Book Review: THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Yes - book 2 of trilogy

*SPOILER ALERT: contains spoilers for THE CRUEL PRINCE*


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 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.


I only picked up TCP at the end of last year, which meant I only had a few months to wait until TWK. I was planning on waiting until paperback release, because the ending of TCP wasn’t too much of a cliffhanger. Then I saw all the reviews and love TWK was getting, so decided to go for it.

I somewhat wish I had waited.

This book was brilliant – far better than the first (which I loved), and the ending was… I wish I didn’t have to wait a year for book three.

The ending… let’s say the tables are turned quite dramatically. It was so satisfying after the tugs of war and outmanoeuvring throughout the book, but equally shocking.

I can’t wait to see how Jude reacts in the next book. It’s likely going to knock her arc back a fair bit, undoing a lot of the work learning to trust. I adore negative arcs, not to mention how well they mimic real life.

Jude’s arc is such fun to watch, as if her relationship with Cardan. It’s tense and electric and so well done. Despite her magical command over him, the situation and his own cunning – not to mention the sparks and how flustered he can make her – means that it’s a level playing field. He hates her control, and his own feelings. She wants to extend her control to safeguard her brother, but he has a way of getting under her skin.

There are many other twisty subplots to keep you on your toes too. A friend had said ‘I bet the traitor is X’, which meant I was watching X and didn’t see if there were any clues as to who the real traitor was. Re-read needed!

Locke is back and horrible as ever. I could never predict what he was going to do, and his revenge was horrifying but enthralling.

Madoc and Jude have almost as many attempts at one-up-manship as Jude and Cardan. I wasn’t sure what to make of him in TCP, but I love his determination and admire the lengths he’ll go to for his own goals.

Seeing another court – the Undersea – was fun but creepy. That section of the book was the most unsettling bit.

Black’s prose is sparse and direct. No word is wasted bringing her world and character’s to life. The descriptions are pared down to their basics, a few adjectives thrown in here and there. It’s not a common style these days, but it’s perfect for Jude. Though subtle, and hard to spot, it’s a crucial part of bringing her voice to life.

I can’t wait for THE QUEEN OF NOTHING now.

Want to read THE WICKED KING? Add it to your Goodreads shelves here.

Read my reviews of other books by Holly Black:

Young Adult:

The Folk of the Air (this series):



3 thoughts on “Book Review: THE WICKED KING by Holly Black

  1. Great review!! I just read and reviewed the book myself, and I totally agree with you. CAN’T BELIEVE WE HAVE TO WAIT SO LONG FOR QUEEN OF NOTHING 😭😭😭


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s