire process works than I could manage. Marr also makes conspicuous use of a lot of traditional fairy lore, and yet builds an intricate world of three Fae courts (Summer, Winter, and Dark, although we don’t see much of the last one in this book) that manages to feel original, and just dark and dangerous enough. I did read this book a little too close in time to Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith, and so Summer and Winter and their respective personifications got a little tangled in my brain occasionally, but for the most part, Marr does such a good job creating her world that it really does seem like there might be Fae everywhere, out of sight to normal mortals.

While on the whole I enjoyed this book, there were a few elements that I wasn’t crazy about. The first was that after a certain point in the story, certain elements of the outcome became almost inevitable. Not to say there weren’t still some surprises to come, but once it became clear to the readers and the characters that these things were inevitable, a lot of the fight went out of the story, making what had come so far feel somewhat pointless, and leaving a slightly off taste in my mouth.

Secondly, there was one particular point on which I wanted to smack Ash around for a little while. On the whole, she was a very relatable narrator, having normal teenage girl insecurities, but also possessing two things that certain other of her literary compatriots (*cough*BELLA*cough*) lack… namely, a brain, and a spine. Most of the time, anyways. On one occasion, though… well, seriously, I cannot see fairies. I have not spent my entire life distrusting and fearing fairies. AND YET, even *I* know that YOU DO NOT DRINK THE FAERIE WINE. I mean, my GOD, girl! Gah.

Alyssa Bresnahan does a nice job with the audiobook narration – distinguishable voices for all of the main characters, not too fake-growly for the boys, and able to capture the emotions of Ash and Donya particularly well. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It looks like your typical teen girl/paranormal guy overwrought young adult fantasy romance, but it actually manages to take that genre in some very unexpected, very cool directions. Fans of YA fantasy, and probably fans of regular romance too, should definitely check this one out.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Melissa Marr’s website (caution: video with sound plays automatically)

Other Reviews: About Books, And Another Book Read, Another Great Read, Becky’s Book Reviews, Beth Fish Reads, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell, The Book Muncher, The Book Smugglers, The Book Zombie, Books Ahoy!, Books and Needlepoint, The Children’s Literature Book Club, Darque Reviews, Dear Author, Devourer of Books, The Discriminating Fangirl, Em’s Bookshelf, The Family with Three Last Names, Find the Time to Read, Gimmie More Books, I Heart Monster, Ink and Paper, Inside the Mind, It’s All About Me (Time), Juciliciousss Reviews, Karin’s Book Nook, KD’s Library, Liv’s Book Reviews, Lurv a la Mode, Medieval Bookworm, Melissa’s Bookshelf, My Favorite Author, Nineseveneight, The Page Flipper, Persnickety Snark, Read This Book!, Reading Rocks, Reality Bites… Fiction Does it Better, Stella Matutina, Stephanie’s Confessions of a Bookaholic, A Striped Armchair, Teen Book Review, Things Mean a Lot, Tiny Little Reading Room, Unmainstream Mom Reads, Wands and Worlds, Word for Teens, The Written World
Wow, I’m apparently behind the times. Have you reviewed this book too? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The Summer King knelt before her.

Cover Thoughts: Decidedly meh. I like the title treatment a lot, but there have been SO MANY black-and-saturated-single-color covers for teen fantasy romance novels that it’s getting really hard even to tell one series from another anymore. Plus the two-cupped-hands-holding-an-object motif is hardly subtle, even if the frost is a nice touch. PLUS it’s another half-headless girl. I think it would have been better with just the single frost-cracked flower, or maybe a whole bouquet of them.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2009 12:35 am

    You know, I didn’t really ever even think to compare this with Twilight, possibly because there is so much more skill in this book, but you’re right. I wish every girl alive was reading this instead, I must say.

    • August 24, 2009 8:47 am

      Jen – There’s so many Twilight-similar books that I wish girls were reading instead, but alas…

  2. August 24, 2009 7:06 am

    All the Twilight comparisons made me wonder if I even wanted to read this series for a long while, but I’m so glad that in the end I did. Ash does have brains and a spine, and I loved her for it. And wasn’t her grandmother awesome?

    • August 24, 2009 8:48 am

      Nymeth – The fact that it looked SO similar to Twilight made me dismiss it without a second thought for a good long while; I’m glad Bart practically ordered me to read it. :)

  3. August 24, 2009 8:06 am

    I’ve got Fragile Eternity in my TBR pile, and I’m wondering if I should read this one and Ink Exchange first.

    • August 24, 2009 8:50 am

      bermudaonion – I haven’t read them yet, obviously, but it’s my understanding that Fragile Eternity is a direct sequel to Wicked Lovely, while Ink Exchange is set in the same universe but with different characters. So… I’d definitely read at least this one first, yes.

  4. August 24, 2009 11:54 am

    Two agreements:
    I’m so glad someone else has noticed the fake-growliness! Oh, I hate it, and that’s a good term for it. Those audiobooks usually go straight back to the library. I’m also fond of Alyssa Bresnahan’s readings.
    I thought excatly the same thing when I saw the cover of this book, and when I read the blurb it looked like such a complete rip-off of Tithe by Holly Black (one of my favorites) I was offended for her, and muttered something about greedy imagination-devoid publishers, and put it back on the shelf. Thanks for your review. I’ll give it a second chance now.

    • August 24, 2009 12:42 pm

      Trapunto – I’ve read Tithe, although it’s been long enough that I don’t really remember a whole lot about it. While there are some obvious similarities – the structure of the fae courts, for one thing – I think the stories go in enough different directions to each be their own entities.

  5. August 24, 2009 8:09 pm

    Another book review I didn’t want to read too much into (but I loved you Haiku, as usual) because I’ve got a copy sitting on my tbr pile to read too. You totally hit the nail on the head when you said you judged the book by its cover. I haven’t really gotten around to reading this yet because I was wary of another Twilight-ish story. But, thanks to the first lines of your review, I’m going to go take another look…

  6. August 24, 2009 11:50 pm

    I love this book. :) And the whole series.

  7. August 25, 2009 3:45 pm

    I really liked this book. Glad to see you did, too!

  8. August 26, 2009 6:55 am

    I loved this book. My take on this book was that it was more of modern-day fairy tale and surprise or unpredictable story line was not the point at all. Can’t wait to get to the other books.

  9. August 27, 2009 1:26 pm

    I really enjoyed this book and I’m so glad that you did, too, even if you had a couple of issues with it. I am definitely in on wishing girls preferred well-written books like this with great heroines to Twilight, but there is only so much we can do. I also really liked Ink Exchange and I’m very much looking forward to Fragile Eternity!

  10. September 2, 2009 2:07 pm

    Thanks for liking to me :)
    nice review

  11. May 24, 2010 4:57 am

    when i read the first book I liked it a bit and bought the other two (unfortunately). I didn’t like them. What did I not like?

    1) The love between the boys and the girl is too artificial. I didn’t feel or believe it.

    2) There isn’t enough description for characters, places etc. so you can’t attach yourself to the story truly. In my opinion a book should make you feel the place and feelings or whatever it tells.

    It’s a cold story that has lots of holes in it.


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