|cover courtesy of Wikipedia|
This book was recommended to me by more than one person as a good urban fantasy story. Since I am in the process of finishing an urban fantasy novel, I was interested in reading Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. However, I found this book to be anything but a lovely read.
Aislinn has always been able to see the faeries that cavort through Washington D.C. She sees their sport- and their crimes. But none of the faeries has ever spoken directly to her. When one named Keenan takes human form and accosts her inside her favourite comic book store, it turns out that he's the Summer King, and he wants her to join him as his queen. She rebuffs him, but he shows up at her school as an exchange student. He continues to pressure her to join him, and finally she consents to attend a local carnival with him in the hopes that he will eventually stop asking. However, he tricks her into downing a magical drink that will change her, slowly but surely, into a fey. Angry that he would force her to drop her life and her budding relationship with her friend Seth, Aisilinn is determined to foil his plans.
I have a couple of reasons that explain my dislike of this novel.
One reason lay in the way that most of the characters were skeletal stereotypes- the evil queen, the protective grandmother...Marr seemed to cherrypick her idea of teenage "cool" people to flesh out Aislinn's school friends, and the lesser faeries. Even Aislinn seems to have no personality apart from her boyfriend, her ability to see faeries, and her schoolwork. Also, every character seemed to possess unearthly beauty- even the humans. The only semblance of fleshed-out characters are Donia, Keenan's best friend who was once human, but failed the test to become the Summer Queen and is now a Winter Girl, and Seth, Aislinn's artistic best friend.
Another reason I did not enjoy this book was the way in which Keenan, the Summer King, objectifies almost every female in the story. Keenan is possessive of his best friend to the point of putting her under guard, and insists that Aislinn give up everything to become his wife. He can't understand why Aislinn won't give up her mortal life to join him. Yet Marr presents Keenan as an underdog- his father was murdered by his mother, who now keeps him under her thumb- and describes him in very positive terms, in an attempt to get her readers to like him. Marr also chooses to tell part of the story through Keenan's perspective, and because of his frankly nauseating way of looking at the world, I found him to be an infuriating character and not a sympathetic one at all.
Marr obviously did her research on faeries, as quotes from different books of folk tales head every chapter in Wicked Lovely. It's a pity she couldn't use this research to put together a more compelling story with an engaging narrator and fleshed-out characters, and refrain from resorting to stereotypes of what is "popular" and "likable."