The Wicked King
By Holly Black
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.
When I first tried to read The Cruel Prince I decided I hated it before I got through the first twenty pages. I was convinced that the rest of the world was wrong, and that The Cruel Prince was absolutely terrible. I posted about it, talked about with friends, and probably made enemies with a good half of the bookstagram community. But one of my friends would not give up on me. She promised that if I finished The Cruel Prince she would read a book of my choice that I’d been begging her to read for ages, so I begrudgingly agreed. I forced my way through the pages, hating almost every character I met along the way, but somewhere around halfway through I found myself unable to put it down, utterly invested in the story. I finished the book two hours later and made amends with (almost) everyone. From the moment I finished The Cruel Prince I put The Wicked King on my most anticipated reads of 2019, and started reading it on my Kindle the moment it was released.
This book absolutely infuriated me in the best way possible. Holly Black does a fantastic job and sucking readers back into the world of Elfhame–this time with Cardan on the throne. I loved how Cardan and Jude interacted throughout the story, the tension is tangible between the two, and the moment it finally breaks is absolutely epic and has given a new meaning to “I hate you”. Cardan and Jude’s relationship progresses in a way that is both entertaining and well done. There were moments between the two that made me swoon, made me yell, and made me wonder why I like to torture myself, but they are definitely one of my favorite ships. Jude is just as badass as ever (if not more), and Cardan a pompous ass who I both want to hit and kiss. Taryn and Locke still remain as two of my least favorite characters ever created, but that alone is a testament to Black’s incredible characterization…I don’t think I’ve ever loved hating anyone as much as I love to hate them. Their whole relationship just pisses me off to no end, and I swear to god the reveal near the end that involved Taryn had me screaming and tossing my book around the room. Speaking of things that had me screaming, I love how the Undersea was more involved in this book. Queen Orlagh and Nacasia and Balekin really raise the stakes in The Wicked King, and provide a wonder antagonizing force for our favorites to go up against. The only issue I have with the conflict in this novel is that it takes a while to get to it. I felt like the beginning of the novel, though interesting and necessary to establish where we are in time and what’s happened while we’ve been away, could have been much shorter. That and the fact that I had to wait a year for this book and another year for The Queen of Nothing are the only issues I really have. Oh, and that the ending had me absolutely sobbing due rage because of my problematic faves and sadness that I’d have to leave Elfhame again until next year. In all honestly the ending is amazing, and it has left readers begging for the next book as soon as possible.
In conclusion I give The Wicked King by Holly Black four and a half out of five stars for being an incredible sequel to what was one of my favorite books of 2018. I highly recommend The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King to anyone who loves fantasy, epic relationships, and dramatic fae princes.
If you would like to order The Wicked King
If you would like to order The Cruel Prince