TITLE: The Wicked King
AUTHOR: Holly Black
SERIES: The Folk of the Air, #2
RELEASES: January 8th, 2019; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
AGE RANGE: YA
After the shocking turn of events that finished off The Cruel Prince, Jude is fighting with everything she’s got to keep the kingdom of Elfhame from falling to pieces under its new rulers. Unfortunately for Jude, not only is a war brewing in the Undersea, but the court is full of traitors—and a few of them might be in her own home.
I loved The Cruel Prince, but I wasn’t one hundred percent sold on certain factors—yet, from the moment I finished reading it, I’ve been saying the same thing: “Everything I struggled with in book 1, I know will be better in book 2.” Was I right? Let me put it this way: you know the “second book slump” people always refer to in trilogies? NOT AN ISSUE HERE. Everything that The Cruel Prince does well, The Wicked King does PERFECTLY.
I’ve wanted this and feared it, and now that it’s happening, I don’t know how I will ever want anything else.
First, without spoiling anything, let’s get this out of the way: the weird, hateful, hot-and-cold relationship between Jude and Cardan progresses flawlessly, and by that I mean I cheered, I raged, I cried, I swooned, I blushed, I raged some more… it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen enemies-to-lovers done quite like this, because at all times, they’re kind of… both? Let me tell you, the phrase “I hate you” has never been this sexy.
My body has acclimated, and now it craves what it should revile.
And Jude, my gods, JUDE. She is a masterpiece. I love her so much. She’s coldhearted, cruel, murderous, backstabbing, and a total antihero in all the best ways. She’s earned herself a permanent place on my favorite “terrifying leading ladies I love” list. She’s also so clever and strong; despite being betrayed at every possible turn, she manages to constantly work things to her favor—or, at the very least, to take someone else down with her as brilliantly as possible.
“The last room Cardan occupied caught fire. Let me rephrase. It caught fire because he lit it on fire.”
Also, Holly Black’s writing is just legitimately so funny, I can’t even describe. It’s incredibly rare that a book makes me laugh out loud, but I cracked up over so many weird and ridiculous moments—usually pertaining to Cardan’s absolute lack of any common decency and/or sense.
Angry was better than being scared. Better than remembering she was a mortal among monsters.
Finally, of course, there’s the world. I adore Holly’s commitment to writing a version of Faerieland that follows legitimate fae lore, and just like in the first book, that authenticity comes through effortlessly. All the world-building and political complexity she offered in the first book paid off so well in this sequel.
That 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.
Literally the only thing I didn’t like about The Wicked King is the fact that I have over a year to wait before finding out what the hell is going on with this terrible, infuriating, priceless cliffhanger ending. I mean, take the way Jude feels about Cardan, and that’s basically me towards Holly Black right now, except replace the “burning carnal desire” with “desperate need to find out how it all ends, right NOW”.
In all seriousness, The Wicked King was literal perfection in my eyes and I would not change a single thing. I flew through it, I loved every page, I highlighted so many quotes I can’t even fit a quarter of them in this review, and I don’t know if I have ever felt so simultaneously torn and obsessed with any pairing as I am over Jude and Cardan.
Oh, and one more thing: TARYN STILL AIN’T SHIT.
Everyone. Just… literally everyone.
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to a very sweet (and unnamed) friend for loaning me their ARC!
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