The Wicked King by Holly Black
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Page Count: 336
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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.
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”
As I sit down to write my review, I know one undeniable truth: I have not survived reading the sequel. So from this point on, I do no forgive Holly for the emotional torment she has caused. The Wicked King surpasses my wildest expectations. And with each passing edition in this twisted series, I’ll make a deal with a faerie so I can go back to Elfhame.
The Folk of the Air is an addicting series to travel into. Each sentence crafted in such a way, along with characters’ decisions and actions, will make you suspect and challenge the next scene. And it has morphed into one of my all-time favourites. I never thought I’d demand a book to dominate my time. I truly pushed back finishing it quicker because I didn’t want to be forced back to the mortal realm.
One aspect I genuinely adore is how dark Holly takes her series. She reveals each element of her world and doesn’t care about any trivial thoughts on if the readers will take offence or be ashamed in enjoying this savage world. She has given us a better understanding of court politics and intrigue. How calculated move Jude takes will either set her back or destroy her scheming. I am so enrapt with the level of precision and detail Holly has put into this sequel.
Since Jude has gained control over the newly crowned High King, Cardan, she knows she must keep Oak, the next in line, safe from Faerie. But many sides now look to steal the crown from both of them. Her development builds up gradually throughout the novel. But her strategizing is what sets her apart from other female main characters though. I can only hope ever to achieve that level of badassery.
Cardan revels in his debaucheries as Jude schemes from behind the throne. But he stops at nothing to thwart her every step. They both can’t deny the sexual tension between them though. And that plays with their forced relationship they’ve built over the last few months. I cackled every time Cardan and Jude opposed one another. I couldn’t get over how their conflict has turned from hatred to passion.
Treachery and deceit are like fine wine or currency to the faerie. And each character feels the need to one-up the other. And while the Wicked King centres more around the plot, it also explores more characters and their convictions. Even though I hate most of Jude’s family and the way Cardan has turned out, I see why these characters have turned out this way. But what surprises me the most is how Holly has more world building to offer. Each step in another direction of Elfhame is new, wild, and exhilarating.
If I haven’t convinced you to pick up the Folk of the Air series, I don’t know what will. But what should is the deceit, lying, scheming, warped love, and political intrigue. Drop whatever book you’ve started reading, and start with this series. Just don’t expect to come back the same way you went in.
“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”