Wicked Lovely surprised me.
Aislinn lives with her Grams, her mother having died in childbirth, and has grown up with the Sight. She can see faeries; but she can't let them know it. In the legends, mortals have been blinded by faeries, who were known to have the Sight. Faeries, too, are far darker, cruder, and more vicious than people assume. Aislinn has grown up with three rules: Don't stare at them, don't speak to them, and never attract their attention. Faeries move and intermingle in the human world, but are mostly invisible to regular sight. For the most part they've left Aislinn alone, thinking she's no different than other humans--oblivious. Until Keenan, the Summer King, begins to take a special interest in Ash, and the entire faery world's attention is on her.
And the cool wrench in this project is that Aislinn has no romantic interest in Keenan at all. At first I thought, "Okay, she's rejecting him because he's coming on too strong, but she'll come around soon enough and fall for his dark thrall". But she doesn't. She's in love with someone else. I have to say that Keenan is probably my favourite character because he's this summer-loving carefree guy who is immortal and incredibly naive. After thousands of years he only starts to wonder now if he is good for Aislinn, and if he is worthy to ask these women for their sacrifice. He's not a jerk about it, he's perfectly innocent. By the end of the book there is something human unwinding in him that I'd love to see in later books.
One of the weaker aspects of the story was the actual plotting of events. It was all a little uneven for me, and some scenes (like when Ash confronts Keenan at the club) lacked necessary tension. My mind would kind of wander and I'd have to go back to see what happened. Another thing that kicked me out of the story was Seth's character. It's funny, I was thinking that he's just a little too perfect and then I read Melissa's Q&A at the back of my edition where she addresses this critique (I guess others have mentioned it as well). She says:
I've been amused by some readers' comments that [Seth's] "too perfect," especially when such a remark came from one of the guys who influenced me in Seth's creation. There are just a lot of awesome guys out there. Of course, we also see Seth through Ash's eyes, so we see him as she sees him. When we look at the people whom we love, we see (or should see) their radiance. Seth's radiance is dazzling because that's how Ash sees him. If you looked through my eyes at the men and women I've loved, you wouldn't see their flaws, but their brilliance. So that's how I wrote Seth.
And that makes sense to me. To a certain extent. I still think that Seth is too perfect. My point is that if Seth were a girl in the story, I'd look down on her as being too passive and dependent. He spends the book intuiting Ash's needs before she feels them, has no real personal life that is written into the story, and doesn't seem like a person outside of his function as Leading Love Interest. Male or female, I'd love to see more gravity and independence in Seth's character.
What I really did enjoy was the amount of research Melissa obviously did for her story. Each chapter starts with a quote from classic fairy folklore that has to do with the action unfolding. These snippets give the reader an understanding into the type of world that you can expect, it's rules and traditions. When I was initially confused about how the faery balance was kept, these quotes reminded me that there is something fairytale-like about strange rituals muddied by overuse, traditions with weird pasts applied over and over again because they are "law". Until some modern girl comes along and shakes things up a bit.