Author: Holly Black
Narrators: Caitlin Kelly
Audiobook Length: 9 hours 41 minutes
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.
As this is the second novel is the continuous The Folk of the Air trilogy, it is highly recommended not to read them as a standalone and, instead, read them in order. The events in The Wicked King take place directly after the cliffhanger ending from The Cruel Prince. Therefore, this review will contain information from the previous novel in order to address the reading of the second one.
After the coronation event from the first novel, we enter into a new reign with High King Carden and his “advisor” Jude Duarte by his side. Similar to the first novel, the entire story is told from Jude’s perspective and the audiobook is once again narrated by Caitlin Kelly, who continues to do a fantastic job. She had marvelous continuity between the novels and she had great consistency throughout. Jude has all the power even though it is Carden on the throne. The dynamics between them were delightful as they continue to have such engaging push and pull in their relationship.
As Jude is working on maintaining her power, she knows there is an expiration date with her hold on Carden. Now she must figure out the next steps in her grand plan, but there are a lot of obstacles that stand in her way. Carden continues to be a mysterious character where you second-guess his motives the entire time. He seems one way in one moment, but then does a complete one eighty in the next. Jude is other half, whether you wish them together romantically or not, as she balances him with drive. She is motivated to figure out how to gain and keep power and is an overall complex character. Her motivations are clearer in this novel compared to the first, which made her a slightly more reliable narrator. I love that she uses the fact that she is human to her advantage when she could easily have believed it to be a negative. Her character growth from the time the reader first met her is fantastic and shows no sign of stopping as she continues her quest.
All the characters continue to be ones that you either enjoy or love to hate. I dislike some characters a lot more in this one, but that is solely based on their actions from the first and not on the author’s writing. Holly Black continues to impress me with her characters as they all are morally grey and there is no straight divide between “good” and “evil.” Madoc, Locke, Taryn, Vivi, Nacasia, and Oak are still great to read about in the vast sea of amazing supporting characters.
There are twists and turns around every corner in this story. Some are more obvious than others, but I have yet to meet a reader who could figure out them all. The cliffhanger in this novel is “worse” than the one from The Cruel Prince as you do not see this one coming, or at least I did not. The great part about waiting longer to start the trilogy is that I can start The Queen of Nothing right away! My expectations are now very high based on this novel as it was incredibly captivating and now I am anxious to see how everything will come together. Bring on the third and final installment!