The Wicked King. Holly Black. Young adult/Fantasy. 2019. 336 pages. 5 stars.
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.
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.
“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.”
Holly Black returns with one of the most anticipated releases of 2019 with The Wicked King. Jude tries to stay at par with the Faerie as a mortal by running the kingdom through Cardan. Its sequel doesn’t fail to deliver sizzling slow burns and gasp-inducing revelations that proved Holly Black is the most clever of us all.
After The Cruel Prince, it set up a lot for its sequel and most–if not all–of us have high expectations with ARCs being released a year prior to its publication date. Many bloggers who had early access to the story vouched for its glory, adding more to the hype of this Faerie-centered story.
Going into it, the writing proved that the universe is well developed. I had no trouble accepting that toads are as noble as steeds, revelries are more treacherous than Cardan’s wildest dreams, and that the sea is just as fascinating as the land. Readers are exposed to Orlagh’s sea kingdom as well as the mortal world in The Wicked King. It provides diversity in settings as well as its characters’ appearances.
The story goes full throttle into a darker path with the political intrigue. Cardan learns to love being High King and acquires some skills from Jude and her Court of Shadows. Readers can expect more interaction between the sworn enemies as they realize maybe their feelings are starting to take over. They venture into what seems like trust and push it to an entirely new level that will knock your socks off. A lot of characters show development (whether it’s for better or for worse, you decide) and it’s a book full of schemes, twists, and turns–literally.
“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”
I fully recommend reading The Wicked King immediately. I loved every second of reading it. In fact, I’m thinking about rereading this series all over again! For those who have not even picked up The Cruel Prince, please do so. You will have no regrets. You can trust me because I cannot lie, at least not where this series is concerned. 5 stars. What a great way to start my 2019!
Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare), The Darkest Part of the Forest, and her new series which begins with The Cruel Prince in January 2018.
She has been a a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.