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Book Review of the Wicked King by Holly Black: As Good as the First One, if Not Better

The Wicked King
Series: The Folk of the Air #2
Author: Holly Black
Genre: Fantasy, romance, young adult, faeries
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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.

my review

This review contains spoilers.

Okay, so I am grateful for the fact that 1), my OTP officially married, and 2) no one I care about died.

I want to get this out of the way because I remember during 2018 those who managed to get an earlier copy of the book had been basically taunting and warning everyone else of how “the ending is going to kill us”.

I hope you can imagine why this would kind of…like, make me absolutely terrified for my life and psychological health.

Nothing catastrophic-to-the-end-of-the-world-level happened (thank god), but that doesn’t mean Holly Black definitely gave us a pretty shocking twist.

Black did many things that really praised worthy in this book. I love how this book focused a little bit more on Cardan’s character development, and how she decided to do it one at a time and not at once for both Cardan and Jude, making the pace less rushed. However, I think Holly should keep in mind that Jude is our main character, and while it is a really good thing to have Cardan have his character arc, I think this book’s events was a great catalyst for Jude’s change in behavior, and I just hope she would actually do that. Jude does need to realize that no, “murder is not always the answer”.

Cardan’s softer side just makes me melt. Is it just me, or when a real douchey character start to change his or her character and actually acts likable, that’s the best thing ever and just makes me love the character so much more? Cardan actually showing some care in the world and caring enough to be a better, capable king is a phenomenal turning point in his character arc.

I’m really sad with how Taryn turned out though. I really want to give her a chance because she is Jude’s twin sister, and I know that Jude cares about her, so if Taryn acts better in this book, I would give her a second chance. I want Jude to be happy, and Taryn being a better sister could definitely do that. But she just has to…do it again. Betray their trust, pretend to be Jude, I think Holly would “redeem” her in the next book by saying that she did it to “rescue Jude from Cardan”, but Taryn is dead to me. She first decides to love a guy who believes that he needed to test her love by dating her twin sister, and now planning a full-on revolt with Madoc against Cardan and using Jude in the process.

The Wicked King continued to refill me with the things I loved from the first book – twist, betrayal, politics, and Cardan – which is why I enjoyed the sequel just as much, if not more. This is the reason why I enjoyed it so much. None of the twists seems too overdone or overly dramatic, and despite its fantastical vibes, the obstacles and storyline are surprisingly understandable and extremely enjoyable. I am so excited for The Queen of Nothing and to see how Jude’s epic return would be, as well as how the story would evolve in general!


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.

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