When Jude and Taryn were children, a strange man showed up at their home, claimed their mother was his wife and their older sister Vivienne was his daughter. For the betrayal, the man murdered their parents and took them away to his home: the High Court of Faerie.
As daughters of the High King’s top general, Jude and Taryn have been raised very well as part of the gentry, despite their mortal status. This means that while they wear the best clothes, enjoy an education, and are trained by the General, they are reviled by their classmates of the fae. Taryn does her best to fit in and avoids ruffling feathers, but Jude is more resentful. Particularly toward the cruelest of their bullies, Cardan, the youngest of the High King’s heirs. Jude loves the world of the Fae and wants to belong. She is an incredible fighter and longs to join the Knighthood of the court, but her father doesn’t believe her capable of the bloodshed. So when an unexpected opportunity arises to become a spy for Prince Dane, Cardan’s older brother and expected heir to the throne, she agrees. Her unique mortal ability to lie is the perfect tool to infiltrate the court. But it isn’t long before Jude is in way over her head. Dane’s demands are intense, Cardan’s hatred of her continues to grow, and the machinations of the fae court are darkly complicated. For every secret she uncovers, Jude will discover a betrayal. Betrayals that link closer and closer to home.
I don’t read a lot of fae novels, in fact I think the only other ones I have read are Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. The fae in this are certainly familiar to these other two stories: ruthless, toxic, manipulative, and breathtakingly beautiful. Reading the descriptions of the settings and fashion made me want to design the costumes, they are so delightful to imagine. Someone cosplayed as Jude at BookCon this past weekend! Black’s rich description is probably what helps keep the reader hooked to a story about people who treat each other terribly. No one in the book is faultless, everyone has their own self-serving agenda, and it doesn’t seem like it can end well for anyone. The political intrigue is mostly easy to follow (not a thing I find easy in most fantasy) and the book has some good twists. Its beauty is balanced out by the violence. Toxic masculinity is as bad a problem in the Court of the Fae as it is here (maybe worse? don’t fall for a faerie man). I was definitely sucked in, and eagerly await my hold on book two in the series.
I read the audio, and it is mostly good! Randomly only one of the faeries has an accent. But emotionally, it is narrated very well.