Book Review: Wicked Lovely

• Wicked Lovely •
by Melissa Marr

Teen fantasy is in desperate need of new blood, but it doesn’t appear that it will be getting some any time soon.  Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr’s first book and her official launch into the magical world of fey, is a tough-girl story set against a borrowed fantasy background.  It’s hard not to be drawn into the world of the Summer Court and the fey that populate it, but it isn’t Marr’s world.  It’s a fact that rings truer with each snippet of faery lore quoted beneath chapter headings, practically as a disclaimer.

Wicked Lovely is the story of Aislinn, a teen girl whose ability to see fey folk makes her life a constant lesson in turning the other cheek and a struggle to keep the secret of her family’s Sight under wraps.  However, the Summer King has decided that Aislinn is the one: the mortal who will become his queen.  Being the modern-day women’s-rights sort of girl that she is, Aislinn has no interest in falling for his scheme; and the battle of the Summer Queen’s succession pulls the Summer King, Aislinn and her love interest into a mess that centuries of faery lore can’t keep in check.

If Wicked Lovely sounds exciting, that’s because it very nearly is.  When not dealing with Aislinn and Seth’s are-we-or-aren’t-we dilemma, the plot is a seizure of allegiances and suspicions, conveniently skipping over faery lore that Marr has little or no interest in explaining.  In addition to keeping the book short, this relative distance from any complexity in faery life results from the fact that it isn’t Marr’s world to begin with, and she treats it as public knowledge.  Much like vampires, ghosts and witches before them, faeries have become yet another bargain bin folklore to build teen drama around.

In fact, the most interesting stories in Wicked Lovely are the subplots.  Since Aislinn’s aware that she’s humanity’s only hope for fending off eternal winter, there’s never any tension over whether she will or won’t; it merely becomes a matter of how.  The real page-turning lies in her affection for Seth (who, in spite of cringe-worthily frequent descriptions of his piercings, unorthodox lifestyle and general hotness, seems like an unnaturally decent guy).  There’s no fun to be had in Wicked Lovely’s scraps of faery lore, so we delegate the weight of the novel to its subplots.

With the book safely categorized as recycled fantasy, any sort of saving grace must be sought in Marr’s writing.  Unfortunately, the one place where it might have shone is where Wicked Lovely falls surprisingly short.  An overuse of asides — never fewer than one per page, sometimes as many as three — transforms the narrative into the jerky commentary of announcers shouting over a sporting event.

Perhaps the best thing that Wicked Lovely has going for it is the cover design, which continues on Marr’s second book, Ink Exchange.  Still, the characters are so driven that we can’t help but be driven along with them.  The writing demands skimming, and the story itself is unapologetic fanfiction of faery lore; but with a level-headed protagonist and a demanding supporting cast, Wicked Lovely is hardly the worst of the teen fiction crop.

Excerpt (pp. 9-10):


Then he walked in — wearing a glamour, hiding that glow, passing for human — visible to everyone.

That’s new.  And new wasn’t good, not where the fey were concerned.  Faeries walked past her — past everyone — daily, invisible and impossible to hear unless they willed it.  The really strong ones, those that could venture further into the city, could weave a glamour — faery manipulation — to hide in plain sight as humans.  They frightened her more than the others.

This faery was even worse: he had donned a glamour between one step and the next, becoming suddenly visible, as if revealing himself didn’t matter at all.


Rating: C


wicked lovely review melissa marr book review aydee


~ by AyDee on August 10, 2008.

2 Responses to “Book Review: Wicked Lovely”

  1. If you’re interested in what I guess is called urban fantasy, then have you tried Elizabeth Bear’s “Promethean Age” books? Their future is a bit in doubt at the moment, but I’ve read a bit of what’s out there and quite enjoyed it. Liked it more than what else I’ve read of the genre, anyway. The series becomes a bit panoramic, though; I’m not sure if that would be a pro or con for you.

  2. I haven’t heard of her. I’ll look into it. Thanks!

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