Return to the world of Faerie as Jude Duarte struggles to maintain her precarious hold on the kingdom in The Wicked King, the sequel to Holly Black’s best-selling The Cruel Prince.
The Wicked King picks up a few months after The Cruel Prince ended. Jude has tricked Cardan into accepting the crown and operates behind-the-scenes, but even though she has gotten her way, Jude cannot let her guard down for even one second. Her life has become even more dangerous now that she’s in such a high position of power, and as we learn fairly quickly, Jude is completely out of her depth.
Not only do we see Jude attempt political machinations as a teenaged mortal in a world full of immortal beings, we also see her try to deny the feelings she has for Cardan. Their relationship is exceedingly well done and honestly my favorite thing about this series. There is no denying that it’s unhealthy on so many levels, but both of them seem to lack a moral compass and are mutually in loathe. The chemistry is palpable, and while the attraction surprised me in the first book, I was able to much better understand it in this second installment as Jude becomes more and more morally gray.
The Cruel Prince did a fabulous job of establishing the world in which Jude lives. The Wicked King now takes the characters we thought we knew from the first book and goes deeper. We see more of the world, we meet more characters, and we discover a little bit more about the history and the politics. The character development is sublime, particularly with Cardan, who becomes more complex and more real with every page. He is still a terrible person, but we learn more about his childhood and uncover why he’s such a terrible person.
It isn’t often I am truly gripped by a book, but it was difficult for me to put The Wicked King down to get off the train and go into work. I wanted to hide the book under my desk and keep reading. I was constantly surprised by the direction Black went in, by the twists and turns. I was so sure I understood the characters, and then the ending knocked me completely off my feet. Waiting for the next book will be agonizing.
The Wicked King by Holly Black is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and is available January 8 wherever books are sold.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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