The Wicked King by Holly Black Book Review

Title: The Wicked King

Author: Holly Black

Date Published: January 8, 2019

Rating: 4.50/5.00


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.

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Hello there, allies and archenemies, and everyone in between! It’s the time to review again and The Wicked King is officially the first book published in 2019 that I’ve read. Dear me, this is fcktastically better and amazing than The Cruel Prince! I really don’t know if I have enough words to convey my growing love for this series but dang son, I will try.

ALSO CAN WE JUST PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO INHALE AND SQUEAL OVER THAT FCKING ART? Let’s support these amazing artists! Follow and check out Salome Totladze other works as well.

Art by Salome Totladze

“It occurs to me that maybe desire isn’t something overindulging helps. Maybe it is not unlike mithridatism; maybe I took a killing dose when I should have been poisoning myself slowly, one kiss at a time.”

Have you ever heard of the elusive word called character development? Because ohohohoboy was this effectively drawn out here. I don’t want to get too spoilery since some of you still might not have read it, but let’s breakdown the reasons why I love Cardan more than ever the characters’ growth in this book.

Jude Duarte

Art by Salome Totladze

“Kill him, a part of me says, a part I remember from the night I took him captive. Kill him before he makes you love him.

YA Fantasy is full of incredibly smart and terribly young heroines, and sometimes I just get sick of how they’re all born in that particular formula in books. Not saying that I don’t love them, I just kinda need some variety so I could remember them individually. Now let’s take a closer look at Jude.

  • She’s young. Check!
  • Incredibly smart. Not so sure but kinda check!

What I love about Jude here you see, is she’s getting worse and ironically getting better at being the worst. In the last book, she was power-hungry and had a little dose of it later on. Now in The Wicked King, she gets quite a mouthful of it. We get to see her explore this deep well of power she now wields, and see her desperately fail or succeed in her plans without taking away the fact that she’s still a young adult.

I sometimes think that Jude is a frustrated competitive college student who desperately wants to achieve that Cum Laude title, thus ignoring her family duties and social life. But she also has to get some sleep and proper hydration first, and you know? Go have some little romance and a stable circle of friends, but she keeps herself isolated in the library and realized by the end of her 3rd year in college, that she’s pretty burned out, and could not figure out where and when her life went wrong.

That actually pretty sums her up HAHAHAH. I don’t hate her and I don’t like her either, but she has this stupid resilience and unerring courage that you just can’t help but pine for her. Quite, the anti-hero I’m looking for.

Cardan Greenbriar

Art by Salome Totladze

Trigger Warning: Cringe-worthy confession of love for a fictional character. Please skip this part if you’re just going to throw unwarranted insults, this is my safe space so get tf out if you’re just going to disagree. (Too defensive? I know. I’m so sorry)

I’m a sucker for evil kings with bitter origins. *coughs*I mean Maven was my first love after all*coughs* And one thing’s for sure, I’m ready to sacrifice my virginity life for Cardan, especially that he has grown so much in this book. His is by far the best character development in this one, and he has grown much wiser and funnier as opposed to his previous unchecked cruelty.

To those who already love him in the first book here’s a virtual hug! Oof. Y’all will definitely like him more here with the way he’s fleshed out. We get to see a lot more of his roots and ohmyfckingglob I just kept on fanning myself for air when I read those parts. WHICH MEANS, YOU HAFTO READ IT AS WELL TO GET WHAT I MEAN.

P.S. He’s gotten more seductive and fcking attractive here.
P.P.S. I actually really hated him in the first book until that accidental kiss with Jude tipping her knife to his chin.

Side Characters
1.Taryn – Never liked her in the first book and after that half-assed apology novella, I’m pretty sure I still didn’t like her here. Prepare to hate her more in this book!

2.Madoc – Still the frustrated cunning dad that I liked.

3.The Court of Shadows – Here, we get see the more fleshed out and we’ll definitely have a closer look at their origins!

4.The Sea Folk – I totally called for it! This is probably the only spoiler I’m gonna reveal since the cover already screams of them getting involved. We get to see them more in their entirety and I really love the world building in their kingdom. The technicalities of how their magic works are also laid out here perfectly, even if it only gets 2 chapters to explain, more or less.

Other than that, I think this book weighed more heavily on Jude’s crappy and occasionally successful decision making skills. The characters were all kind of existed as a means for Jude, that is actually one thing that I disliked here but find it understandable. There were also new characters introduced that emphasized the magical aspect of the world building more and while some may have crucial parts in how the plot is going to play out, they weren’t really THAT important.

PLOT AND TWISTS: 4.50/5.00

The Wicked King’s format is divided into two books like that of The Cruel Prince. The first half was more of exploring how Elfhame is going to work now that there are new shifts behind its political power. New conflicts of interest were introduced, new political alliances were formed and reformed, and new shifts in the story made my heart full with delight! I really didn’t mind that it took 200 pages more or less to actually get a taste of the multiple plot twists because it was all worth the wait.

I personally loved how the first part went through, and unlike The Cruel Prince, this was executed smoothly with only slight disturbances. There weren’t that much unnecessary plot devices that exist for the sake of filling in the number of pages as opposed to The Cruel Prince’s plot.

Other than that, the one thing that you have to look out for is Book Two because ohohohoboy, the number of plot twists and turns that sprang into action will get you high. There were a lot of times that I stopped reading the book just to squeal and fan myself for dear life. It was that good!

Also, I’m a sucker for the enemies to lovers trope, and I have my fill with all of Jude and Cardan’s passive-aggressive flirtations.

Overall, this was a fcktastic amazing read and this is officially the first favorite book of my 2019 reading year! I’m so excited for the third installment because that title is so fcking accurate. I NEED THE COVER AND AN ARC OF THAT BOOK SOON.


  • What did you think about Jude and Cardan’s relationship after this book?

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