The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black (2019)
YA Fiction | Fantasy
“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.”
Book One: THE CRUEL PRINCE
pooled ink Review:
I have conflicted feelings about this series haha I just do and it’s odd but it is what it is. FIRST of all just as I did with The Cruel Prince, I binge read this book cover to cover not wanting to put it down. The world-building is intriguing, beautiful, cruel, and curious while the characters are painted bold and alive determined to possess it. And yet, and yet as I felt in the first book I felt the same with this one…to sum up my face 90% of the time while reading:
Something celebrated with these books are the constant snarls and twists and layers of scheming that occurs with every character from the moment they appear on the page and often even before then. And I absolutely agree that Black handles the complexity of the plot with a skilled hand doing a good job of portraying the true and traditional way of the clever cruel fae. That being said for some annoying reason most of these twists did not phase me. Some somewhat surprised me and others didn’t, but none made me really gasp, ya know? And there were a couple twists that I just didn’t buy altogether honestly. Then the ending that had everyone who read it freak out was a cool twist I suppose but it didn’t make me feel outraged or shocked or whatever. I simply felt excited for the next book if only to see how that choice would inevitably be put into play. I shrugged and silently applauded him for being clever and taking charge, and ya know what? I know he has a plan. I just do. People are so used to him not putting in the effort but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable. A lot happens in this book and he is not oblivious to it, rather it wakens him.
Let’s jump into characters!
I still hate Taryn, Jude’s twin sister. If you read my review for The Cruel Prince then you’ll know that I didn’t like or trust her since the moment I met her even when there was no apparent reason not to. Nothing in her character’s storyline made me surprised at all. Nothing.
Vivi, Jude and Taryn’s fae sister who has moved to the mortal realm forsaking the politics of the fae, I didn’t have a strong opinion about originally and now after this book I don’t like her. She messed up, she doesn’t fully understand how she messed up, and I couldn’t care less about being her friend. And yet all in all my opinion remains uncaring because her character still feels inconsequential.
Jude, our protagonist, our fiesty mortal heroine who has cleverly (or foolishly) given herself the task of trying to control the High King, Cardan, just made me feel stressed if I’m honest. She’s still a thrilling character to follow for sure, but mostly I wasn’t rooting for or against her, I just felt stressed out. Actually this whole faerie land/faeire folk deal had me stressing like crazy. This is one fantasy world I do NOT wish to visit. But yes, if you liked Jude in book one then you’ll be happy to know she runs herself ragged in this book being a woman who wears many hats but supplies us with exciting entertainment as she runs a kingdom, swings a sword, conspires with spies, and dances a deadly but tantalizing dance with Cardan.
The relationship between Jude and Cardan is sorta messed up really and yet I can’t help but ship them haha So you get a bit more of that in this book (yay!). Cardan though, he’s my favorite character in this book as we really get to see him come into his own. Of course at first he’s still angry, caged, trouble-making, difficult, and often drunk, but he slowly becomes so much more and I am dying for the next book only to see what move he’ll make next.
The Folk of the Air has proven thus far to be a wildly entertaining fantasy series even if nothing has quite shocked me yet. Doesn’t matter because although half of me feels ho-hum about it all, the other half of me felt riveted and curious to witness each move of the chessboard. And I really liked it more than the first book. It may be shorter (surprisingly short for a fantasy book actually) but each page is packed with action, scheming, duplicity, word games, and the flair of the fae. I may not be in love with this series but it is undeniably oddly captivating and I confess myself intrigued to find out what happens next.
The Wicked King continues to weave its spell with ever deadlier knots and schemes as each character moves across the chessboard holding their motives close to their chest. No one is innocent, nothing is free, and although no war is formally declared much blood has already been spilled in its promise. A riveting sequel to The Cruel Prince indeed…
Purchase Here: The Wicked King
Check out the rest of the series: The Cruel Prince (book 1)