The Wicked King by Holly Black

A quick review of The Wicked King, the second volume in The Folk of the Air series. If you have not read this book please check my review of the first book or come back after reading it since this post will contain spoilers of both books. But you’re welcome if you don’t care about spoilers and just want to read and dicuss about The Wicked King!

Themes: fantasy, romance, revenge, politics, betrayal

The synopsis

We meet Jude again after she succeeded her coup and placed the crown on Cardan’s head. She’s now the power behind the throne and has to deal with faerie politics and Cardan constantly humiliating her in addition to find a way to secure the throne for her brother. She soon discovers that she has been betrayed and has to find who the traitor is before everything she has built is reduced to ashes.

The review

Usually, the second volume in a trilogy is of a lower level than the first and third volumes. I’m so pleased it’s not the case in this series! The plot is as gripping as the one of The Cruel Prince and creates a perfect bridge between the books. Jude has solved one problem (placing Cardan on the throne) but is since discovering that power comes at a price, even more when you’re an human governing faes, this combined with a resentful king to manage. She continues to grow and learn and at the end of the book is almost worthy of her nickname The Queen, given by the Bomb at the end of The Cruel Prince. Holly Black doesn’t change her idea about the morality of her characters which are still cunning and morally dubious. I couldn’t stand Taryn and Locke in this volume either and they prove to deserve each other just right. Taryn already betrayed her sister in the first volume and she does it again in this one while Jude is trying to smooth their relationship. I don’t understand her behaviour since she was the one trying to persuage Jude to make herself invisible and not adopt faes’ behaviour in The Cruel Prince (such an hypocrite). I hope she and Locke will get punished in the final book!

The only point I regret about this book is the treatment of the characters. I would have liked to see more about the other characters and particularly Jude’s sisters. Of course, they appear during some scenes such as Taryn’s wedding but I wished they were more present in the plot. I also think we don’t see Cardan enough and if we learn a bit more about his past and particularly his childhood, his thoughts and emotions are still a mystery for the reader. But it serves the ending (a new cliffhanger) by putting Jude and the reader in disbelief so I think we will get to really know him in The Queen of Nothing.

In brief: I was absolutely not disappointed by this book. Holly Black has a real talent to build her world and we get to discover more of it with Jude’s abduction by the Queen of the Undersea. Worldbuilding and plot are deliciously balanced and complement each other. The characters are evolving as is the plot, which remains complex and so interesting!

My rating: 5/5

Trigger-warnings: murder, bullying

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