Also by this author: The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)
on January 8, 2019
Genres: Faeries & Fae, Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 338 •Format: Hardcover •Source: Purchased
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
*Warning: This review will contain spoilers for The Cruel Prince*
While I enjoyed The Cruel Prince, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really get the HYPE surrounding it- it was good but it was also full of excessively cruel bullying, confusing court politics (at least for me) and non-romances that didn’t do anything for me. But oh, how I stand corrected. Once I got into The Wicked King it was compulsively readable, and it finally CLICKED for me why this series is so successful. Also, infinite bonus points to Holly Black for managing to write a super compelling, fleshed out fantasy novel in under 400 pages (they don’t all have to be 700+ pages to be successful!!!)
The Wicked King picks up shortly after the events of The Cruel Prince, with Cardan on the throne as Jude’s puppet, Oak hanging out in the human world eating string cheese and going to public school (as one does) and Taryn getting ready to marry her shifty fiancé (I read the novella that was from her POV and was like YAWN SAVE IT FOR SOMEONE WHO CARES TARYN). Jude is like YES I FINALLY HAVE POWER AND I LOVE IT AND WANT MORE and honestly I was cheering right along with her because we rarely get female YA protagonists who want to be powerful for the sake of being powerful and Jude is basically my Slytherin spirit animal. Yet, as one may expect after reading the first novel in the series, there is ~tension~ between Jude and Cardan and I found myself invested in it despite my best attempts, but hey kudos to Holly Black for writing a festering romance that not based on true love/perfect soul mates/etc. Sometimes you just like someone even if they’re not the right person for you *shrugs*
Of course there’s plenty of plotting, politics, some kidnapping to spice things up, potential war on the horizon, etc. and Jude is caught in the middle of all of it while trying to keep her tenuous grip on the throne and on Cardan all while trying to figure out what the heck she’s going to do once her year long bargain with him is up. The intensifying of Jude and Cardan’s relationship is simmering beneath the surface of all of the court intrigue as well, and it’s a hot mess of desire and disdain, with neither of them ever really being able to clearly articulate their feelings with words, yet there are quite a few grand gestures that happen that speak volumes about Jude and Cardan’s bond.
Along with the romance, there’s actually still quite a bit of focus on Jude’s family, which I was surprised by since after what went down in The Cruel Prince you’d think that Madoc wouldn’t want anything to do with Jude ever again. Yet they continue to talk as he’s still a prominent general involved in the inner workings of the court, and he still encourages her to join forces with him and use her ability to lie to her advantage- showing in his own way that he truly sees her as his daughter despite them being on opposite sides politically. Jude is also around her family quite a bit as Taryn’s wedding approaches, and some uncomfortable realizations about Vivi are made as Jude sees her flippant attitude toward bringing her human girlfriend to Faerie and starts to question just how sympathetic Vivi was to Jude and Taryn’s mortal status when growing up in Faerie themselves.
This is going to be really hard to discuss without spoilers, but can we also talk about that endING? Wow wow wow I literally have not been so surprised by a twist in a long time, and the cliffhanger was right up there with the one at the end of Lord of Shadows by Holly Black. I’ve gone down the black hole in reading theories about what the ending means and I HOPE it’s really an act of love and not of extreme backstabbery.
Overall: The Wicked King amps up the stakes of The Folk of the Air series and ends with a crazy cliffhanger. Taking suggestions on how to survive until Queen of Nothing arrives next year.
I’ll be discussing spoilers below- you’ve been warned!
- View Spoiler »OMG JUDE IS THE QUEEN OF FAERIE. SHE IS MARRIED TO CARDAN. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. That’s it, that’s the discussion. « Hide Spoiler