What. The. Hell. What. Just. Happened.
I’m fairly certain Jude wasn’t the only one screaming and confused about the final events of the book, because OMG it was such a roller coaster! I honestly loved the progression of the story here, and there were higher stakes involved. And the romantic tension is ridiculous. As ridiculous as Cardan, who I STILL AM CONFLICTED OVER. Like, one page he’s sexy and cunning and powerful, and literally a page later, he’s CROSSING THAT LINE AGAIN. Ugh. I’m invested now. I need more!
SPOILER ALERT: The Wicked King is the second book of The Folk of the Air trilogy, so there are bound to be spoilers galore of The Cruel Prince.
THE WICKED KING
by Holly Black
Little, Brown, January 2019
YA fantasy, romance
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies
Jude 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 biddable. 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 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.
Where The Cruel Prince sucker-punched me into the world of Elfhame, The Wicked King proceeded to tie me up to a chair and keep me there with the promise of a grand show. Now that the stakes are higher–I mean, Jude is pretty much playing with fire now, considering how much power she’s managed to gain in the background–the story gets even better from here.
It’s been only half a year since Cardan has bound himself to Jude, but she’s running out of time to try to get him bound for longer. On top of that, Jude has to skillfully maneuver her way through politics, Cardan’s antics, and Madoc’s scheming. It’s no wonder the poor girl has had very little sleep, and when she isn’t thinking about all her current problems, she’s too busy thinking about Cardan’s beautiful face.
“I have heard that for mortals, the feeling of falling in love is very like the feeling of fear. Your heart beats fast. Your senses are heightened. You grow light-headed, maybe even dizzy.”
And of course, trust Balekin to come up with the most illuminating observation about Cardan and Jude’s relationship throughout the entire book. And Cardan’s door. His door is the true shipper of all ships in the land of Elfhame.
What I truly enjoyed about this book is that now that introductions of the world and the majority of its players are mostly out of the way, we’re left with the actual story heading towards even more exciting grounds. Cardan is High King of Elfhame, and this poses problems for everyone, including Jude. The Queen of the Undersea wants more power and thinks Cardan can be manipulated into marrying her daughter. Madoc, the Grand General, is still trying to make deals that will give him an advantage–and bring him closer to the High King’s throne. Hell, even Cardan’s living council is trying to gain some sort of power over him. In fact, perhaps even Cardan–now that he’s had a taste of it–is no longer such a stranger to the power he commands. There’s so much happening, yet clear enough that the movement of the action is seamless throughout the book. I never got bored at what was happening within Elfhame, not even when Locke was being abominably annoying.
“It seems I have a singular taste for women who threaten me.”
But the true winner of this entire book is Cardan Greenbriar and his zingers.
“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”
And lovely one-liners.
Dude. Seriously. Even his intimidating voice makes me want to cry with pride that this little non-murder boy is growing up to be quite the formidable High King!
“Go against me, and I will show you what this boy will do, my lady.”
Like, I AM SHOOK.
All the same, I still maintain that I am conflicted over Cardan. It’s like reading this awkward boy tugging at a girl’s pigtails because he likes her and doesn’t want to tell her how he feels. Cardan is exactly this.
Not that Jude is any better with the way she just denies having any feelings for him in the first place.
Kill him before he makes you love him.
And don’t forget:
I wonder what would have happened if I’d admitted he wasn’t out of my system.
Lord, girl, the two of you just need to kiss and make up. Over and over again.
Oh wait. OH WAIT.
And let’s not talk about that scene where sweet, sweet Jude tries to get Cardan to seduce someone, only for it to backfire on her ass. In a good way. In a really, really good way. I almost screamed with glee at that scene. Almost as much as Cardan’s crazy zingers.
In any case, I devoured this book in very few sittings. The ending left me both hot and cold–as did Cardan, that maddening douche-canoe–and I immediately went ahead and started reading The Queen of Nothing shortly after. Because there was no way I could have gone a day without finding out what happens next. Not with how The Wicked King ended!
4.5 out of 5 cookies! Fantastic sequel, though honestly, I hope it can still go up from here!