Book review: The Wicked King by Holly Black
Book reviews

The Wicked King – Holly Black

Release date: 8 January 2019
Goodreads link
Book Depository link
5 starsBook 1: The Cruel Prince

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) blurb:

‘I have heard that for mortals, the feeling of falling in love is very like the feeling of fear.’

Jude has tricked Cardan onto the throne, binding him to her for a year and a day. But the new High King does everything in his power to humiliate her, even as his fascination with her remains undimmed.
Meanwhile, a traitor in the court is scheming against her. Jude must fight for her life and the lives of those she loves, and also battle her own complicated feelings for Cardan. Now a year and a day seems like no time at all…

So. I’m pretty sure this book killed me. In fact usually when I LOVE a book so much I smash out the review as soon as I finish reading it, to make sure I capture all the gooey mush that is spewing out of me. However, this book was so good I have only just stopped screaming into the abyss. Yes, FOUR WEEKS LATER my throat is raw, my head is filled with cotton candy and dust, and my nerves are shattered. Oh, and I do NOT want to wait until January 2020 for the final book in this trilogy. I AM DEAD.

The Wicked King picks up about five months after the end of The Cruel Prince. Sh*t is getting real in Faerie. The plotting and underhandedness has only gotten worse (as far as Jude can tell). Her and Cardan are sniping at each other and trying to push the other to see how far they can go (while still making eyes at each other and stealing kisses and occasionally a bit more every so often – OMG that scene in the room behind the throne ?). Madoc is pissed at Jude. Jude is pissed at Taryn. Their family dynamics are insane. The world as they know it is on the brink of chaos. AND I LOVE IT.

Jude is a gorgeous pixie marshmallow with a coat of steel. I just want to hug her and tell her everything is ok. “You can put the sword and the dagger down now Jude. Have a nap. Please have a nap. For the love of fae, take a f*cking nap.” She’s like seventeen and trying to outsmart fae that have probably been alive for hundreds of years. AND SHE’S SO GOOD AT IT (but also terrible). She needs to admit when she needs help. She needs to learn to trust people. But like, not everyone, because some of her peeps are total assholes. However, she’s going to have WAAAAAAAAY more trust issues now. (Just saying.)

Cardan. Cardan. Cardan. You sneaky little dick. (I am smiling when I type this, I love his sneakiness.) The best part is that he’s probably going to be the best king in the history of Faerie. I love how much he just wants Jude to trust him. He does all these little things and it makes my heart sing. But then he goes and does THAT. If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? Go read this immediately. And I like that he’s learning new skills. Pickpocketing is something every king should learn. Also strategy. Maybe some swordplay wouldn’t go astray.

… 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.

I never do this, but I am making an exception right now. I want to talk about Jardan – and it’s getting its own paragraph. Like, they are so cuuuuuuuuute, but also they both have slytherin-y goodness and backstabbing and trust issues (I mean, it’s all with reason, but still). I just want to dress them up incognito and send them to see a movie and have a real date. Popcorn, choctops, candy, drinks, the works. Double feature. They need some alone time without a couple of kingdoms (and their families) breathing down their necks. Have some romance. Be teenagers. Stop stabbing people. (I mean, like, DON’T stop stabbing people. Stabbiness is an excellent trait in this series. You might die without it.) But also hug more, hold hands, kiss, be cute and in love! (Dear Holly Black, could you please just write me a couple of chapters of them going on a date to the movies and being cute? I’d also like it to feature Cardan’s tail. Love, Meeghan x)

As per every other faerie book written by Holly Black, this world intertwines with the others. I really liked that we got an extra bit of Dulcamara and Roiben. There’s even mentions of Severin and Kaye. Also, I have HIGH HOPES FOR CROSSOVERS IN BOOK THREE. See the hidden bit below for these. If you haven’t read Tithe, Valiant, Ironside, The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Wicked King, then maybe don’t read this bit, because SPOILERS… Basically, consider this my ‘what Meeghan thinks/hopes is gonna happen in the next book’.

Thoughts on The Queen of Nothing

OK, this is your LAST CHANCE to turn back now.
You’re still with me? Lovely.
I HOPE that since Jude is now exiled, she will go and find the others who are exiled in the human world. I want Jude to find Ravus and Val and Louis from Valiant. Ravus can teach Jude potions and more swordplay. Also, I made need more hot-troll in my life. (This doesn’t get less weird the more I say it, trust me.) Then Jude needs to hang with Severin, Ben, Hazel and Jake. Hazel has Heartsworn – the blade that can cut through anything. (Don’t forget that Grimsen’s other sword Heartseeker is broken.) AND I hope that this is where Grimsen is hiding. He can make her a crown to match Cardan’s. Which brings me to my final thought. Cardan’s words are VERY specific. Jude must be pardoned by the crown in order to no longer be exiled. I’m pretty sure this means that Jude can pardon herself, but she needs a crown. Remember when Roiben sent Kaye on a quest in Ironside? She couldn’t return until she had figured out a way around the riddle? I think maybe this is Jude’s quest. If she can find Grimsen and get a crown, then she can pardon herself. She just needs to figure that out for herself. Or Cardan thinks he might be trying to protect her. I don’t know. I just want them to be in love and happy and for Cardan to make Jude a faerie. Also Val and Ben and Hazel. WHO DO THE FAERIES KEEP FALLING IN LOVE WITH HUMANS??? They have such tiny life lengths and I want them all to be in love forever. And just fight about stupid things, like whether to cut sandwiches into triangles or squares. (PS: I vote for squares.)

It’s funny, I was thinking about what to write for the plot, and I had this crazy epiphany. It actually half came to me while I was talking to a friend before Wicked King came out, but it’s absolutely solidified for me now. Holly Black has this epic way of setting the story up so that she gives you all this exposition at the start and the reader is all ‘wow, what great background’, but she’s actually setting up the ending of the story. She is telling you how the story will end, RIGHT FROM THE START. And I think that’s part of what makes the books so heartbreaking. Because when you’re reading it at the start you were all ‘naww, sweet baby Jude stories!’, then you’re all ‘OMG THESE TWISTS ARE WTF!!’, and with hindsight, you’re like ‘oh sh*t! OF COURSE it ended that way!’ *starts screaming into the abyss again* Holly Black is a f*cking sorceress (and may we please have some more?)

Until next time, happy reading ?? (unless you’re reading a Holly Black book, in which case, happy screaming ?)


Let's chat!