Literature: Wicked Lovely

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Rule #2: Don't answer invisible faeries.
Rule #1: Don't ever attract faeries' attention.
Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely is a YA urban fantasy series by Melissa Marr. It consists of a book of the same name (2007), Ink Exchange (2008), Fragile Eternity (2009), Radiant Shadows (2010) and Darkest Mercy (2011).

Aislinn is an ordinary human girl - or she would be, if it weren't for the fact she can see faeries. All her life she's been terrified of them, trying to hide her gift to avoid attracting their attention. But that becomes very difficult when one very powerful faerie starts following her.

Keenan, the young king of the Summer Court, thinks she might be his prophesied Summer Queen. The one who'll save the fae world from the oppressive rule of the Winter Court. And it's not too long before Aislinn is pulled into a world of dark magic, political intrigue, and romance.


This series provides examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: How Irial perceives the Dark Court. See also this page's entry for Blue and Orange Morality.
  • Action Girl: Ani, Chela. All female Hounds probably apply.
  • Achilles' Heel: Iron is poisonous to fey except for monarchs and a select few others like Bananach.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: However, it's pretty clear that boys want bad girls as well.
  • Anchored Ship: Aislinn and Keenan.
  • And I Must Scream: Shades [ghosts of faeries], "trapped and silent for all eternity."
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The solitary fey work on "rule of might and will,",which basically amounts to this. Unusual for this trope, and likely due to Fair Folk Blue and Orange Morality, this is a good thing, or at least works for the solitaries.
  • Author Catchphrase: "There are always choices," which doubles as An Aesop, is spoken by a different character every book, sometimes more than once.)
  • Author Appeal: Several characters have similar tastes in music and fashion to Melissa Marr, not to mention the whole tattoo thing in Ink Exchange...
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Ani, according to Word of God.
  • Ax-Crazy: Bananach.
  • An Ice Person: The Winter Court.
  • Badass Normal: Aislinn's grandmother; Seth (most of the time).
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: In Radiant Shadows especially: "Without shadows, the radiance was insufficient."
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Irial can come off this way in regards to Leslie and Niall.
  • Battle Couple: Ani and Devlin; Gabriel and Chela.
  • Be Careful What You Say
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Poor Leslie.
  • Bedmate Reveal: In Radiant Shadows, involving Irial, Ani, and Niall. Niall walks into Irial's house while Ani is awakening from sleep, and he immediately comes to the wrong conclusion.
  • Biker Babe: Ani.
  • Bishōnen: Despite the scars, Niall is outright referred to as 'pretty' often.
  • Blood Knight: Bananach, the Hounds.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Pretty much everyone. For example, Donia stabbing Aislinn might seem like a pretty harsh move, but due to her position as the Winter Queen, it was politically (and, arguably, metaphysically) necessary for Donia to take whatever measures necessary to limit Summer's ability to meddle in her Court.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Even though Niall kinda fails at the bodyguard part.
  • Break the Haughty: Whilst not quite an example, Iri tries to warn Devlin of this in Radiant Shadows.
    "Pride comes before a fall, my friend. But then, you've already fallen, haven't you?"
  • Broken Bird: Leslie. Donia as well, who is arguably even more of a woobie, just the iron variety.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Keenan at the end of Darkest Mercy, after giving up his immortality to save Donia's life. He gets better in the epilogue, though.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: Only some humans, like Aislinn and her grandmother, can naturally See faeries.
  • Byronic Hero: Irial.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Extensive use, in accordance with old fairy folklore. There are ways to work around it however which are used extensively, such as omission or evasion.
  • Casting a Shadow: The dark and shadow courts, of course.
  • Chick Magnet: Irial, Niall, Keenan, Seth
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Rae, the spectral girl who Devlin takes into his care.
  • City Noir: Huntsdale, just...Huntsdale.
  • The Chosen One: Aislinn, Ani.
  • Dark Is Evil: The denizens of the Dark Court. Subverted somewhat with Irial and Niall, who consciously hold their Court at least somewhat in check. Water fey as well, as glimpsed throughout the series and in Darkest Mercy previews. FAR more so than the Dark Court, they are borderline sociopaths to mortal standards, or at least completely, utterly alien. Even most 'normal' fey fear them.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Also applies to the Dark Court. Both Dark Is Evil and Dark Is Not Evil can apply to them because of the Blue and Orange Morality of faeries. Death fey like Far Dorcha and the Shadow Court as well.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Everyone, really, but most especially the Dark Court - again.
  • Dream Weaver: Rae.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Niall
  • Dysfunction Junction: Everyone has issues of some kind. EVERYONE. Misery loves company and faeries, evidently.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Definitely. These characters go through a lot, and things get pretty bad for faerie as a whole at points, but it's worth it in the end.
  • Emotion Eater: The Dark Court, Ani especially.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Oh, Irial. Niall too. Remember the scene with Seth lusting on him in Fragile Eternity?
