Book: The Wicked King
Series: The Folk of the Air, #2
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA fantasy
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
The Cruel Prince: ★★★★★
The Wicked King: ★★★★★
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.
July 3rd was my birthday and what a great way to celebrate by receiving this gorgeous ARC of The Wicked King! My husband’s friend Rachel went to ALA and picked up this copy for me. (Thank you so much, Rachel! I am forever grateful for your kindness!)
The Cruel Prince was my most anticipated release of 2018 and, to be honest, it’s the book that inspired me to start book blogging. I wanted to help spread the word about how much I loved it, and in turn spread the word for other amazing books. I knew I wouldn’t be able to rest until I found out what happened to Jude and Cardan at the end of The Cruel Prince.
So, to put it mildly, this book crushed my soul. Then it picked my soul back up and crushed it some more and then threw it in a trash can. I finished this book around 1 AM and stayed up until 3 AM processing EVERY. SINGLE. THING. I kept analyzing all the scenarios, dialogue, EVERYTHING to find a clue that led to the events in the end. I was so immersed in the story I couldn’t even predict what was going to happen. I just let the waves come crashing down on me as twist after twist unfolded. Just when I thought things were safe… NOPE. Nothing was safe. Nothing.
The Wicked King picks up five months after the cliffhanger in The Cruel Prince. Jude is ruling behind the scenes with Cardan under her thumb. Not only is Jude trying to keep Oak safe, but the sea folk (remember Nicasia?) have now come into play (Ah, yes, the cover finally makes sense!) The best way I can describe this book is how politically driven it is. It is like one giant game of chess where you can’t even tell who is the real pawn and who is in control.
One thing that carries over from the first book is Jude’s unconventional relationship with her surrogate father, Madoc. They both have such a complex love/hate father-daughter relationship. To be honest their scenes together are always my favorite. I love how one moment they would be discussing party plans, and the next they want to kill each other. I always look forward to seeing who will pull the wool over the other’s eyes first.
And of course, there’s our favorite Prince Cardan. Cardan’s character evolves and gets so much more ‘screen’ time in this book. And, oh yes, you will be happy when you read his scenes with Jude! You can feel their sexual tension no matter how horrible they are to each other. If you’re into enemies-to-lovers tropes, you’re in for a real treat.
However, Cardan isn’t the only one who has had significant character growth. Jude’s character development game is strong in this one. Even though Jude has always been my favorite badass, I felt like bits of The Cruel Prince were a tad juvenile (especially the scenes of them in school.) But in The Wicked King, it is all politics and business. Jude’s thirst for power has grown so much and I was screaming every time she plotted and schemed.
I’m going to stop here because I don’t want to reveal any juicy details or even mention the other characters. All I’ll say is that The Wicked King totally lives up to the hype, and in my opinion, stands above The Cruel Prince x 1000. The writing has matured significantly and you will love (and try to over-analyze) all the breadcrumbs Holly Black leaves behind for us to devour. There are so many gears turning; so many puzzle pieces that have no where to fit. Clear your weekend to read this in one sitting when it comes out on January 8, 2019.
I cannot wait to read this again and again. I just know the audio book is going to be amazing, too. I hope you all enjoy The Wicked King as much as I did! It is already my favorite book of 2018. ❤
Barnes & Noble has an exclusive edition with bonus content! Preorder here.