Remember when I read The Cruel Prince last year? And wrote a review about how this amazing book lived up to the hype and how much I just loved The Cruel Prince? Well, now is the time to
gush over review Holly Black’s stunning new sequel, The Wicked King.
I feel like almost everyone in the book community received an ARC of this book… except for yours truly. But loss of an arc never stopped me! Did I read the book on release day? No, because amazon doesn’t know how to deliver me my books on release day. Ergh. But I did read it all in one day. And preceded to gasp and scream at the end. (WHY do I have to wait a FULL year for the next book?)
Now, I’m excited to review this very fun book! This review will contain spoilers for The Cruel Prince, but is spoiler free for The Wicked King. I tried hard.
Remember where The Cruel Prince left off? Jude had plotted and planned and schemed and all her work paid off. Cardan was now the High King of Faerie, sworn to obey Jude’s every command for a year and a day. Jude is now the power behind the throne, determined to keep the throne secure for her little stepbrother.
Only problem? In scheming to get the throne, Jude tricked her Fairie stepfather, Madoc, who also happens to be the general of Faerie. And Jude’s twin sister is engaged to the lying trickster faerie, Locke. Fun times.
The Wicked King starts five months after the end of the Cruel Prince, and I actually really liked how the plot worked this way. We weren’t bogged down describing those first few chaotic days after Cardan took the throne. And of course, it’s pretty quickly evident that Jude is frazzled and constantly surrounded by enemies.. But I mean, she’s a mortal in a faerie world, of course things are not going so splendidly for her.
This book really explored how Jude’s decisions impacted her relationships with her family. Vivi will never understand why Jude chooses faerie when she can have a safe, normal life in the mortal world. Tayrn is still clinging to Locke, and Jude can barely tolerate him, so that’s fun. And of course, my favorite murdering stepfather, Madoc.
Why do I love Madoc so much? I don’t know, I just do. Everyone needs a stepdad who totally killed your parents, adopted you, and taught you how to play faerie strategy chess. Right?
From the very first few pages, you realize what’s going to be Jude’s problem this book – holding unto her power. I mean, it’s not easy. She’s constantly warned by the old king’s advisor, Madoc, her sister, and her enemies, that she is in a super precarious position.
And while I disagreed with some of Jude’s choices, she does a super good job of playing the game of thrones. (okay, yeah, that’s a reference to a totally different series. But I think it totally applies!)
I will say this about both the Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. The writing is fun and engaging, and the descriptions are easy to fall into. But the plot, the characters are they exactly new? As in, Cardan, our wicked prince, is very similar to a lot of bad boy tropes.
Cardan has had a horrible childhood and a very cruel family. To some extent, I think knowing this played against Jude’s emotions. She wants to hate him, but finds himself falling for him. And still hating him.
I just don’t think I can ever get behind a true Cardan/Jude pairing. No matter what happens with the story, these two are toxic for each other. They constantly devise ways to emotionally hurt each other. I think they need therapy and should never, ever date.
Do I think the author is going to do that with these two? Nope. Reading the story, the two are paired, in a feisty, fun hate to love relationship.
But I still think they’re very, very toxic.
Now, I’ll probably always contest that Cardan feels very tropey. But Jude, Jude doesn’t feel like a trope at all. Which is part of the reason why I love these books!
Jude is the Slytherin queen we don’t deserve. She isn’t afraid to know what she wants and go out and just get out. I love how she’s written on page, full of rage and sarcasm and violence.
One of my favorite things about both The Cruel Prince and The Wicked Prince is how the story doesn’t just tell me that Jude is a badass. It shows her fighting skills. She spies and duels and threatens and kills. When she’s in actual danger, she’s openly vulnerable and when she’s in command, she terrifying.
Jude is one of the best written YA heroines I have ever read.
Despite how much I loved this book, I will say, it wasn’t as completely magical as the Cruel Prince. I think it’s because we were already familiar with the world of faerie. It didn’t feel as though I were falling in head first. The writing was just as engaging, but it just missed that entrancing touch.
And I was disappointed that the Undersea narrative wasn’t more developed. Yes, the conflict between the Undersea and the Court of Elfhame was a major narrative. But I felt like it was very rushed. It’s like the Undersea was just a subplot to the overall Jude/Cardan story. That was disappointing, because I felt like the Undersea could be such a compelling story. And when I’m talking about the enchanting aspect that I missed, I felt like it really could have been built into the Undersea story.
Of course, there were several major twists along the way, especially in the last few chapters. the ending made me rant and rave at a certain character. I cannot wait for Queen of Nothing. Maybe someone will send me an ARC for this next book? please?
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.
Have you read The Wicked King? Are you in love with Jude? or a fan of Cardan and Jude? Who do you hate more – Nicasia or Locke or Taryn?