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.
Oh boy. Do you all remember when I read The Cruel Prince and how much that ending blew me away? Yeah, this one definitely tops that. This book has easily been one of my most anticipated books of 2019 and I’m beyond glad that it came out at the beginning of the year so we could start off on a high note. And what a high note that was. The only downside was that I apparently could not find this anywhere in stores the day it came out? And I’m not sure if it was because this book is so popular or that literally no stores around me actually received books because I kept searching and searching, and they all said out of stock. I’m pretty sure it took more time for me to actually buy this book than it did to read the entire thing. It was worth it so it’s all good. While I gave the first book about a 3.5 star rating, this book absolutely deserves 4 stars. Honestly, the last two chapters alone earn that rating. I couldn’t care less about what happened before that because the way this book ended shook me so hard. Good lord.
Because this is the second book in a series, I cannot properly review this book without revealing any spoilers so a huge, gigantic SPOILER ALERT is now in effect. I need to restrain myself from spoiling literally everything but I’m not sure that I can. We shall see.
- Hands down, my favourite thing about this book and this series is Jude’s character. I have met many female characters in my YA days and I’ve been known to throw out the term “badass” quite lightly. It’s easy to do this because that seems to be the trend for YA authors. But with Jude, I want to like bold, emphasize, underline, highlight, anything I can do to show how much I mean it when I say that Jude Duarte is a badass. And what makes her this badass is how she does it in a way that doesn’t quite showcase her physical strength. She knows she is skilled with swords and knives but she doesn’t go out on missions to kill people to prove her strength. No, for me, Jude is a badass because of her intelligence and how she applies in all the situations she finds herself in. Being one of the only humans in Faerie, Jude has the advantage of being able to lie, since the fae cannot, and watching her actively lie to them and getting them to truly believe her is such a marvel to me. To me, that shows how she is able to think on her feet and handle herself in situations where her humanness is actually her advantage. I love seeing her fight and kill, but I like seeing her use her mind more. I would rather call a female character a badass because of her mind instead of her skill because it’s really tiring to me. And the fact that she is this human girl, who is constantly told how she doesn’t belong, but is controlling the most powerful figure in the land is astounding. She is the one calling the shots and using Cardan as a puppet, basically. I love this concept and I love Jude. I want all other “badass” females to give back their cards because they do not deserve that title when Jude Duarte exists.
- I said before that I can see myself liking Cardan, even redeeming him, but I wasn’t at that point and I felt like it would really take a while for me to get there. So, I’m definitely there now. And I’m shocked it happened so fast. To me, what made me really start liking Cardan was when we dived deeper into his past, to find out why he’s the way he is, it wasn’t done in a way that we need to automatically forgive him and excuse all of his past behaviour just because we all of a sudden understand him. No, for me, what made me like Cardan was how he recognized all of this about himself and pointed out all of the things where he exuded this cruel behaviour, but it wasn’t done in a way that we were meant to sympathize or excuse him in a “woobifying” way. We saw that his mother would only respond to him if he acted cruel, and his father thought the worse of him and therefore Cardan acted as bad and more, but Cardan doesn’t use that to ask for Jude’s forgiveness. I’m not even sure he uttered the phrase “I’m sorry” and to me, I value the recognition of his horrible behaviour far more than asking for forgiveness due to his daddy issues. That, and adding the fact that he’s actively trying to prove that he can be a good king and how he constantly prides himself on not being a killer, he became redeemable in my book. He’s definitely an anti-hero, much like Jude, and I like it.
- Listen, I was not into the romance all that much in the first place but boy am I into it now. I constantly saw people saying how they’re the god tier “enemies to lovers” trope but I couldn’t quite see the lovers bit. I kind of do now. But what I enjoyed about the romance was how Black didn’t just throw the two together and make them all of a sudden jump into a lovey-dovey romance. It was clear that they have this sexual tension, and their hatred mostly fuels that, but it doesn’t quite go into the typical YA romance. There are a few “steamy” moments, for YA at least, but the tension is what is making this romance work. I am into it.
- THE. LAST. TWO. CHAPTERS. We need to talk about them but we also don’t because it would literally ruin the entire book. I just want to say that Black killed those plot twists and I can honest to god say that I never, in a million years, expected that to happen. I honestly stared at the wall for a good ten minutes after finishing the book. That’s how effective this ending was.
- I already talked about the world building in my review of the first book so I don’t really need to delve back into that, but I still very much love this world. Just wanted to make a note of that.
- So I really loved the book, however the writing kind of bothered me a bit this time around. And it’s ironic because I praised it in the first book. I think what bothered me was how there were instances where Jude would tell me things that were happening as opposed to showing me. Like, for example, when she was in the Undersea, apparently an entire month had passed while she was down there and I understand not detailing that whole month but on the other hand, it felt like she was doing a lot of “this happened and then this happened and now I’m going to go do this.” Like, it bugs me but it also doesn’t. I can’t explain it.
- I’m also going to be annoying and say that I wish there were more details from what happened in the first book because I forgot SO MUCH. But I’ve also been known to complain when second books are too detailed with what previously happened so honestly, I cannot be pleased regardless.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- If you’ve read The Cruel Prince, obviously you need to read this book. I would even say that even if you didn’t like that first book, you need to read this book. This story goes deeper into the ideas of power and deception and with Jude and Cardan at the forefront, this series just gets better and better by the second. Just read it. And by read it, I mean just for the last two chapters. It makes everything worth it.
BONUS: how this book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2)
Author: Holly Black
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Pages: 317 (Hardcover)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!