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Gabriel is always referred to as such. Marr has stated that he had another name before, and that it's not secret but it's not relevant either.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: Beira.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Niall. Probably inevitable, but more interesting angsty.
  • Faeries Speaking English: Why Sorcha, who has been around literally forever, speaks perfect -if overly formal- modern English despite having never even been to the human world is the worst example, but it applies to several faeries. Mind you, it would be hard to write all dialogue in Gaelic, especially considering most readers wouldn't understand it, so this was probably a common-sense move on Melissa's part. Although faeries HAVE been said to possess the gift of tongues.
  • The Fair Folk: Pretty much the very engine of the series.
  • Fatal Flaw: Way to withhold vital info, Keenan.
  • Femme Fatalons: Bananach. Of course, without faery glamour, they're literal talons.
  • Freakiness Shame: Think Niall's extensive scarring might be unattractive? Pfft.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Keenan and Seth do NOT get along. It's mostly because each is jealous of the other's relationship with Aislinn.
  • The Fog of Ages: Sorcha has been around since faerie was first created, and by her own admission doesn't remember a lot of it.
  • Four Seasons: Well, two of them: Winter and Summer.
  • For Happiness: The Summer Court's basic mentality. Keenan's Summer Girls in particular serve as a strong 'choose happiness' thing.
    • "Sometimes, it's not about being happy, but courting happiness."
  • Green Thumb: Again, the Summer Court.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ani, Tish, and Rabbit. To a much lesser extent, Aislinn.
  • Half Truth: What else did you expect from The Fair Folk?
  • Human Mom Nonhuman Dad: Gabriel's kids: Ani, Rabbit and Tish.
  • The High Queen: Sorcha, of course. She's even called the High Queen.
  • Horror Hunger: Negative emotions (fear, hatred, pain, lust, greed, etc) are the Dark Court's source of nourishment.
  • Idiot Ball: Aislinn in Fragile Eternity, Sorcha in Radiant Shadows.
  • Important Haircut: Niall had much longer hair in the backstory, but cut it very short when he left the dark court, both as a symbolic gesture of 'not looking back' and for more practical trauma-related reasons, according to Word of God.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: Keenan and Aislinn.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The Dark Court, and how.
  • Interspecies Romance: Aislinn and Seth, Keenan and Donia (once Keenan is human and also when Keenan is courting Donia while searching for the Summer Queen), all of the courting with mortal girls Keenan does while trying to find the Summer Queen counts as well.
  • Jumped at the Call: Ani in Radiant Shadows. Given that she didn't fit in the Dark Court or among Gabriel's Hounds, it's quite understandable.
  • Killed Off for Real: Tish in Radiant Shadows. Evan and Gabriel as well in Darkest Mercy.
  • Knife Nut: Probably the way many fey fight, but special mention goes to Ani who states at one point "a girl can never have too many knives". Also her father Gabriel, and Bananach.
  • Land of Faerie: Where the High and Shadow Courts reside.
  • Light Is Not Good: The Summer Court is far from perfect and the High Court is implied to be the villain in Radiant Shadows.
  • Love Hurts: Hoo, boy.
  • Magical Girl: Um... all of them?
  • Making a Splash: Water fey, like Aobheall and Innis, have been mentioned throughout the series and according to the snippets on the author's website pay a big role in the final book. Namely, they're vital allies to the Courts in the final battle against Bananach.
  • Mama Bear: Sorcha towards Seth.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Irial, full stop.
  • May-December Romance: Due to the immortality of the fey, pretty much every couple except Aislinn/Seth and Niall/Irial.
  • Mayfly-December Romance: What Irial and Niall's relationship with Leslie is, as well as being a major source of angst for Seth in Fragile Eternity. He gets better.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The Hounds' Steeds, and Donia's wolf Sasha.
  • Nobody Thinks It Will Work: The general reaction of the Summer Court to Aislinn's relationship with Seth. It works out in the end, though.
  • Not Himself: In Darkest Mercy, the shade of dead Irial persists in Niall's mind, and sometimes takes full possession of the body, causing the already-falling-apart-at-the-seams Niall to black out now and then, only to come to and realize that he's stabbed someone else without being aware of it and other such things. Keenan figures out what's going on after realizing that Niall is not himself and that Niall's behaviour is very similar to the last Dark King, Irial.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Bananach.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Rabbit, Gabriel.
  • The Ophelia: If Sorcha wasn't one in Radiant Shadows, she was damn close.
  • Order Versus Chaos: High Court and Dark Court. Sorcha and Bananach. Reason and War. You can't kill one without killing the other.
    • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Though it plays out a bit differently then most examples of the trope, with Dark (emotion) fey being portrayed more sympathetically than their High Court (stoicism) counterparts.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Not technically vampires, but needing others' blood is a result of Devlin being the creation of Sorcha and Bananach, and thus the balance between Reason and War.
