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Friday in Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Hey everyone! So I want to get more consistent with my reviews. Mostly book reviews but there will be some times that I review TV shows or movies. I've just been so inconsistent with putting up reviews so here's to a new habit and new rhythm.

The first book I read this year was Fawkes but the first book I read that came out this year was The Wicked King.

(I will try to keep this spoiler free but just a head's up... there may be small spoilers ahead! So be warned haha)

But anyways, I read The Cruel Prince last year and I absolutely loved it! I haven't read some of Holly Black's older books, but ever since reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown I've been hooked on her writing. For the most part, I will not read a book if it doesn't have romance in it. Like a good romance that is semi-prominent to the story. The hero or heroine can have a journey of their own and other relationships and I am all for that, but there must be some sort of romance. Holly Black's books are an exception for me. Yes they have romance but it's not the normal YA romance that I'm used to reading. For The Coldest Girl in Coldtown there wasn't really any romance at all. Sure she had a thing with a vampire but it wasn't even really a thing. In The Darkest Part of the Forest there wasn't really a huge romantic subplot. I mean, there was romance but it wasn't the most important part of the story. And the same goes for The Cruel Prince. Holly Black creates such intriguing characters and stories. Characters and stories that don't even need any romance to be good (to me anyways haha) because they're all so real and alive and complex. They all have their own issues and Holly Black does a great job at exploring the broken human-ness of her characters and their non-romantic relationships with other characters.

Just a side note: another reason Holly Black's books are an exception for me is I love the chosen one trope. The MC's in the books I read have to have something special about them. I find it really boring when they don't. But in every Holly Black book I've read her characters have been so very human. I love the constant theme that strings her books together of humans (mostly teen girls haha) surviving inhuman experiences. They use their wits, their strengths and against the fact that they are very mortal and very human and breakable they still survive. They may not come out on top but they survive and they live and they prove that just because they're mortal and human and viewed as weak to say vampires or the fae, they are still worthy and important and strong.

And that is exactly what The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King is all about. Jude, a girl who was thrust into the world of the Fae after her mother's ex-fae husband murdered both her parents and whisked her, her twin sister and half-fae big sister into Faerie has to survive and has this drive to prove to the Fae that she is just as good as them. That she isn't weak and that her mortality doesn't define her. Jude is such a complex, interesting character, especially in The Wicked King because she's so clever and although she would hate anyone saying this, she is kind of obsessed with the Fae and their immortality and beauty. I think there's a part of her that wants what they have but then there's that defiant, human part of her that says no, I don't need any of that. I can be just as good as them, I can get out on top despite my mortality and human-ness. That is exactly what happened in The Cruel Prince. Jude came out on top. After lots of scheming and sneaking around and betraying, she managed to wrestle control of Faerie and in The Wicked King you find her as the true ruler whispering into the ear of her puppet king, Cardan.

While The Cruel Prince felt kind of like us meeting Jude and a stepping stone to getting her to this point, The Wicked King takes it to a whole other level. Jude was on top. I can't say she felt good about herself since she knew some of the things she did burned bridges, but she was proud and confidant of how far she'd come. To be honest, I would have been disappointed if The Wicked King had turned out perfectly for her. I would have been disappointed if Holly Black hadn't wreaked havoc on Jude and made her life kind of miserable. Holly Black really beat her down. Jude became paranoid and ran herself ragged to keep control over Cardan and the throne. She was always on high alert, always fighting for control even when she already had control. Reading that book though was like watching a train wreck. Slowly but surely one bad thing after another kept happening. Things started to slip from Jude's grip as she refused to trust anyone with anything of true importance and so had to deal with and handle everything herself and because of that, things started to fall apart. In The Cruel Prince and the beginning of The Wicked King she was always two steps ahead of the Fae but as the sequel went on you realize that maybe Jude was in over her head. Especially with Cardan.

I really love Cardan. Not because he's a good person or a good love interest, because he's really not. He's cruel and wicked (yes the titles describe him perfectly) to everyone and in everything he does. But in The Cruel Prince he really wasn't that clever or smart. Jude made a grave mistake in putting him on the throne because he started to realize he liked being king and that he might actually be a good king. Their relationship is unlike anything I've read in a book (especially a YA book). It's toxic and complicated and destructive and distrusting. At the beginning anyways. I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and evolve. Though there was still all the bad blood and a past of hating each other between the two of them, you started to see Jude feel for him. Think she might actually let herself love him in another life. And you could see Cardan start to respect her a little bit? Start to see her as a little bit of an equal or at least love her in a way that Fae can. By the end of the book you realize they are the perfect match for each other. Equal in strength and cunning.

Though I did not see that ending coming at all! I won't spoil it but man, I honestly thought it would go a totally different direction. Like I said, I didn't expect a happily ever after, but I did expect something else. I'm not sure what, but what I got instead definitely wasn't something I saw coming at all. It leaves Jude in a very... interesting place and I can't wait to see what happens in The Queen of Nothing. If I can get slightly spoiler-y for a minute I won't say what happened or anything but for those who've read it know what I'm talking about. I think Cardan has a plan. I don't know what it is but that ending seemed a little sudden and I hope he has a grand master plan for The Queen of Nothing. Or more I guess Holly Black has a grand master plan for her third book in the trilogy.

So yeah, I devoured that book in like a day or two. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I just really love Holly Black's writing style and books. Especially her characters. Her character development is definitely one of her greatest strengths. They always shine the brightest as the best part of her books. And seriously I cannot wait for The Queen of Nothing! I want a semi-happy ending but with Holly Black and the way this series is going I wouldn't be surprised if there was a more bittersweet ending in store for Jude.

I guess I will finish this off by saying, if you haven't read any of Holly Black's books, please go do! If you like dark books with awesome non-chosen one characters in a Fae world then you'll love her books. And because I love it so much don't skip over The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. If you love vampires, you'll love that book.

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Which of Holly Black's books are your favorite? 


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