Note: You'll probably see me reading more YA books in the coming months because my granddaughter has read all of Harry Potter and I am looking for more books to pass along to her.
I picked up Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and three of its sequels at a library book sale. I figured I would simply read the first and, if I enjoyed it, I could read the rest or, if I didn’t, I would simply donate them back to the public library for sale. I didn’t realize at the time that I didn’t have the second book in the series but figured that out when I got home. Oops. I’ll bet the second book was somewhere at the book sale and I overlooked it.
One of the reasons I decided to take the plunge into this series is that it has fairies and my daughter-in-law loves fairies. I figured, if I liked the books well enough, I could pass them along to her. But I also knew I was going into the first book with some prejudice. After all, I still cannot get over how many people have no issue with the abusive relationship between Bella and Edward in Twlight. So a part of me hoped I would like this first book and a part of me was ready to hate it.
I actually like it. I don’t love it but it stands up far better than I expected. Okay, so maybe my expectations were pretty low. After all, this is a supernatural romance and I am not especially fond of romance novels. But the premise is intriguing. Aislinn, called Ash by her friends, can see fairies, a trait she has inherited from her mother and her grandmother before her. Her mother passed away in childbirth and her grandmother has taught her a few simple rules.
Rule #3: Don’t stare at invisible fairies.Rule #2: Don’t speak to invisible fairies.Rule #1: Don’t ever attract their attention.
But when Ash attracts the attention of the Summer King, a royal among the fairies, the rules no longer hold up. She is pursued by him even as she tries to hold onto her normal life, including in particular her best friend, Seth.
Marr has created an intriguing world and the four main characters—Ash, Seth, Keenan, and Donia—are compelling enough to keep the reader engaged. The Winter Queen is supposed to be the major threat of the novel but she seemed mostly trite and almost cliché. I feel like her back story might have made her something more but, as it was, I just didn’t see her as a considerable threat because the reader is never really shown what she can do. More camp than substance, I suppose.
I could have loved this book because Ash isn’t putting her entire life on hold in hopes of attracting the boy. She doesn’t change herself to be more appealing. She is who she is. And Seth, although he is described as looking like your stereotypical “bad boy” is a good friend who cares about her very much.
Where Marr nearly lost me is in Keenan. He starts stalking Ash, which is precisely how she describes it. In spite of this, she allows herself to go out on a date with him. Ugh. No. This is not a message young readers should carry with them. Absolutely not. Anyone who is stalking should not be encouraged in any way.
I almost gave up on the book at that point but I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t. I wish the author could have found another way to move the story forward or had not made Keenan stalk Ash at all. I feel that Donia could have been used as an impetus or even the Winter Queen, perhaps making the latter more frightening and solidifying the idea that she and she alone was the real threat to Ash.
That said, I liked how the book ended, that although much of what Ash experiences is beyond her control she manages to take back some of her own. I also liked that the girls in the novel who are also friends to Ash are sexually active and comfortable with their sexuality. Ash is a bit too hung up on “protecting” her virginity for my taste but I can see why the author does this. And at least Ash is unashamed of her sexual attraction. She doesn’t resist temptation for the sake of some ideal; she does so because the temptation comes in the form of something she’s been warned against her entire life.
Will I continue reading the series? Yes. I put in a request for the second book in the series which, thankfully, is available through my local public library. I’m hoping that the four main characters are further developed and that we get more of a back story. There’s clearly potential for more back story as allusions to connections are made in the first book. And perhaps the Winter Queen will be fleshed out some more? I would like to solidify in my own mind what, exactly, makes her such a threat and not just a two-dimensional Disney-style villain.
So four out of five stars. Very good. Not quite excellent but I’ll be passing this book onto my daughter-in-law and not donating it back to the public library book sale.