Modern Fantasy · Review · Young Adult

The Wicked King by Holly Black | Book Review

The Wicked King by Holly Black, statuette of boy merman and dolphin beside it

Series: The Folk of the Air, #2

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Pub. Date: 2019

Genres: Fantasy, YA

Pages: 336

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

I finally read The Wicked King, by Holly Black, and it was an amazing political story. The second book of The Folk of the Air series starts months into Jude’s bargain with Cardan. She’s running the kingdom and trying to keep the new king in check with his vow of obedience. While she’s trying to keep a hold on her newfound power, she does everything she can to protect her brother, another potential heir to the Crown of Elfhame. More people want power over Elfhame, and Jude will have a difficult time preventing others from taking her brother’s future rule.

It was a little strange to read the words from a page instead of listening to the audiobook, which I did for the first book. It was fun this time to hear Caitlin Kelly’s voices for the characters as I remembered them from The Cruel Prince audiobook.

I liked the character growth in the previous book, but I can’t say that it was as broad in the second. There was a lot of character growth for Jude and Cardan, but not as much for the others. Across books, though, it might be true that there was more character development to be seen. It was also good to encounter some of the other peripheral characters again.

However, there is so much scheming, political maneuvering, and drama that I can live with the not-as-great character development happily. I loved the scheming of all of the characters, though one bit was predictable. For some political scheming, Game of Thrones fans or fans of any royal novels may take it to the book well. There is a lot happening in this book, and it creates good suspense.

Magic was not as present this time to the extent that I did not see major conflicts or contrasts. The most that I think can be said is the bargain between Jude and Cardan and Cardan’s ties to the land as the King of Elfhame. That part is interesting to witness. The magic didn’t feel larger than life, but the reader should have been introduced to most of it in The Cruel Prince.

My disappointments with magic aside, I liked that there were dealings with another land. That also played into much of the conflict.

The Wicked King is a suspenseful and twisted sequel, and it makes me look forward to The Queen of Nothing. I recommend this book if you liked The Cruel Prince. You might also enjoy it if you like reading political schemes in books.


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