Sometimes you get a sequel that just doesn’t quite live up to the first book. However, I think we should all be very excited to know that this was not the case in Holly Black’s, The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2).
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.
Once again Black is able to transport you into this fantasy world as though you are actually living it alongside Jude. You can vividly picture all of the Fair Folk that she’s describing, as well as the setting. I also enjoyed that we get to experience some of the Undersea as well, instead of only Elfhame. Now if we can only get to visit some of the Under Courts in the next book… Keep your fingers crossed, people!
In this sequel, we find Jude to have even a harder exterior and heart than before. She’s basically been in charge for five months at the start of the novel and you can really tell how rough it has been for her. At this point, the only things that bring out any emotions in her are Oak and (to no one’s surprise), Cardan. While you still want to root for Jude, she almost gives off antihero vibes because she is so closed off, even from the reader. My feelings towards her were basically all over the place throughout this book. As for Cardan… my baby boy can do no wrong. He even opens up his soul at one point in the book! I love how twisted he is and that he has his own agenda, even while actually under Jude’s command. You do you, Cardan!
I think the biggest difference between this book and the first is that it had a faster pace to it. The Cruel Prince took a while for me to really dive into the story, whereas with The Wicked King, I was immediately caught up in the action and plot. I can always appreciate a book that immediately grabs me and doesn’t let go. I also loved that this sequel ended on another big twist, mirroring the first book. If you know me, you know I can never get enough plot twists. I know some people hate books that end on twisted cliffhangers, but I absolutely love them. It takes a lot to surprise me and so when an author can do that, I will forever applause them.
If you enjoyed the first book, I think you’ll love this sequel even more. It ups the ante even more, with plot twists scattered all over the place. Our characters also go through some development in this novel as way, in both good and bad ways. I cannot wait to see what they’ll do next!
Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars
Have you read The Wicked King yet? If so, what did you think about it? Did you enjoy it more than the previous book? What do you think about the development of Jude and Cardan’s relationship?