Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
How do I even begin to articulate what and how this book made me feel?
I feel like I can’t. I will never be able to convey in words precisely what this book did to me. It has been over a week since I finished it and I simply stare at my computer screen and nothing comes to mind because no review I ever give will be good enough for this story. With that being said I am sure you can all assume that I am 1000% giving The Wicked King a 5 star review. I honestly wish I could give this book more stars because it so rightly deserves it. I don’t feel like I encounter that very often so that really shows to me how much this story impacted me.
The Wicked King picks up 5 months after the INCREDIBLE ending of The Cruel Prince. We are thrown right back in to Elfhame where we find Jude still essentially ruling Faerie as a result of her binding Cardan to her, so he must obey every command she gives. There is a lot of political intrigue throughout the story that Jude tries to navigate while also trying to battle her confusing feelings for Cardan. He shows interest in her, but he also still undermines her and tries his best to break the hold she has over him. With all of this going on Jude also has to deal with a threat on her life and those she loves. As a result of this, new political alliances are formed, and some are broken.
Plot wise this story was just as good if not BETTER than The Cruel Prince, which is incredibly hard for a sequel to do but somehow Holly Black is magical and 100% knows her way around enchanting her readers. I can confidently say that I was holding my breath the entire time. Just waiting for the ball to drop. Waiting for a big reveal. Waiting for the plot twist that would blow my mind. IT. DID. NOT. DISSAPOINT.
Character wise I feel like this book was leaps and bounds above The Cruel Prince because we got more IN DEPTH (!) character development and honestly, I was here for it. Jude is still the prickly little thorn that she is but this time it feels like her rose was snapped off and that’s left is the sharp edges. Maybe it’s a result of the ending of The Cruel Prince (which oh my goodness let’s talk about that plot twist because a year later I am still reeling from it) but she trusts absolutely no one in this story and it shows. Jude takes some risks that maybe didn’t need to be taken but honestly, I’m glad that she is help accountable for them and has to pay the price when the time comes (THAT ENDING THOUGH).
Another character that surprised me this time was Cardan! He was so stoic (while also being his bad self) in TCP that I never expected some of the things he said and did in The Wicked King to happen! We really got to see some deeper layers to Cardan and I loved it so much, he’s basically a big onion and each story we get we see a new layer peel back from him. Sometimes I don’t even know how to begin understanding him. He’s playing a game way out of his league, but at the moment I feel like he is about to checkmate his opponent and he is honestly surprising me at every turn. The Queen of Nothing is going to be nuts, I can tell just based off that CRAZY ending that I never saw coming. I also saw a twitter thread where Holly Black was asked at a signing if the way Cardan spoke his words at the end (I don’t want to spoil what happened but just know it was bonkers!) was important and Holly chuckled and said “remember the wording is always important in Faerie” and just, how do I go on. There is no way I will survive another year wait until the last book comes out!
Side character wise: I was honestly a little glad that Taryn and Locke’s wedding was all but a couple pages because both of them need to be removed from this chess board. I dislike both of them with such a fiery passion. Taryn is still a bumbling idiot and her pettiness and jealousy over Jude gets in my way of enjoying the rest of the utter chaos that takes place in this world. Also, if I’m being honest with myself Locke is the worst character. He is manipulative, cruel, and all around a terrible Faerie. Nothing good can possibly come out of his marriage to Taryn, I have this feeling something bad is going to happen in the next book revolving around them. Another character I now severely dislike is The Bomb because (spoiler) holy betrayal! This was just another scene I never saw coming, when we finally find out who betrayed Jude. Maybe her inability to trust anyone actually has some validity. Holly Black seems to have an incredible way of framing and setting up her stories that they always keep me guessing and I can never guess what the ending will entail. I love it. I live for it. I might even reread it soon because I’m already missing the madness of this world and need that excitement back.
Once I finally sat down and was able to actually recall everything I felt during this book I ended up with a much longer review than I initially anticipated. This may be my longest review yet clocking in at just under 1K words! There is nothing else I can say other than I hope you give this series a chance if you haven’t yet, and that if you do that you end up loving it as much as I do!