In book review books review

REVIEW: The Wicked King

Title: The Wicked King
Author: Holly Black
Genre(s):  Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Release: January 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. 
“Kiss me until I am sick of it.” 

So... you know those books that kind of have your attention but you go in not thinking much of them and they manage to take you completely by surprise? That's The Wicked King for me. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I ended up doing. But... Oh my God.

What's this book about?
The Wicked King is a continuation of Holly's Black's insanely popular The Cruel Prince and the second instalment in The Folk of the Air series. We follow Jude again, who has now managed to get her enemy, Prince Cardan, on the throne while she blackmails him to pull the strings behind his back. Amidst all the political intrigue within the faerie court, Jude has to keep Cardan in check, but also manage to stay alive in the middle of chaos. But does she really hate Cardan as much as she initially thought, or will she find an unlikely ally in him?

What did I think about The Wicked King?
So, first of all, I really did go in with lower expectations than most. While I loved The Cruel Prince, I did so mostly because of Jude. Cardan was just... not my kind of character. I thought he was a spoiled annoying rich boy  who did the bare minimum, so the reason why I primarily finished The Cruel Prince was because I really loved Jude.

This book, then, took me by complete surprise. Could it be... that I liked Cardan? The Wicked King added a depth to his character I was missing in the earlier books. His dynamic with Jude as well as the plottwist at the end of the book did that for me. Jude, again, remains the superior character for me, but I’m finally starting to see the potential everyone initially saw in him.

The highlight of the book, however, remained Jude for me. As soon as I opened the book and read the first paragraph, I was in love again. She is just such a well-developed, strong, and interesting character. I adore her. There were multiple instances in the book that made me go “AH!.” I also immensely enjoyed her dynamic with Cardan, and even though I knew they were going there, the romance took me completely by surprise (in the sense of how much I ship them!). I thought the combination between the political plot and romantic subplot was really well-balanced.

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. 
The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.” 

While I think romance is an essential aspect for me when it comes to fantasy (I enjoy some kind of combination the most!), I did really enjoy the political plot of The Wicked King. The story kept me on the edge of my seat and I found it harder and harder to put the book down the further I read. Whereas I thought The Cruel Prince suffered some pacing issues, in the sense that the story was very slow, The Wicked King had absolutely none of that. The very first pages threw the reader right back into the world of Faerie and the action immediately started.

Now, for Black’s world-building, I do really like the universe, I do. But, sometimes I find I have trouble picturing the characters because of her descriptions. This isn’t anything that disturbs me from reading, but I did wonder how I was meant to picture some of the characters in the Faerie world.

Also, CAN WE TALK ABOUT THAT PLOT-TWIST? I really hope Black brings out a novella in Cardan’s POV like she did with Jude’s sister. I would love to read more about him and get into his head now that his character has peaked my interest.

Even though I think morally-grey characters are interesting, I do think they can be overdone now that every YA fantasy author is including those types of characters within their stories. Black manages to keep her characters away from the cliche and the way she writes her characters is interesting and refreshing, which I think she deserves credit for.

“I hate you," I breathed into his mouth. 
"I hate you so much that sometimes I can't think of anything else.” 

In the end, the combination between characters, plot, romance and the intricately build universe made this a solid 5 star read for me. I'm glad I didn't end up reading the ARC because I can't imagine having to wait more than a year until the release of Queen of Nothing. Seems that I finally understand the hype when it comes to these books!

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