This book was better than I thought it would be. It was more fairy tale-like than I had expected, and I quite enjoyed that. It also gave a lot of insight into Cardan as a character. I know there has been some debate about whether or not Cardan is toxic or a bad example for teen girls to be reading–and falling in love with.
I can understand where that comes from, especially since we don’t see into his perspective very much or at all. However, I think this book does a great job showing how Cardan and Jude compliment each other. Cardan is happy to let Jude continue to be a powerful and terrifying force. He doesn’t want or need to be the hero and Jude desperately needs it.
I’ve always been drawn to Jude because I want more female knights in stories. I want girls who are unapologetically fierce, cut throat, but also desire love. Jude as a character fulfills that and I think we have to ask ourselves, what kind of person would that girl be with? And I think Black asked that question too when she wrote this trilogy.
Some of my favorite books are about fierce female leads who fall in love with a quiet, loving, and underrated boy (Enna Burning and Hunger Games are two examples). Cardan and Jude, in their own ways, are both villains and heroes who fell in love with each other. They both blur the line between villain and hero, and that is so engaging.
This book shows that Cardan didn’t really choose to be a villain at first. He wanted to be loved and so he found ways to be necessary so he wasn’t killed. He found ways to be valued. And he decided if being a villain meant he got to enjoy his life for a short while, then it was worth it.
He’s drawn to the way that Jude isn’t cowed or how she doesn’t bend to the place she’s put into. She rebels against it in a way he doesn’t. This book did a great job in showing us the origin of Cardan and his own fragile heart. Stories are working to show the humanity of villains like in Infinity War and I think that this book does a great job of showing how Cardan as a villain was made from a boy who wanted to be loved.
This book reminded me of an old Disney princess movie or a great fairy tale, and Black did a great job creating a whimsical fairy tale in this book.
I personally would have liked more interactions between him and Jude, but I’ll live.