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Title: The Wicked King (#2 The Folk of the Air)
Author: Holly Black
Published: 22nd of August 2019 – Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback – 322 pages
““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.”” – The Wicked King
Hello Hello! How are you?
I have another fairly calm week and I’m really looking forward to half-term break next week (this week can’t go by fast enough)! I thought that I would post my review of The Wicked King by Holly Black that has been gathering dust in my computer. I’m really glad I got the review up for this book, so keep on reading for my thoughts on this second book in the series.
Disclaimer: There are potentially going to be spoilers for The Cruel Prince as this is the second book in the series, so if you want to read it and don’t want to be spoiled, you can check out my review of The Cruel Prince instead!
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 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.
The Wicked King by Holly Black is the second book in The Folk of the Air trilogy which is a young adult fantasy/fae series. I read the first book, The Cruel Prince, in January and I quite liked it, but I didn’t get the hype, it the kind of book that I enjoyed reading but put down feeling like there were things missing. You can read my review of it here if you are interested. I participated in the Trope-ical Readathon in August and I decided to use this book for the “enemies to lovers/friends” trope.
This book is set in Elfhame, the fae world that we first discovered in The Cruel Prince. I felt that this world wasn’t really described much in the first instalment, but funnily enough, I got a much better sense of it this time, especially in the castle and in the sea. I know that sounds strange, you’ll have to read it to find out.
This world is a strange world with fae, deception, war, murder, it’s a great fantasy setting, and I have to say that the actual world-building goes hand in hand with the character development, I liked both of these elements better in this second book than I had in the previous one, and I didn’t need to look at the map at all this time, whereas I had been checking the map a lot while reading book 1.
This is obviously a world of deception, betrayal, secrets and court intrigue, we get a much better sense of the royal court in this book, I can’t really say why if you haven’t read The Cruel Prince, but where that was more of a familial and personal intrigue, it really is a much bigger picture in The Wicked King, and as a fantasy lover with an interest in politics and war in books, I loved these elements.
Jude: Jude is still the main character of this book, I’m more used to dual POVs in fantasy books, so this isn’t what I’m used to, but I did enjoy only having her POV. I didn’t love her that much in the first instalment in this series, but I think she grew on me a little bit in this book, I think she has a lot of personal issues that are touched on a bit and it was nice to have a vulnerable and sensitive character in fantasy. I think she has a lot of guts, and a lot of things happened in this book that I’m still not even able to understand because it took me by surprise, but I’m hoping to really enjoy book 3, I can’t believe it’s nearly over!
Cardan: Well, well, well, I thought Cardan was a total bastard (excuse my French) in The Cruel Prince, and he is still kind of one, but we get a lot of insight into him in this book. I think that the ignorant, snide, cruel side to him is inherently Fae, a lot of Fae are like this, but he is also more than that, he is also sensitive, and he has feelings and we got some of those here. Both these characters are still dancing around one another and I just want them to get on with it already, but there is so much angst, so if you like that in books, go for this series! I want to learn more about Cardan, there are definitely things he is hiding and I need to know what.
There are other characters in this book, but honestly, it focused so much on these two characters that I don’t remember that much about the others. There is Nicasia, I still don’t like her and with good reason, then there is the Court of Shadows with the various spies, I still love the Bomb, she is so tough and always has Jude’s back.
There is also Balekin and Cardan’s mum, it was interesting having a bit more insight into these characters. And finally, Jude’s family who we see a lot less of than we did in book 1. I liked some of these characters and of course, they are important, but Jude and Cardan are the show of The Wicked King.
Royalty/reigning the court behind false pretences: I love royalty in books, there are so many different ways to do it, and the royal system in each world is very fascinating to me. We don’t get a massive amount of royalty in this book, you’ll know why if you’ve read The Cruel Prince already, but there is definitely the false pretences side to this story. I can’t say much more because it’s a massive spoiler, but this was quite interesting and to see how Jude and Cardan are together in front of the court made me want to scream at them. This plot was just getting good and then something even better and more surprising happened, so I’ll have to pick up The Queen of Nothing really soon.
