Review | The Wicked King by Holly Black

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.

After the way that The Cruel Prince ended, I was very happy with my decision to wait to read the series until all of the books were out. I started The Wicked King moments after finishing the first book, and promptly spend the rest of the day reading.

I loved the court intrigue and drama in The Cruel Prince, and the stakes were significantly higher in The Wicked King. The story was filled with spies, secrets, political maneuverings and manipulation — I couldn’t wait to see what power plays were made, and while I predicted some of the twists, I was still surprised by the ending.

The relationship between Cardan and Jude was slow-burn and filled with banter and tension. Both of these characters are unlikeable-yet-compelling, and they toe the line between enemies and lovers (rather than the clear-cut enemies-to-lovers that you typically see). I was expecting more cruelty from Cardan’s end based on the synopsis, but the payoff more than made up for that.

While the secondary characters weren’t as well-developed as I’d have liked, I still found them fascinating. Madoc, in particular, remained sympathetic in the aftermath of Jude’s betrayal – the mixture of wounded pride, the desire for vengeance, and pride in his “step-daughter’s” political maneuverings made for some very interesting character interactions.

Overall, The Wicked King took everything I liked about The Cruel Prince and amplified it. It was a compelling read filled with twists and turns, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

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