“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”
How did the sequel to a 2½ stars book turn out to be a whooping 4 stars?
I think that The Wicked King picked me up like a rag doll and smashed me on the floor. Violently, viciously, with its plot. For once, I loved being hit.
THE WICKED KING (HOLLY BLACK) [FOLK OF THE AIR #2]
Genre(s) Fantasy || Age Group: Young Adult
Published: 8 January 2019 || Read: 18 October 2020
No. of Pages: 322 (Hardcover)
Click here to view Trigger WarningsMurder, death, bullying, abandonment, captivity, abuse, talk of past child abuse
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.
click here to see the rest of the blurb which has SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1: The Cruel PrinceJude 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 biddable. 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 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.
This was a sequel to The Cruel Prince picking up immediately after The Cruel Prince where Jude, our protagonist: a mortal in the fae world, gains power and learns of dangerous secrets. And of course, risks her life.
“I want to tell you so many lies.”
I can’t deny it. The start was slow, and quite boring in my opinion but thankfully the pace picked up with so much action. Though I do like a proper build up and then to a shocking revelation, this book with its quick and impactful twists filled my heart. The fact that major plot twists were delivered one after another in succession in short bursts and yet managed to hit me was incredible.
Normally I would criticise this as by doing so, everything feels rushed and I can’t swallow the enormity of the plot change. However, The Wicked King just does it. I can’t really explain but they were all linked to each other and yet juxtaposed each other, also contrasting with other events in the first book. That does sound overwhelming but it was so swift and impactful, especially with some foreshadowing used.
The plot twists were not only the subversion of my expectations of plots but also totally smashed the image of the characters I was slowly crafting in my head. The plot twists added a new layer to out already mysterious and hardcore characters. For that intensity and insanity, I applaud Holly Black.
I still cannot get over it ahhhh. QUEEN OF NOTHING PLEASE BLESS ME WITH YOUR PRESENCE. NOW. Again, Holly Black excels at the plot twists setting up the base for the next book and getting me into scream mode.
Another thing I loved about The Wicked King is again the plot but this time let’s talk about the minor characters. They did not get enough love in the first book, playing only a minor role and appearing simply when a plot change was needed, instead of living their own lives and influencing the plot. In contrast, The Wicked King has our minor characters as a hidden driving force in the story and an extra point of contention, and extra layer of shadiness which I adored absolutely. Points to The Wicked King for giving everyone a chance to shine and turn the whole book around!
“He looks up at me with his night-colored eyes, beautiful and terrible all at once. “For a moment,” he says, “I wondered if it wasn’t you shooting bolts at me.” I make a face at him. “And what made you decide it wasn’t?” He grins up at me. “They missed.”
And of course what kind of review would this be without mentioning Jude and Cardan?
THE AMOUNT OF TENSION AND ANGST IN THE BEGINNING was UNBEARABLE IN ALL CAPS. I was SUFFERING. I normally don’t like the cliche enemies to lovers trope but I was so rooting for this and my mind being like HURRY UP DO YOUR THING. We could see glimpses of affection and trust throughout the book which was provoking as like FASTER PLEASE. My annoyance shows you how well Holly Black did at this romance. I WAS SUCKED. ENRAPTURED BY CARDAN’s SMILE AND JUDE’s HELPLESSNESS BUT NOT REALLY.
I felt that through alternating events of “yay I trust you” and “nooo get away from me,” the tension escalated immensely and led to certain epic moments. That romance really added that essential element to the story and played a crucial role in the turn of events.
“You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.”
In The Wicked King, there is no doubt that our characters have matured drastically, one such being our Jude. Despite that, I am sorry to say that the emotional element was compromised. Again. I like to root for the characters. In order to do so, I need to be able to understand their motivations, hear their thoughts, see different sides of their character. While The Wicked King did touch on that, it was still not enough to make Jude feel real for me. 😦 This affected my journey with her as I was mostly reading on for the plot and not for the characters.
Okay so most of the reason why this book was electrifying to me was because of the plot. It lacked in many other elements such as the emotional element which is essential for me. So this book as a whole was not great but I just had to give it four stars as I was blown away by the plot.