  • Out with a Bang: Pity the poor innocent bystanders in Ink Exchange. Well, poor innocent quasi-bystanders.
  • Plant Person: Hawthorn (Winter) and Rowan (Summer) fey.
  • Polyamory: Niall, Irial, and Leslie are all totally cool with their emotional - though not physical - three-way. To a lesser extent, Ani and Rae don't appear to have any qualms about sharing Devlin either.
  • Posthumous Character: Miach, the previous Summer King, and Moira, Aislinn's mother.
  • The Power of the Sun: The Summer Court, of course, especially their king, Keenan. And later Aislinn as the Summer Queen. This comes into play in Fragile Eternity, when Aislinn is seriously wounded by Donia's ice and Keenan heals her by giving her some of his sunlight.
  • Put on a Bus: Being a pretty smart girl, Leslie puts herself on a bus at the end of Ink Exchange.
  • Rags to Royalty
  • Rape as Backstory: Leslie. Niall as well, even though in his case backstory means '1200 years ago'. Still counts.
  • Reality Warper: Sorcha, Bananach, Seth in the human world, Devlin, Rae in dreams, and arguably Ani once she becomes Gabrielle of the Shadow Court's Hunt.
  • Red String of Fate: Aislinn and Keenan, though she resists it — with success, for the most part.
  • Reformed Rakes: Seth.
  • Reluctant Monster: Niall as a Gancanagh, before becoming the Dark King.
  • Resigned to the Call: Aislinn at the end of Wicked Lovely.
    • Niall at the end of Ink Exchange, after Irial forces him to become the new Dark King.
  • Sadistic Choice: Irial gives Niall one in their shared backstory, as revealed in Ink Exchange- "You entertain the court or they can, Gancanagh." Niall chose to give them himself.
  • Scars Are Forever: Niall, oh so much so.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: Half of Keenan's power as the Summer King, sealed away by Beira and Irial.
  • Shown Their Work: Marr generally gets the folklore right, though, of course, faery lore is already old enough and varied enough that Marr can have quite a bit of wiggle room to make any new innovations she sees fit.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Sorcha and Bananach.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Oh, Irial...
  • Single-Minded Twins: Ani and Tish act like this, despite not actually being twins.
  • The Symbiote: How ink exchanges are supposed to work.
  • There Are No Therapists: Subverted somewhat with Leslie, who is revealed to be having therapy in Stopping Time. Justified with anyone else as no sane therapist would believe them.
  • Title Drop: Once a book.
    • Wicked Lovely: "And he smiled at her, truly smiled- wicked and lovely..."
    • Ink Exchange: Frequently, but it's to be expected due to ink exchanges being the central plot device as well as the title.
    • Fragile Eternity: (Ask another troper to find one, but I'm sure it was in Seth's pov.)
    • Radiant Shadows: "Without shadows, the radiance was insufficient." and "Instead of being wrought of shadows like those from her own court, this faery had a tangled feel. Shadow and radiance."
    • Stopping Time: "It's okay to stop time every so often to be with someone you love."
  • Took a Level in Badass: Niall in Fragile Eternity, Aislinn in Darkest Mercy.
  • Triang Relations: Of the polyamourous variety. Ani/Devlin/Rae is a type seven which turns into more of an eleven at the end of Radiant Shadows with the loyalty/friendship between Ani and Rae nonsexual in nature. Rae and Ani certainly don't seem to mind sharing Devlin. Irial/Niall/Leslie is a type eight.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Niall
  • Try Not to Die: The last line of Radiant Shadows is Devlin telling Seth, "Try not to die, brother."
  • Understanding Boyfriend: The degree to which Seth embodies this trope comes dangerously close to ridiculousness.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Their shared leadership of the Summer Court puts Aislinn and Keenan in this kind of relationship.
  • What Is Evil?: Irial tends to do this a bit. See "above good and evil", above. Some people thought a bit too much about it, as well.
  • Willing Channeler: What the ink exchange makes Leslie into.
  • Winter Royal Lady: Beira and Donia.
  • Where the hell is Huntsdale?: It was actually assumed to be in Pennsylvania, until Melissa said she deliberately left it ambiguous.
  • The Wild Hunt: The Gabriel hounds, and possibly the shadow court.
  • Woman Scorned: Implied to be the reason for Beira turning all psycho (because of Miach). Donia also has her moments (because of Keenan). It must be a Winter Court thing.
  • Wonder Child: Seth, pretty much.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Sorcha by Radiant Shadows. Aislinn also has elements of this. Subverted with Donia, who adapts to being Winter Queen surprisingly well. Completely averted with Ani, who pretty much jumps at the call where the Shadow Court is concerned.
  • Word of God: Plenty of it- Melissa pops up on the fan forums every now and then.
  • Yaoi Guys: Irial and Niall again.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Every month spent in Faerie is six months in the human world, which somewhat explains why the High Court's mannerisms seem so old fashioned.
  • You Sexy Beast