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“The Wicked King” by Holly Black Book Review

Book: The Wicked King

Author: Holly Black

Series: Book #2 of The Folk of the Air

First published January 8, 2019

The Wicked King

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 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.

“The Wicked King” is the second book in “The Folk of Air” series by Holly Black. Jude is one step closer to carrying out her plan and putting Oak on the throne. All she has to succeed in is keeping the power and outsmarting her father once again.

Power has its price…

It’s not easy being a human in the elf world, and we already know that from the first book. The plot picks up a few months after Cardan’s coronation. Now Jude has the power, but nobody takes her seriously yet. The main character has played her cards well and is now royal seneschal. But Cardan is by no means easy to control, and Jude desperately needs more time.

Jude rules from the shadows. The deal she made with Cardan gives her power over him, but that requires precise orders. There is nothing more terrible for elves than to be under the power of another, and this makes for a very interesting power play between the two.

Apart from Cardan’s outbursts and dissolute behavior, Jude has to contend with all the courts vying for the throne. The heroine has to fight her battles on several fronts. This is all very difficult when you have to deal with the only family you have ever had.

The Wicked King

I was wondering why Holly Black chose this particular title for her book. So far, Cardan has not stood out to me as a particularly strong character and I was under the impression that would change in this book. I am a fan of strong male characters and was looking forward to the development of this character. I was surprised that this did not happen until the end of the book.

The book is not devoid of action. In fact, it’s too fast-paced. The good thing about the whole thing is that it reads incredibly easily. The events come at you, one after the other. On the downside, I report the same thing. Everything was resolved too quickly. I do not like too much rambling, which ruins the reading enjoyment, but Holly Black could have kept the suspense going in a few places and it would have been great, I am sure.

There are not many descriptions and elaborations of the already established world of the elves in “The Wicked King”. We have a few new actors in it, but there are a lot of dynamic scenes. Jude leads you through a series of betrayals and palace intrigues, and the ending is sure to shock you as much as it does her.

I rated this book high because the story flows so smoothly. The time period I decided to read it was right after a book that was 600 pages, and I could have easily cut it down to 200 pages, and the feeling of reading at a leisurely pace was missing. “The Wicked King” is just that kind of read – light, magical, with a dose of suspense and a dash of romance.

For those who follow us, it’s more than clear that we like much more serious reading, and you are probably wondering where that high score comes from.“The Folk of Air” series has its own charm and would definitely appeal to you if you are looking for an entertaining, light read. For me personally, the books were a great reboot at a time when everything is crashing down on you.

More reviews from the series:

The Cruel Prince

The Queen of Nothing


Hello, my name is Todora, but now also known as Dochka or Docheto. I have two wonderful dragons at home (boys ages 5 and 7) that I am trying to raise in the love of books. I was quite a chatterbox as a kid when I had required reading in school, and now I am trying to make up for it. I love reading fantasy, sweet endings are not my "thing". I love it when there are struggles, intrigue, and surprises in a book that shake you to your core. If I fell into paranoia that all the characters were traitors, my rating would be 5 stars. In short, I love to read and if one day I find a way to make this my sole occupation and get paid for it :D, I will have stumbled into heaven.

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