*FYI, this review contains spoilers!!*
Title: The Wicked King
Author: Holly Black
Rating: 4/5 Stars
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.
FYI, this is NOT a spoiler-free review!!!
If this book tore you up, you’re not alone. But despite all of the twists, I can’t honestly say I was too surprised by the ending. Because Holly Black has more than shown us that this series isn’t a story of love, it’s a story about power and what humans will do to get it.
This fact is even more obvious when you consider the nuances of Cardan and Jude’s messed up romance. Their romance isn’t about acceptance, friendship, trust, or anything remotely related to what a healthy relationship looks like. Their tryst is a game of tug and war, an endless juggle of playing tricks and trying to gain power over the other. While it can be titillating to read (if you’re into angry sex where the characters get off on saying “I hate you” to each other), relationships like these can be hard to unpack. I would be honestly very curious to know if Holly Black knowingly created an unhealthy romance in an effort to send a message to her readers. Or, if she simply wanted to create drama and intrigue. Either way, we won’t know the message until we see how Cardan and Jude’s story ends.
In this installment, we begin to see the effects being power-hungry and human have on Jude. Her web of tricks and lies begin to become tangled, and she finds it hard to keep things straight. And in the end, it is her humanness and her weakness for love that gets her, i.e. trusting Cardan farther than she can throw him.
While her story is far from over, it’s obvious that Jude is going to have to fight even harder to take her new place among the Folk. She certainly becomes stronger in The Wicked King, but now we know it’s still not enough. The only questions that remain are, what lengths will Jude go to to get what she wants? And what will she lose in order to get it?
We’ll find out in The Queen of Nothing, projected for January 2020.
Have you read The Wicked King yet? What did you think?