All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

on January 10, 2019

The Wicked King (The Folk Of The Air #2)
Holly Black
Hot Key Books
2019, 322p
Copy courtesy Allen & Unwin

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

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.

This is my favourite current series.

Last year I read The Cruel Prince not knowing much about it, just knowing that everyone had it on their list of most anticipated for 2018. And I was reading it, thinking okay this is good, this is nice but it’s not super action packed….oh, wait a minute. Things are happening. And they’re happening fast. Okay, that was a ride. It’s been a year since then and when a copy of The Wicked King arrived on my doorstep just before Christmas, I knew there was no waiting until the new year to read it. I had to know what happened next.

And for the most part, The Wicked King follows a somewhat similar pattern. It opens about five months after the conclusion of the previous book, Cardan is ruling Faerie and remains tied to Jude in the bargain she struck with him. His resentment of that bargain is growing and he seeks ways to strain against it just as Jude seeks ways to rein him in. Life in Faerie has been one big party since Cardan’s coronation but soon there are whispers of a threat and Jude has to get the council of advisors to take her seriously, which is much harder than it sounds, given she’s a mortal in an immortal world and she betrayed several of the members including her father figure who wouldn’t mind the throne for himself.

The cat and mouse game between Jude and Cardan is a thing of beauty to read. As much as they seek to one up each other, to gain and hold power, there’s just this fascinating undercurrent running through their every interaction. And I know that these fae are tricky and dismissive of humans and there’s no rainbows and sunshine here but it doesn’t stop me craving more between Cardan and Jude. I love the intrigue, I love the mind games, I love that it’s all just a little bit messed up. I love how it always makes me believe there can be more…….only to burn it down and tear it to shreds in the next chapter.

Jude continues to be fascinating and complex, stretched thinner and thinner as she takes measures to make sure that no one can destroy her, a mortal with so many weaknesses that she must conceal, that she must defeat, in this world. She trains, she observes, she plots and schemes. I really enjoyed her relationship with Madoc. She watched Madoc murder her parents but then he took her with him, back to the land of Faerie and raised her, pretty much raised her in his image. Perhaps of the three, Jude is the most like him, having taken in his lessons on warfare and strategy and outthinking and defeating your opponents. Jude learned well enough to thwart Madoc in the previous book and now their relationship remains fractured as Madoc struggles to reassert his position at Court and he’ll probably throw anyone under the bus to do it, even Jude. But he was also her father figure for many years and I think Jude wants his acknowledgement and approval that she’s clever, that she listened and absorbed. Jude has a brilliant mind, she’s always thinking, always plotting, always trying to be ahead of the Fae knowing that her life and position depend on having power, having control of Cardan and keeping the pieces moving on the board.

The Cruel Prince ends with Jude pulling one on Cardan and for the most part of The Wicked King it sort of seems like Cardan has accepted his fate of a year in Jude’s service albeit reluctantly and with attempts to humiliate her if the opportunity arises. For all the experience of having read the first book, I still didn’t see the end coming here. It’s one of those moments and a testament to Holly Black that she could extract the same reaction from me at the end of this book that she did with The Cruel Prince. It’s one of those books that you race through, devouring greedily and then after it’s done and you’re in a state of shock and awe and frustration that the next one is again a year away, you know you have to go back and re-read it at a slower pace, to absorb everything slower, and more carefully. To read them both together too now, while I await The Queen Of Nothing, a title which makes sooo much sense after finishing this book.

Slayed again.


Book #203 of 2018


One response to “Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

  1. Kay Wisteria says:

    Ahh so glad you enjoyed can’t wait to read!

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