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Literature / Wicked Lovely

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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 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), Darkest Mercy (2011) and later Faery Tales & Nightmares (2012), a compilation of short stories set in the Wicked Lovely universe among others and Desert Tales (2013), a companion novel about a former Winter Girl.

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:

  • Achilles' Heel: Iron is poisonous to fey except for monarchs and a select few others like Bananach.
  • An Aesop:
    • The series overall swears by the phrase "There are always choices," which gets repeated in every book as the characters challenge the strict rules of the fey courts and forge their own paths.
    • Ink Exchange, in particular, has the characters (especially Irial) learn that "sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter." Leslie practically has to spell this out as Irial's obsession with her leads to her losing her ability to feel negative emotions, forcing the two apart.
  • Aliens 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.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fetishized Abuser: Irial comes off as an abusive boyfriend in regards to Leslie and Niall. However, he's a Chick Magnet and learns An Aesop later in the plot. Also, the consequences of his toxic behavior are mild at best.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Horror Hunger: Negative emotions (fear, hatred, pain, lust, greed, etc) are the Dark Court's source of nourishment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • After Bananach's visit, Donia begins to believe that she and Beira are the same, and is increasingly afraid that she'll end up killing Keenan like Beira did to Miach and starting a war.
    • While Devlin appears to embody the traits of the High Court, Ani quickly realises that he has a dark core and belongs in the shadows, like her.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pretty Boy: Despite the scars, Niall is outright referred to as 'pretty' often.
  • Put on a Bus: Being a pretty smart girl, Leslie puts herself on a bus at the end of Ink Exchange. She comes back in Darkest Mercy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Try Not to Die: The last line of Radiant Shadows is Devlin telling Seth, "Try not to die, brother."
  • 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.
  • 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.