Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr “Aislinn’s different…she could be the one”
Aislinn can see faeries. From childhood, she was taught to pretend as if she couldn’t, as if they were invisible like all other humans see them. But things have changed. She notices two of the same faeries following her, Summer King, Keenan, and Winter Girl, Donia. Why is Aislinn attracting their attention and what does this mean to her and those she loves?

I Liked:
Lately, I’ve been on an urban fantasy craze, gobbling up books about the paranormal. I’ve been lucky so far to find some pretty new and interesting takes on what is quickly becoming a prosaic concept. And while Marr’s faery fantasy has a slow start, her story is very unique and creative.
Marr’s storybuilding and concept of faeries (I believe based somewhat on Irish and Celtic tales) is probably the strongest part of this novel. These faeries aren’t your stereotypical bright colored Disney version. These faeries are dark. They are mischievous, they are selfish, and they are ominous. As a reader, I was instantly on edge when they were around, and I completely understood Aislinn’s paranoia (constantly looking over her shoulder). I also like how Marr keeps consistency with the faerie lore, making them vulnerable to certain herbs, stale bread, and steel. I love authors willing to buck the system, but I also like it when they do research the mythology and lore.
Another aspect I admired was how well Marr made the faeries likeable. They were different, they tended to use “dirty methods”, but overall, they were beings with feelings and desires. Keenan and Donia both are locked in a brutal game, one neither wants to be in, but they have to play by the rules. Their actions come across as harsh sometimes but that is only in accordance or comparison to Aislinn’s/the reader’s.
The quotes at the beginning of the chapters were well done. They give a nice history and character to the faeries without burdening the story with unnecessary details. One of my favorite excerpts includes the story of how humans were gifted with faerie sight: a mortal woman was bathing a faerie child in faerie water and splashed some in her eye.
The absolute best character in the book is Donia, the Winter Girl. In an interview in the back of the book, Marr reveals how she liked to write Donia’s point of view, and it shows. Donia tried to take the Winter staff and break Beira the Winter Queen’s reign, only she wasn’t the “Chosen One” and instead turned into ice, forever to stay at Keenan’s side and chase away other women. Donia is great because she has a conflicted story. She is still in love with Keenan but is unable to act on her feelings because she is not the woman meant for Keenan. She hates her current position but is required to chase anyone away that might become her replacement.
I also found Keenan rather sympathetic. While he is choosing women that could end up like Donia (or like the Summer Girls), he is trying to break the reign of his evil mother, Beira. He tries to make things easier on poor Donia and really does want to get to know Aislinn better. I continuously felt bad for him as Aislinn denied his advances and his obvious attraction for her.
While not too fond of either Seth or Aislinn, I found the one thing about them I did like was their chemistry particularly in the beginning when they are dancing around each other’s feelings (later on, not so much). Man, you get these two in a room and fireworks happen. There were some really hot scenes in here that didn’t require lots and lots of sex.

I Didn’t Like:
You would hope that when reading, you would root for the protagonist or at least understand him or her. Unfortunately, I just don’t like Aislinn. Compared to Bella Swan of Twilight, she is slightly better (interested in college, doesn’t drop everything for the boy, doesn’t wimp out, remains respectful and includes her grandmother), but many of her choices come off as being selfish (and not those where she isn’t informed of all the stakes and whatnot). For instance, the biggest reason she wants the faeries to leave her alone is not because of what they might do to her, but because Grams will revoke freedoms from Aislinn. I guess that is a typical teen, but someone raised to be wary of faeries ought to have slightly more fear for her and her friends’ and family’s safety. As with Bella, I found it hard to figure out what Seth liked about Aislinn (it’s obvious what Keenan likes—he feels she’s the Summer Queen). She plays pool and is a decent debater/orator, but that is it. I don’t need a twenty page essay on Aislinn, but I would like to associate with the protagonist and feel like she could be a real person. As for her ability, I found it kinda hokey that she could observe so much faerie activity and not, until the end, let on that she could see everything.
Seth is another character that I couldn’t quite believe. He is almost too perfect and positively boring (wealthy, intelligent, super sexy, kind, endearing, does whatever he likes without any monetary or real consequences, is experienced sexually without any of the diseases that might plague such promiscuity, etc.). He takes Aislinn’s ability to see faeries way too well, immediately jumping at the opportunity to investigate them. What, no questions, no hesitation? Oh, right, that would mean conflict, and we can’t have the perfect proto-boyfriend having conflict with our protagonist. When I found out he’s been celibate for seven months waiting for Aislinn to wake up and reciprocate the feelings, I was left scratching my head. Why not come out and tell her how he felt instead of hiding it? And where is the conflict that is bound to appear from a highly promiscuous boy suddenly turning away from that lifestyle? And, again, what does Seth find so special in Aislinn that he didn’t find in previous one night stands or girlfriends?
Beira is hideously one note and stereotyped. On one hand, she reminds me of Umbrage from Harry Potter, but unlike Umbrage, Beira’s whole reason behind her actions is that she is evil and wants power. Wow, never heard that one before, eh?
Did Aislinn’s friends creep anyone else out? Firstly, none of them have any physical characteristics, much less personality and motivations. I assume Lesley is a blonde, Carla is a Latina, and Rianne is African-American, but that is mostly because of their stereotypical presentation and/or names. As for character, I guess that Carla lives closer to Aislinn and is good at calculus and Rianne is somewhat slutty and a party girl, but any of these could be wrong, based on how unclear the novel is. But by far the worst part of Aislinn’s “friends” is how they try to pair up Keenan and Aislinn. It’s pretty obvious that Aislinn isn’t interested in him and actually hates his guts. You would think they would take that as a hint that she wasn’t interested, but no. Oh, no, that just means they need to try harder. You girls call yourselves Aislinn’s friends, but you can’t tell she hates him for some reason and don’t ask why or back off? This isn’t just the “hilarious” hookup antics of high school; this is seriously creepy and insensitive.
While I love the story and conflict (Aislinn’s choice and her conflict between inevitability and her feelings to Seth), the pacing is hideously slow and winding. It starts out interesting and then devolves into a lot of meetings where people talk about what is wrong. It takes Keenan too long (in a 300 page book) to begin trying to woo Aislinn; there are too many unnecessary scenes between Seth and Aislinn showing their chemistry and having them talk about the faery problem; and I would cut several of the Beira-Keenan-Niall-Donia scenes as they get repetitive. The result was, I wanted to give up until I finally hit the part where Keenan takes Aislinn to the faire. Then and only then did things start to happen, but it’s sad you have to wait halfway through a book for things to get interesting again.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
At least two f-bombs are dropped, along with b*tch and p*ss.
Seth is said to have many frequent one night stands. Aislinn is nearly raped at one point in the park. Faeries touch people in private areas (mentioned in passing) and make salacious comments.
Faeries often engage in torture. Baeria kills a hag.

Overall:
If you can hold on past the ponderous beginning, our incomprehensible protagonist, and some creepy “friends”, there is a pretty “lovely” story to behold. Faeries made real with real feelings and not overly humanized. Interesting mythos. And a girl who could possibly save the world. What makes it even better is that this book is pretty self contained, meaning you don’t have to continue on unless you really want to see what happens next. In the beginning, I was tempted to pass on the series; now, I wouldn’t mind continuing on. 3.5 rounded generously up to 4 stars (and most of that is because of the last 1/3 – 1/2 of the story).