I'm "Always Winter--
Never Christmas." They call us
Luckily, I knew the ending going into it; or well, I had a very rough idea. Marr has a Gender Studies background, which I invested some trust in, & it eventually pays off, but it was a road to get there. See, I don't like "strong female characters" that are martyrs, that suffer stoically. Remember how I liked That Pretty Pretty? Well, here is the trick: in the end, the ultimate moral of Wicked Lovely? The main character steps up to the plate. She achieves agency. Which probably works from a faerie tale stand point, having the thrust of the story be the message, but made the actual reading of the book a little teeth-grinding. Not much though. So here is the run down: Aislinn sees faeries. Not, you know, cherubic butterfly faeries; she see satyrs & monsters & goblins & trouble. She has to buckle down & pretend like she doesn't, lest they realize she can see them & decide to play with her. This situation spins into a pair of romances: Aislinn plus the mortal Seth & Aislinn plus the monarch Keenan. Except, well, Keenan-- the Summer King-- is kind of a creepy stalker plying her with roofies & his natural seductive aura. A classy dude! Again-- by the end, his character has turned a pretty sharp corner, but for a long while he's...well, if a guy ever acts like that, especially after you say "no," you should call the police. I'd've liked there to be a dialogue about that "I'd call the police, but what could they do against a faerie?" or something.
The real stand-out is Seth, actually. The whole book has a kind of post-goth outsider vibe to it-- I guess "Urban Fantasy" tends to-- which I'm okay with, of course. Seth is the same, pierced all over & living in (converted, not shady) train cars, black velvet curtains in his bedroom, that kind of thing. Here is the thing that sells Seth: he's an actual character, with his own motivations & wants. I didn't like Po in Graceling if you recall; he was too goody-two-shoes of a boyfriend. Passive & little more than a paper silhouette. Seth, though, acts the same way, ish. He waits, he doesn't push, he takes things on her terms. He's magical super awesome boyfriend, who has been holding himself celibate for seven months waiting for the girl to notice that they aren't just best friends. He's got his STD tests ready to show her just in case things get intimate. The thing is: he's choosing to do it. You don't get the impression Seth is just water flowing to the lowest point, a feather in the wind. No, he clearly wants to make out with her, he wants to have sex with her; he's just willing to do it right. He's playing the long game. Seth is great. Jenny made fun of me, of course. "Oh, you like the guy who just decides to be the excellent boyfriend? You like that guy?" Since well; that is what I did!
Stylistically, I really liked the use of quotes from folklore/occult books in front of each chapter. They are appropriate, well chosen, engaging, & neat-- with the side benefit of making sure you the reader know that Melissa Marr has done her homework. I couldn't stop wondering just how much of Changeling: The Dreaming & Changeling: the Lost is in here; I can't help but think a whole dang lot, but also find myself thinking that some of the parallels may be entirely accidental. Funny, how that works. The other bit of the book I liked was the set-up for the sequels. She drops hints about the "Dark Court" & the "High Court" without being obnoxious, but enough to make me curious about the next book, about Irial (or whatever his name is) & the rest of the cosmology. So as far as craft goes, I'm in. & now that I have seen her stick her landing, feminism wise, I'm willing to let out more rope for the next one without being such a high-maintenance reader.