1. Wicked Lovely
2. Ink Exchange
3. Fragile Eternity
4. Radiant Shadows
5. Darkest Mercy
We've all heard the warning: "Never judge a book by it's cover". I disagree. I think you can tell a lot about something based upon the packaging. Certainly when it comes to books! (I was wrong once, and that was with The Time Traveller's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. The cover made me yawn but the book was awesome!) I'm a sucker for a sexy cover and an intriguing title. So Wicked Lovely was always going to make it onto my reading list!
I won't go through all of the books individually. Instead, I'll try to review the series as a whole and that way you might just want to go out and invest in the whole bunch. You should.
The story is a 21st century fairytale, which revolves around several protagonists. Each of the books had a different focus and, at first, this put me off. After reading Wicked Lovely, and loving the central character, Aislinn, I was disappointed when I found out that she would barely feature in the second book. My disappointment lasted about three minutes. Marr manages to make every character as deep and detailed as the next. Their rounded development makes them come to life on the page and I found myself honestly empathizing with mortals, fairies, rowen-men, ice queens and dark kings alike. As the books develop, you not only feel for the "innocents" of the tale, but also for those who you might have first judged to be antagonists. The fairy regents in the books are mostly manipulative, conniving creatures and at first you really want to hate them. But you just can't. It's hard to hate when you are given such intimate insight into their thoughts, feelings and desires. Marr, far lack of a better word, "humanizes" even those who seem to be demons at first glance.
My favourite aspect of the books was the strange dynamic of love and desire between four of the central characters. Aislinn begins the series as a mortal girl who has the ability to see invisible fairies, and she is in love with her best friend, Seth. As a reader you want them to become more than friends, but then along comes Keenan, the Summer King. Upon him is a curse which means he has to find his queen in order for his court to become as strong as it could be. Keenan is beautiful, enticing, mysterious and a master of manipulation. His seduction of Aislinn leaves the reader breathless. You feel like a traitor for wanting Aislinn to succumb to his advances and this reflects Aislinn's own sense of confused desire and betrayal as she battles with feelings for Keenan, which are part of her nature, and her feelings for Seth, which rule her heart.
It would be easy to dislike Keenan for what he puts her through, but he's battling his own demons. In order to be a strong regent, he must find his queen. However, as he tries to find and entice her, he has to cast aside his feelings for the woman he truly loves, Donia.
The Aislinn/Seth dynamic was the most interesting to me, so again it was almost disappointing that it takes all five books for them to finally become all that they could be. However, it does allow you to get drawn in to the characters' sense of anticipation, desire and fear. Their love might be predictable, but its depth is also reassuring. It's the sort of love which everyone wants and I loved the way that Marr emphasises how complicated real-life love is. There are no easy rides. Marr uses a fantastical world to make the romance even more realistic than the type you can often see in fiction, whether it be for young adults or not. To me, this demonstrates Marr's respect for her audience, a willingness to let them know that romance isn't always sunshine and roses.
I don't want to give too much away so I'll leave it there. The BEST way to explore the magic of these books is to go out, right now, and buy them. I invested in the audiobooks of the last two texts as I'm a busy woman and having the magic of Melissa Marr's beautifully written worlds and characters in my head made going about the everyday business of being so much nicer!
You can find out more, including all of the books' accolades, great video trailers and nifty music at the website:
[Woop! My first official Book Review Monday is done, covering (briefly) five books for the price of one. Hope you liked and that you go out and buy, or loan from library.]