Culture Pick: Author Holly Black writes strong fantasy novels for all ages

Anna Hill, Contributing Writer

The fiction community is vast and includes thousands of stories and universes for readers to escape into. While it may seem like a difficult genre to dive into as an author, through considerable worldbuilding and fascinating character relationships, writer Holly Black draws readers of all ages to her novels.  

Black is a New York Times best-selling author known for her range of fantasy books for children and young adults.  

Earlier in her career, Black collaborated with Tony DiTerlizzi on “The Spiderwick Chronicles.” Released in 2003, “The Spiderwick Chronicles” is an adventure-filled children’s series that was adapted into a movie by Paramount Pictures due to its commercial success.  

Black and DiTerlizzi’s partnership received ample praise and sold over 20 million copies, according to Goodreads 

In 2018, Black released “The Cruel Prince,” the first book in the young adult “The Folk of the Air series. The novel follows the main character, Jude, who faces many obstacles as a human navigating the Faerie world, a dangerous and unpredictable universe, looking for a place to belong.  

Black continued the series with two more books, “The Wicked King” and “The Queen of Nothing” in 2019. The series also features two novellas with short stories from the perspective of other characters in Jude’s life.  

In this series, Black balances themes of love and war, especially through the consequences Jude faces as she struggles for power.  

“The Folk of the Air” series is one of Black’s most successful releases and has received a great amount of attention on the internet, particularly on TikTok. Free time for readers during the COVID-19 pandemic led to “BookTok,” a hashtag and community on TikTok where readers share their thoughts on books of every genre. Many users had opinions on the sometimes-questionable love story in “The Folk of the Air” series, while others praised the entire series and created thousands of videos applauding it. 

In “The Folk of the Air,” most of the Fae feel superior to humans, and Jude experiences frequent humiliation at school, even from her love interest, Cardan. Some readers enjoyed Jude and Cardan’s relationship as it is the enemies-to-lovers dynamic seen in many popular books today. 

On the other hand, according to one TikTok user, “unpopular opinion: ‘The Cruel Prince’ is a bully romance.”  

However, another reader on Goodreads described the trope in the series as “well executed” and would recommend it to any fantasy lover. 

Despite how you feel about Jude and Cardan’s relationship, this series is easy to read and will leave you wanting to immediately reach for the next book. 

After writing for the young adult crowd for years, Black recently entered the adult fiction genre with her latest novel, “Book of Night,” released last year.  

“Book of Night” is a thrilling fiction that follows the life of Charlie, a human involved in a world filled with magic and shadows, who is trying to leave her previous life of secret societies. However,  Charlie realizes that her past may not be so easy to escape.  

The novel starts slowly with limited world building and character introductions, then picks up in the second half as Charlie continues her battle. She attempts to push through her job as a bartender, but soon she is surrounded by troubles, drama and people that she cannot seem to escape. Although the beginning is slow, Black helps the reader connect with the characters and become excited for Charlie’s journey.  

Throughout the story, Charlie attempts to manage the relationships in her life but discovers she might not know as much as she thought about the people she loves. As her journey continues, she is consistently determined to survive amid chaos and instability.  

In all of her books, Black creates fictional universes with powerful characters and gives an option for readers of all ages to indulge in the fantasy genre. Her entrance into the adult world after a long career in children and young adult books has already started off strong.