Desert Tales (Wicked Lovely)
Melissa Marr’s writing actually really works for me. It’s not super ornate or incredibly simple, residing in that happy medium that’s both impressive, but not particularly pretentious. She also writes the kind of paranormal where everything isn’t shiny and happy and innocent. Though the faeries in her world are beautiful, they’re also mostly cruel and deceiving, even if they can’t lie. Her love interests stand out in YA, though they would blend in with NA heroes these days perhaps, tending to be more edgy than clean cut.
Another thing to love about these books is that Marr writes strong heroines. Rika lives a quiet life in the desert, nursing her long-broken heart, but she is a force to be reckoned with. She is protective and quick to love, even after all of the pain. Actually, I think the ease with which she falls in love might be part of why she hid herself in the desert, that and trying to feel warm again after her stint as the Winter Girl.
The plot of Desert Tales will spoil Wicked Lovely, but, if I remember correctly, it won’t spoil much, if any, of the rest of the series. Not remembering things too clearly, Desert Tales wasn’t confusing, and I think it could be read by someone new to the series. Some of the impact might be lost, but it should still work fairly well.
What Left Me Wanting More:
My main issue was with the romance. It irritated me most of the way through. These freaking paranormals always want to date humans, and I do not see the appeal, especially when the paranormal is decades old and the human is a teen. Gross, right? Plus, Jayce is boring. And Rika stalked him for a long time before they talked, which apparently doesn’t bother him. 3 starThat said, the epilogue pulls the romance together perfectly. Marr explains everything in a way that really made sense, and she ended up bringing things to a conclusion I really approve of, even if getting there was frustrating.
The Final Verdict:
This late addition to the Wicked Lovely proved to be a pleasant addition to the series. Fans will likely not be disappointed.
Rika, a former Winter Girl, has become a solitary faery and has sought out the desert after years of living with ice in her body. Over time, she develops a friendship with the fox faery, Sionnach, who performs some trickery to move her out of herself and help her appreciate life and the world once more. She meets Jayce, a laid-back mortal, and they develop not only a romance but a friendship that enables Rika to move on from her past.
Part of this review may be lacking because I am not aware of the back story, but I appreciated the attempts at laying it out so that new readers can jump in. Personally, I still was confused a lot, and so I recommend reading the rest of the Wicked Lovely series if you'd like to pick this up. Still, I found the story and the characters to be an interesting diversion, and I was especially intrigued by Sionnach, the conniving fox faery, and his motivations for manipulating Rika, even though he knows that is something that could drastically hurt her. Rika and Keenan and the other faeries I was not able to fully grasp or appreciate because I couldn't understand fully their history. Thankfully, Sionnach made up for that as I read. I also found it fascinating how Rika was so "strong," and was obviously meant to 'defy' gender stereotypes, yet at the same time she longed for protection and strength from Jayce and Sionnach. She spent years laying off being strong and taking time to heal. I don't think there is any lack in strong female heroines these days in young adult fiction, so even if it was unintended, the glimpses of Rika's true femininity shining through helped me enjoy her character more than I would have if she had just come off as strong and ruthless. It is an interesting concept I think that should be explored further these days--how often a strong woman's ruthlessness comes as a part of her brokenness and painful history, rather than something that naturally springs forth on its own. Rika's softness and trusting nature were appealing to me.
The world-building in this book is great, which is part of why I'm drawn to the rest of the series. It probably helped me find my way in Marr's Wicked Lovely world more than any other element of the story. Having spent some time in the desert of the American West, I very much appreciated her detailed and convincing descriptions of the heat, the beautiful vistas, the interesting flora and fauna, and the draw of the desert to those who are looking for a means of escape.
Overall, though a short book, I think this is probably a must-read for fans of the Wicked Lovely series, and if you need a fun diversion and have not read the others but like all things faery, you should check it out.