Holly Black Reflects on the End of the 'Folk of the Air'

Posted by Cybil on November 1, 2019
Holly Black
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Prolific fantasy novelist and faerie world cognoscente Holly Black is back with the final installment of her wildly popular The Folk of the Air series.

The tumultuous trilogy has pitted Jude Duarte, a mortal raised by faeries and one of Black’s most beloved protagonists, against Cardan, the treacherous prince-turned-king of the faerie kingdom Elfhame and with whom she shares a fervid love/hate bond.

Impassioned fans were left distraught by the cliffhanger ending to book two, The Wicked King, that saw Cardan betray Jude and banish her to the mortal world after making her Queen of Faerie. The Queen of Nothing delves deeper into the power struggle at the heart of the series, exploring just how far Jude will go to reclaim what’s been taken from her while testing her feelings for Cardan.

Black, the author of more than 30 books for kids and teens, including The Modern Faerie Tale series and The Curse Workers series, tells Goodreads what fans can expect from The Folk of the Air’s conclusion, the characters she most enjoyed writing, and how she’s unlikely to ever quit the supernatural realm.

Goodreads: There’s a frenzy of anticipation ahead of the final installment of The Folk of the Air—readers are extremely happy the release date got brought forward to November. What should Jude and Cardan followers be bracing themselves for with this book?

Holly Black: Well, Jude and Cardan aren’t in a good place at the end of The Wicked King. Jude’s in the mortal world, and Cardan is attempting to rule Elfhame alone for the first time. Meanwhile Madoc is gathering allies to his army. The situation is far from ideal, but that’s the third book for you.

GR: When you began the series, did you know how it was going to play out over the three books and how it would end? Did any of the characters end up surprising you?

HB: I knew a lot of things that would happen, but there were some things that surprised me. In particular, I planned something for the middle of The Queen of Nothing and wound up scrapping it in favor of a thing that seemed more thematically resonant.

GR: What do you say to fans who believe Jude and Cardan’s relationship is fundamentally a power struggle that can never end happily?

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HB: That power struggle is clearly something that attracts them to one another, but without trust, their relationship is bound for misery.

GR: How are you feeling about the end of this series? It’s stirred up tremendous passion among readers with great love for Jude and Cardan, and equally passionate dislike for some of the other characters. Presumably you’ve become very attached to the characters, too? Which was your favorite to write?

HB: Probably Madoc. I love to give bad old-guy advice. Jude and Cardan are enormous fun to write, as is Vivi and the Roach and the Bomb and Nicasia and even Locke. They’re all fun in their ways.

GR: The titles of the three books seem to subvert the usual hierarchy or order we’d expect to see a prince, a queen, and king in. Was that deliberate?

HB: It was deliberate, but it also corresponded to the turns of the story. Without the ending of The Wicked King, the title The Queen of Nothing wouldn’t have made nearly as much sense.

GR: Is writing books or stories set in the faerie universe something you think you’ll always return to?

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HB: It sure seems like it!

GR: Could there be another book set in Elfhame?

HB: Possibly, I suppose...

GR: Do you think you would ever write a book without supernatural elements?

HB: I don’t think so. Doll Bones is probably the closest I ever came, and I doubt I will ever get that close again.

GR: You recently spent some time on a writing retreat in Greece. How did that go? And can you tell us anything about what you’re working on or what’s next?

HB: Greece was absolutely lovely. The food was amazing, the view was beautiful, the company was wonderful. But when I start a new project, I always think I am going to be able to jump right in, and what I found was that I was still exploring the idea. I did a lot of drafting, but I am not sure how much of it will make it into the final project. As soon as I figure out what I am doing next, I will let you know, too!

GR: Please give us some recommendations for books you’ve recently loved or titles in your TBR pile that you’re itching to get to!

HB: Books I’ve read recently and loved or am desperate to start: Leigh Bardugo’s adult debut, Ninth House; Kim Liggett’s The Grace Year; Libba Bray’s amazing conclusion to her Diviners series, The King of Crows; Tochi Onyebuchi’s War Girls; Renée Ahdieh’s The Beautiful; and Rainbow Rowell’s Wayward Son.

Holly Black's The Queen of Nothing will be available in the U.S. on November 19. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf. Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

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