“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”Holly Black, The Wicked King
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.
Before I start this review I want to make a note. I started writing with the intention of writing a spoiler free review, and that just didn’t work. So, if you haven’t read The Wicked King and you intend on reading it down the road, hold off on reading this review.
There are so many things I’d love to talk about when it comes to The Wicked King. The characters are well crafted and intriguing, the story has been fully fleshed out, and the pacing is perfect.
But, let’s start where the story picks up from The Cruel Prince.
Holly Black opens a few months after everything that transpired with Cardan and the Faerie court and already it’s deliciously intriguing.
Jude is paranoid — naturally — that at any moment someone could attack her or find out her secret with Cardan. This seems to be a central problem throughout the novel as Jude continues to fight to hold on to the power she acquired.
Her paranoia has left her with little sleep and constantly on edge. Some of Cardan’s first words open up the story to Jude’s central issue as he says, “Look at them all, your subjects. A shame not a one knows who their true ruler is.”
However, even as Jude wrestles with Cardan (mentally and physically) to hold control over the court another wrench is thrown into her plan as she begins to develop feelings for Cardan. And let me tell you, I was there for it.
Black does an amazing job of creating a slow burn relationship between Cardan and Jude. Originally I was going to say romance, but let’s be real. They hate each other. There’s nothing romantic about their relationship. The fact that the seem to despise each other yet can’t stay away from each other is a bonus that left me questioning why Jude found herself drawn to Cardan.
In addition to the turmoil of a relationship between Jude and Cardan (is it a relationship? I don’t know), we also see Jude struggling to make amends with her twin sister, Taryn. Taryn is a hopeless mess and quite honestly I hate her.
If you remember correctly, Taryn announces her engagement to Locke in The Cruel Prince. In The Wicked King she remains engaged to Locke, but is so insufferable. Her attempts to make up with and take care of Jude are pathetic to say the least. She remains with Locke and I assume it’s because she believes it will bring her some kind of political power.
In the end, none of it matters because Holly Black just decides to flip everything upside down in the best way possible. As the story comes to a close, we see Jude in a predicament that I don’t think any reader could have seen coming.
Or maybe they did and I’m just blind to the foreshadowing.
Regardless, The Wicked King is a five star read that everyone needs to get their hands on.
Have you read The Wicked King? What did you think? Do you think you’ll read it?