The Wicked King by Holly Black

Posted March 31, 2019 by Brin in Reviews / 2 Comments

The Wicked King by Holly BlackThe Wicked King by Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #2
on January 8, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 322
Format: Hardcover
Source: I Bought It

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.

Jude 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 biddable. 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 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.

Reading Challenges: Monthly Motif 2019, New Release 2019


To say I was excited for this book would be a gross understatement. All I could think about since reading The Cruel Prince in January last year was this how much I wanted to read The Wicked King. Was it worth the wait? Hell yes!

my review of The Wicked King

Now, I read this immediately upon its release in January but I wanted to re-read it again before posting my thoughts on it. Firstly, because I was still too over-excited and overwhelmed originally (it was definitely still too raw – especially my feelings on THAT ending – but more on that later!) Secondly, because it was definitely worth a second read to see if I loved it as much as it did the first time round (I’ll give you a hint: yes, yes I most certainly did). 😉

The Wicked King was my most anticipated release of 2019 (well, along with Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell, but originally that was tipped for a 2020 release so I’m still going to claim The Wicked King as my most looked-forward-to read of 2019).

I have been waiting (im)patiently for over a year so it had a lot to live up to. If I’m being totally honest, it didn’t entirely live up to my sky-high expectations (Jude and Cardan didn’t spend nearly enough time together) but it was still pretty damn impressive, especially for the dreaded middle-book syndrome. The plot did move very slowly and took a while to get going but when it done… well, I’m just going to say damn you Holly Black but you know how to deliver a gut-punch (or two!)

I’m not going to spend too much time on the plot, suffice it to say it was mostly Jude trying to hold on to power and not always succeeding. Goddamn though, but Jude is a bold one. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a main character quite as much as I love Jude. I don’t always like her necessarily, but I very much admire her grit and determination. It’s like watching a train wreck observing her navigating through all the political machinations – you just can’t look away.

the wicked king quote

Cardan. Oh Cardan. I love him. But I hate him. But I love him. Then I hate him again. It’s complicated.

Seriously, I can see why he keeps Jude on her toes at all times. You just don’t know what he is up to. You start to soften up a bit towards him and then… well, and then! I don’t want to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t read this yet but goddamn. I was not expecting a certain plot twist and I’m still not sure how I feel about it (or how I feel about Cardan anymore).

There is a big side of me that just wants Jude to turn her back on Faerie forever and just live her best life in the mortal world with Vivi and Oak. But then, I want her to get her revenge too… I’m so conflicted!! This is part of the reason why I couldn’t review this book right away – I was bloody mad as hell at the ending. I still am but I have a bit of perspective back – although this review is turning into a bit of a rant… oh well!!

Holly Black certainly knows how to write a messed-up and enthralling tale. I just can’t get enough of this world (and the characters). Even the awful ones (okay, maybe especially the awful ones!) No one is truly good or innocent (okay maybe little Oak… oh, and Vivi’s girlfriend Heather) but they are definitely super-intriguing and somehow relatable despite their massive… ahem… mess-ups (totally had another word in mind there). 😉

Jude is my home girl. I’m still not entirely convinced that her rise (and fall) is one of villainy or not… but still, I am 100% on her side. Always. Cardan is on a time-out just now… we’ll see if he can redeem himself or not in the next book.

to sum up

Overall, this book was absolutely amazing. There were a couple of issues I had with it but it still deserves a full 5/5 stars from me. It ticked all my boxes (I am still a sucker for that ‘enemies to lovers’ trope!) and I cannot wait for The Queen of Nothing. Bonus points for the Yuri on Ice mention in the epilogue too!

trends divider

for more of my reviews, click the below link:

book reviews


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2 responses to “The Wicked King by Holly Black

  1. Great review! To add to your love/hate/love/hate relationship with Cardan, I think it is great that he pulled one over on Jude because now they are equals and I hope that means we can get more of them together … like actually together together, as equals on the same footing! I think they will be glorious!

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