Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black [Folk of the Air #2]

“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.


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 Warnings Murder, death, bullying, abandonment, captivity, abuse, talk of past child abuse

Links: Goodreads || Amazon

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 Prince Jude 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.

Series: Folk of the Air (book 1: The Cruel Prince, book 2: The Wicked King, book 3: The Queen of Nothing)

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.

Have you read The Wicked King? Was it also a huge surprise after The Cruel Prince?

22 thoughts on “Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black [Folk of the Air #2]

  1. Oh dear oh dear am I going to have to pick this series up after all?! 🤭😂 I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed this book more than the first one! This review was so well-written and informative — I’m on the edge of my seat as to what you think of The Queen of Nothing!! Lovely post Cherelle 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, I was so surprised! You should pick it up if you don’t mind enduring the first book and also if you’re looking for a good plot. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment Abby! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree about the plot being the strongest aspect of this book!

    You made a good point as well about it lacking emotion. I wonder if it has something to do with Jude being emotionally withdrawn? Since the first book, she seems intent on not thinking about her past trauma or the meaning behind her own thoughts and actions. Hmm. 🤔 You’ve given me a lot to think about – I’ve loved reading your thoughts on this series so far! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh that is an interesting point there… I do agree that neglecting the past trauma and all was quite significant as because I couldn’t fully see how her backstory affected with her, and thus I couldn’t feel for her.

      On the other hand, if she were emotionally withdrawn, could it also be more emotional when her interior is shown? Hmmm, you are making me think too!

      Thank you for the insightful comment, Noelle. 😊


  3. Hahhah! I’m so confused now as to whether I should pick it up or not! So happy you liked this better than The Cruel Prince! I mean 2 1/2 stars to 4 stars! Whoah! I love this review, you made sure to include the good as well as the bad – which I love about you – you always provide an honest review, and your blogging voice is so conversational! I cant wait to pick it up ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I was appalled at the big jump! 😆

      Ahhh thank you for the kind words, I’m so glad you enjoyed the review! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed The Wicked King more than the Cruel Prince. In my opinion, TWK is probably the best in the series but I do like one certain line/scene in Queen of Nothing, which I gave a 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 on Goodreads! Can’t wait to see what you think of QON!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh I’ll look out for that scene haha though I may not be able to guess so do tell me when my review is out! 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The same EXACT thing happened to me. I felt The Cruel Prince was pretty average and I had no idea how Black can make it better. But wow The Wicked King took my breath away, I had to read the title and author name again because I couldn’t fathom how The Cruel Prince and this book had the same author! I’m interested to see what would you think of The Queen of Nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m heartened that you feel the same way! Yep, those last two books saved the trilogy. 😆


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