The Wicked King Book Review
Well well well, wasn’t this book SUCH A SURPRISE. I’m still pretty annoyed – you know what, no, I’m still pissed, cause this book tricked me to no end like a real evil faerie actually would.
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.
“Power is the ability to get what you want. Power is the ability to be the one making the decisions. And how do we get power?” …
“We get power by taking it.”
– Holly Black
I read The Cruel Prince way back when it first came out in January 2018 cause I got it in my very first and last FairyLoot box that I quite literally fought for online
and sacrificed an arm and leg for to buy it. I thought it was pretty good, quite enjoyable but unfortunately not all I felt it was hyped up to be at the time in the book community.
Flashback to the more recent past, I see The Wicked King’s gorgeous cover online everywhere before it’s released and I also see mixed reviews for it, so naturally, I became more intrigued but at the time, purely wanted this book for its cover so I got it! (well, my SO was the MVP and found it at a Target for me ~ if you’re reading this, tysm for the pretty book <3)
I initially was going to reread The Cruel Prince before this one because I hardly remembered any of it but ended up doing it the lazy way and reading the synopsis/summary online. Anyway – I GOT TO IT, and it was a #noregrets kind of moment when I finally got to the end of this beauty.
Alright, Enough Babble ~ It’s REVIEW TIME!
Colour me really surprised by how much I enjoyed this read! This book was literally a power struggle put into words and drawn out to 300 pages with schemes and violence woven in and I was all for it.
Holly Black dives us right into this fae world with a small time jump to 4-5 months in from the end of The Cruel Prince (SPOILERS for The Cruel Prince – Beware – but like you should KNOW that. This is a SEQUEL.) where good old evil Cardan fae Prince now turned Fae King is under the command of our protagonist Jude, the mortal who lives with her parents’ murderer with her twin sister. Her decision for all this was to make sure that no other evil fae (Cardan’s brothers & co.) assume their rule and instead so her little half-brother Oak can eventually rule when he comes of age or whatever, after he’s experienced a somewhat normal life in the human world under the tutelage of her half-sister and her girlfriend (woo that was a long sentence, my editing tutor would hate me for this. I swear I’m no writer okay). However, Jude only has Cardan under her command for a year and a day, and it’s almost halfway done.
This book showcases so many well-written obstacles that Jude must weave through including political alliances, trying to keep Cardan in check, trying to figure out her feelings and most of all trying to retain her power in this complicated fae world whilst keeping herself alive. It is clearly quite a hard life to live in the fae world as a mortal as one would remember from the first book and especially so in this sequel because even though Jude has grown significantly, it seems almost useless in some ways. The fae characters are nearly always stronger, faster and smarter, especially with their words since they cannot lie. I personally thought a mere 4-5 months showed huge growth in Jude’s character development, showing how much she’s adapted to her role of the king’s seneschal, not just physically but mentally as well. All these obstacles were slightly stressing me out as I read them, and that’s generally a good sign of novel writing – I actually kind of cared and it affected me emotionally. (Why else did I want to throw this book at my wall when I finished it, I wonder…)
I have to say that all the underlying concepts and the strategy used in this book were so well planned. The plot twists quite literally came out of nowhere, the tension and suspense were built up ever so precisely (aka *truffles’ stress levels rising*), so when THAT ending happened. Oof. O O F. If anyone is ever struggling to get through this book, I just recommend powering through it to the end because those last 50 – no, 30 pages changes everything. Holly Black infuriated me to no end, and I can’t explain how much that changed my attitude towards this book.
Something I found so enjoyable about this book is that it’s weirdly similar to having an unreliable narrator except that it’s everything but the narrator that’s constantly unreliable. You never know what’s going to happen next, because anything can suddenly show up and humiliate, try to kill, undermine, thwart Jude’s plans or more at any given moment.
Holly’s writing was easy to read, as always, and the short chapters made my slumping self very happy cause I felt like I was reading way more. Her character writing was impeccable, we get to find out more backstories on certain side characters, get to see their development and their changing relationships with Jude and love them, and then get backstabbed by them (I swear that’s not spoiling anything either).
As always, I’ll remain true to my original opinions from a long lost The Cruel Prince mini-review (that I can’t for the life of me be bothered finding but it’s probably on Goodreads) that I will forever and ever, hate Taryn & Cardan. I hate them both equally. This book did not change my mind and I know so many people LOVE Cardan (cause he’s so hot and evil and blah blah) but I prefer nice guys I guess. He’s essentially an
arsehole unapologetically unlikable person and so is Taryn, who deserves nothing but pain. (Again, this is not spoiling anything).
Overall, really enjoyed this book. It slightly stressed me out and got me way too emotionally invested but hey, what else can you ask for these days? Highly recommend this sequel, and I cannot wait for the third book to come out.
What did you think of this book if you’ve read it it? Are you as obsessed with fae-based fantasy worlds as I am?
Until next time,