Series: The Folk of the Air #2
Published by Hot Key Books on January 8, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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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 review contains minor spoilers for the first book, The Cruel Prince. Read the review for the first book here.
It’s always hard to review such a hyped up series, especially one that you loved so much that you don’t have the appropriate vocabulary to describe your thoughts and emotions. But I’m definitely going to try and convey how it felt reading The Wicked King, and whether it lives up to the hype of the first book.
Following on from the first book, we see Jude struggling to maintain her hold on Cardan, while proving to the rest of the fae that her role as his senechal or right hand general is not for show. Now that Jude has made her move, and is arguably one of the most powerful people in the fae kingdom, there are many other forces at play that she won’t see coming. As we all know, once you get to the top, it’s even harder to stay there, especially as a human amongst fae. The deep political intrigue, treachery and scheming continues in this installment. The plot contains so many twists and turns that you won’t see coming, and it’s an exhilarating experience.
Whatever you do to me…I can do worse to you.
Cardan and Jude are as intoxicating as ever, being one of the most complex love-to-hate relationships of all time. While there’s undeniable chemistry and sexual tension between the two, I still have trouble getting on board this relationship because of how it romanticises abuse from the first book. In fact, the two pretty much want to kill each other and kiss each other at the same time, while maneuvering themselves into positions of power over the other, and it’s kind of disturbing to witness.
The cover hints at an underwater slant to the plot, and I really enjoyed the sideplot when it came to the Undersea and their treaty with Elfhame. It’s always interesting to hear more about this unpredictable world of the fae, with the ongoing power struggle when it comes to the throne. The new side characters were also fascinating, with Nicasia’s history with Cardan and Queen Orlagh as the ruler of the Undersea.
I enjoyed witnessing the aftermath to everything that Jude had done in The Cruel Prince, and how she navigates these relationships which have now changed forever. I was annoyed at the screen time that Taryn received in this book, but I loved the parts with her and Madoc and their complex father-daughter relationship.
Although it’s not as good as the first book, I devoured The Wicked King in one sitting, swept up in Holly Black’s addictive writing in this tale filled with treachery and political intrigue in a fae world. Reading this series is like watching a game of chess – you never know who will be ready to take your place, and sometimes you’ll never see them coming. That’s certainly the case for this book – and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next one!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me a review copy.
The Wicked King is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99 or from The Book Depository.
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I find it pretty disturbing how the YA bookish community is shipping Cardan and Jude so much when we constantly say not to romanticise abusive relationships. Somehow this story doesn’t apply, which is classic YA community. If you like something then the problematic side of it means nothing.
Anyway. I do quite enjoy this series because I like books that focus on royalty and politics, which this does! I also think it’s an interesting take on faeries that we haven’t really seen before. Also, it just makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
I’m keen for the last book after the ending of this one. I wonder what Jude will do…
Great review, Jeann!
Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…Books I’m Scared to Re-Read
Yeah, I’m hearing you about the toxic masculinity and abusive relationship here – no one wants to recognise that it’s problematic because it’s such a hyped book. I love the fae lore in this one though. Thanks lovely!
Hulllo!! You are writing reviews with a baby? Thats just WOW. I have been meaning to read both of Holly Black’s books. I’d be sure to keep the hype a bit down while reading the second book
Resh recently posted…A dear reader doc, some unfinished business
Haha alot of these are prescheduled reviews, but I’m trying to when I get a chance (not much of a chance at the moment!)
I really enjoyed this second installment of the series… I feel like there’s been so much set up that they’ll be a lot to get through in Queen of Nothing! The Wicked King definitely set up so many tangled threads to be sorted out…
Kelly @ Wandering Through Books recently posted…January Wrap-Up
There was definitely a lot of set up in this book, I felt like there was a lot of political intrigue built up here as well!
I agree with your review, Jeann. I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the first one. For me it was a more static plot, the pacing felt off in places, I guess.
Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy recently posted…What’s On My Plate – February 2019
Yeah, I think it was more of a middle book with lots building for the next installment!
I loooove this book so much omg. The world is just stunning and the plot line is so intricately twisted, GAH THE BEST. I think everyone is toxic though? I think that’s kind of the point. I like reading Jude/Cardan but yeah, holy heck, I could never trust them together so I don’t think I “ship it” per se, unless they….um…start being honest and get some therapy. Like a lot of it. I feel like it’s going to end super badly for one of them in bk 3 so like GAH I’M NOT READY. (I want Jude on the throne tbh…. after she gets a nap. She was SO tired in this book.)
I KNOW! Jude felt like she was really floundering here, but yes haha Jude and Cardan are so problematic (but for some reason I can’t look away?!)