Betrayal/deception: I wouldn’t be a fantasy lover if I didn’t like a touch of betrayal and deception once in a while, there is heaps and heaps of it in this book. If this is not something you like to read about, then I would urge you to stay away as it’s quite prominent. I for one, like a bit of shock-factor betrayal, and I never expected this book to end the way it did, I felt like I was just getting to know the motives and personalities of some of the characters and then they turned around and were not who I was expecting. It wouldn’t be a Fae book if not for this element, would it?
War and politics: Yay, war and politics is also a great aspect in fantasy books, there isn’t a massive amount of these two in here, but there is a bit and it hints at there being much more in book 3. This whole world is very politically-orientated, it’s not the most complex system, but it’s enjoyable to learn about it. Again, I can’t go into detail, but if you like these elements, you’ll get a bit of intrigue and complexity anyways.
A touch of romance but barely (when is the Jude-Cardan love happening?): This is one of the most frustrating themes I’ve ever had to talk about on my blog I think. if you’ve been on book Twitter or Instagram in YA fantasy circles even for a minute, you know about the Jude-Cardan ship, for some it’s their favourite, and I’m sorry to say, but WHERE??? Like, I get it, but I also don’t because it’s so invisible and unexplained that I have no idea where this romantic plot is going. I was expecting this book to be a lot like the ACOTAR series if I’m honest, and I wanted to pick it up because of that, I thought it was going to have a big romantic side-plot, and I honestly haven’t seen that yet. There are developments in this book that I was loving, but then it got totally flipped on the head and now I have no idea, so I obviously need all of the romance in book 3, otherwise, I really don’t get it.
Fae are a dark and wicked bunch: I love dark stories and morally grey characters. If you do too, this book series is for you. The Fae in this book are Cruel, with a capital C, they are vile and disgusting, and awful, and very dark and bad, but I love it. I went into a lot of detail on this point in my review of The Cruel Prince, but again, it needs to be mentioned. ACOTAR took me by surprise because beyond the first book, there isn’t such an awful side to the Fae, I think they are totally different to the ones here, which are more of the traditional Fae you see in books. They are awful just for the sake of it, and again, if you don’t like reading about these themes, then I would stay away as it’s just vile upon vile with some horrible and cruel chucked in, and I just want more!
Trigger Warnings: betrayal, attempted murder, death, kidnap, war, fighting, gore, blood, poisoning, torture, verbal cruelty.
“You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.” – The Wicked King
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, I enjoyed The Wicked King more than The Cruel Prince. I think when I first heard about this series and saw all the hype surrounding it, I was pulled in because I was expecting something like ACOTAR (which is one of my favourite series), but it’s really not that and I think that book 1 disappointed me a fair bit. I’m still a little disappointed because I don’t seem to see why there is so much hype and adoration of Jude and Cardan, but I’m kind of understanding a little bit. I think I see where it’s going, and I hope that it will be a good finale.
The writing style is really good, I haven’t anything to say about that, the pacing is great and I just basically have issues with the characters and the fact that it’s not what I was hoping. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, but it’s still not all *that*. I’m the first to fall in love with a new fantasy series, but unfortunately, it has left me wanting to know more. Jude and Cardan are intriguing characters and I was really not expecting some of those plot twists, Holly Black definitely knows how to shock her reader when they are least expecting it, I shut this book with my jaw on the floor almost!
I gave this book 4 stars, it’s good, I like it, I’m enjoying it, but I want more and I don’t get the Jude-Cardan ship as it still feels a bit like a joke to me, I was expecting full-blown romance, and it’s a lot more angsty and will-he-won’t-he, to the point that I want to scream at them a little bit. It’s not my favourite series by any means, but I’m hoping to enjoy the final instalment and I’m a bit worried because it’s fairly short, I have a lot of questions and I don’t know how it’s going to be wrapped up, but I do think I will enjoy it. I would recommend this book if you like fantasy with cruel fae, betrayal, royalty and a lot of angst!
“And the single last thing in my head: that I like him better than I’ve ever liked anyone and that of all the things he’s ever done to me, making me like him so much is by far the worst.” – The Wicked King
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,
Atmosphere – 6
Start – 5
Pacing – 7
Ending – 7
Characters – 6.5
Theme – 5.5
Style – 6.5
Total = 43.5
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK – Amazon FR – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Kobo