Wicked Lovely -- Melissa Marr
Aislinn's grandmother has raised her to follow three rules:
#3: Don't stare at invisible faeries
#2: Don't answer invisible faeries
#1: Don't ever attract faeries' attention
An unusual set of rules to live by for a girl living just south of Pittsburgh, maybe, but a necessary one. Aislinn and her grandmother both have the Sight, and faeries don't like mortals to see them. At all.
We're not talking little pain-in-the-ass Tinkerbell faeries. Oh, no. We're talking gouge-out-your-eyes-if-they-catch-you-watching-them faeries. Faeries that delight in hurting humans and hurting each other. Faeries that are much more cruel than the faeries in The Perilous Gard.
But now, for some reason, Aislinn has broken Rule #1. Not through any fault of her own, but nonetheless, Keenan, the Summer King, has started following her. And he wants to make her his own.
Wicked Lovely beat the pants off Twilight*. I don't think that all Twilight fans will necessarily agree with that -- Wicked Lovely is much darker and it's very gritty. There are no sparkly vampires here. (Keenan, as the Summer King, sometimes does glow, but even that is kind of scary.) I personally liked it a bazillion times more.
Aislinn is tough and determined and smart and yes, scared, but she's also capable. She's able to make decisions. She's protective of her friends. She's not a waffler. She doesn't expect other people to protect her. She's all of the things that Bella is not.
Her best friend, Seth, is... I described him to a patron yesterday by flapping my hands around a lot and saying, "He made my stomach all squishy!" So, yeah. He's a dreamboat. A pierced, black-nail-polish-wearing, tea-drinking dreamboat. But, unlike stupid Edward, he doesn't treat Aislinn like a child. He's protective without being overbearing, and he doesn't try to make her decisions for her. AND HE LIVES IN A TRAIN. How hot is that**?
Because the story follows the faerie side of things, too, we learn about the faerie politics between (and within) the different courts, about Keenan's history and why he's after Aislinn. Even though I always knew more about the situation than Aislinn, I never felt that she was being obtuse. (Even about Seth's feelings for her.)
My only complaint was that Beira, the Winter Queen, was so very eeeevil that she was almost ridiculous. Cruella de Vil-ish. I find villains more effective if there's a little something about them that is likable or sympathetic. I did love her June Cleaver look, though.
I highly recommend this one to fans of urban fantasy -- especially swoony romantic urban fantasy -- so, fans of Holly Black, take note. I'd also give it teens who like Rachel Cohn. And yes, to fans of Twilight.
*And I loved Twilight. Not the later installments, but the first one.
**I CANNOT believe I just typed that sentence. How embarrassing. Well, I'm leaving it in. And I'm not talking about sleeping on a pile of straw in the corner of a train car, either. He owns it, and it's been converted into a real, livable place -- with electricity and everything. Sah-woon.