Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

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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.

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When I read The Cruel Prince last year, I was still new to the community and got completely caught up in the hype. While I did give it 4 stars, I don’t know what my reaction would be if I read it for the first time now. Similarly, the hype for The Wicked King has been off the charts since advanced reviews started coming in almost 8-9 months ago and it definitely made me my expectations a lot higher. And I’m disappointed because I didn’t really feel much of anything while reading this.

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I was not a big fan of Jude even in the first book but I understood her ambitions and her skillful and scheming mind. But I just felt that her character regressed in this one. I guess I expected her to learn more because she is now in control of the crown, but what we see is how unprepared she actually is and how exhausting it is to run a kingdom. She may want to project strength and even cruelty but she really isn’t cruel, and doesn’t see most of the betrayals coming. And while I totally understand her need for family, I just hate that she is very quick to forgive and trust Taryn and Madoc, while convincing herself that she is being smart.

Cardan is the only character I was fascinated by in this book. While I hated him in the previous book and he has to grovel a lot more before I can forgive his incessant cruelty and bullying, he was the one character who had the most development here and never did what was expected of him. He is scheming and manipulative and we can never guess how he will behave in a certain situation. I think the book would be way more entertaining if we got his POV too.

Every single reader seems to love their romance but I just don’t see anything. There is definitely a lot of hate and intensity between the two along with desire, but I have seen absolutely nothing between them that makes me think they’ll make a good couple or are even good for each other. I just feel like they bring out the worst in each other and they really need to put their animosity aside before they dissect their true feelings towards each other.

I just don’t like any of the side characters except maybe Bomb and Roach. I don’t know what they would do if they weren’t bound by oath to the High King, but they seem to not be the betraying kind yet which is a pretty low standard for me. I totally hate Taryn and Locke and only want the worst punishments for both. Madoc is another scheming manipulator and for all his talk of family, he only wants power even at their expense. Orlagh is just another power hungry ruler and I found nothing interesting about her.

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I actually found the writing in this book much easier than the previous installment. It’s nice to be familiar with the lay of the land which makes it fun to jump right into the story. We also get to know so much more of how the court of the High King runs and there’s a lot of political intrigue, strategic planning for war as well as for preventing it and we never know what anyone’s ultimate goal is. The whole plot reads like a chess game where we never even realize who has the upper hand. The pacing is a little slow for the first half, it’s mostly Jude reacting to things after they have already happened but the last 100 pages was fast and fun and very interesting. I knew there would be a betrayal at the end and while I didn’t guess the exact form of it, I wasn’t actually surprised and I don’t feel all that horrified by the “cliffhanger”.

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This is a definitely an entertaining sequel and anyone who loved the first book will absolutely love this too. If you are very invested in Jude and Cardan’s enemies to lovers relationship, then this is probably gonna be a favorite book of yours. Just don’t take my review too seriously and have fun reading. Now that I know what The Queen of Nothing actually means, I do wanna know what happens next, maybe just not dying for it 😜😜

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17 thoughts on “Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

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  1. I agree so much that while I liked Jude in the first book, in this one she was so different and annoying without much reason. Cardan was the one who grew more interesting for me as well. Great review! I’m going to read the next book because I’ve started this, but hopefully Jude will either go all in bad or try to be morally right because this in between thing was done poorly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huh.. I’m glad someone agrees with me that Jude became annoying… Cardan was a bit more interesting.. Thank you checking out my review 😊😊😊
      And I’ll definitely read the next one too, though I won’t be waiting for it eagerly 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh I’m sorry you didn’t love it as much as the hype dictates you to love it! I absolutely loved it and can’t wait for Queen of Nothing! Ahh im freaking how can we wait so long 😭😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I know… the wait is definitely excruciating… I guess I heard so many good things about this book for almost an year, that it would have never lived up to the hype in my head.. But I definitely will be reading Queen of Nothing too 😊😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

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