Before reading Wicked Lovely, my experience with fairy/faerie/fae fiction was very limited: unless, like Claudine/Claude and their ilk in the Sookie Stackhouse books, they popped up in books from other (urban) fantasy books or are in the movie Labyrinth I tended to avoid them. But after hearing many good things about Wicked Lovely I decided to give it a go.
I'm glad I did.
One of the big things I love about Wicked Lovely is the obvious effort Marr has put into her research and her world-building. Each chapter begins with an epigraph from reference books about fairy mythology which ties in somewhat to the chapter it belongs to. Both the human world and each of the faerie Courts are fully-realised. The in-story mythos is strong and in place, and the rules of the created canon are stuck to. This is always a very good thing in fantasy, and where a lot of fantasy falls short these days. Some authors seem to think that fantasy doesn't require research or rules – thankfully Marr is not one of these authors, and her positive attitude towards research and in-universe rules shows through in her story.
The characters too, are fully-realised, too, with the exception of the Winter Queen. Someone else (I forget who) mentioned that she seemed too much like a stock villain, too full of cliches. I have to partially agree with that – she seemed like she was trying too hard, and that she was written in a way that expressed it not to be a character issue but more a mild reflection on the author's skill of handling her. But apart from her, the characters were all vibrant and interesting, and definitely with more than one note. Seth is probably the hallmark of that attitude, as, given the way he looks and where he lives, one could easily write him off and turn him into a stereotype. Not Marr though: she handles him well. He's complex and interesting and I'm not surprised he is a favourite amongst many female readers. He could easily have been portrayed in the way his exterior might have others do so but no. So well done on that, Marr.
My favourite thing about Wicked Lovely is the theme of choice, and Marr's understanding of it. Choice is evident right from the prologue and stays right until the end. From one's role in life to who you love, choice is woven throughout the novel and is an important part of the plot. One thing I loved most about choice in Wicked Lovely is the understanding to not make a choice is in fact a choice itself. That is something that is often looked over, so well done there.
Wicked Lovely is a fast-paced novel with a fully-realised world full of wonderful characters. The writing is clean and true, and wonderfully evocative without having to resort into the depths of purple prose. The story will keep you hooked and wanting more. So go on and read Ink Exchange… we all have a while to wait until Fragile Eternity comes out.