The Wicked King
By: Holly Black
Book #2 in The Folk of the Air series
Content Warnings: Violence, blood, death, kidnapping, abuse, bullying, talk of child abuse, alcoholism
It’s time to talk about the second installment in Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series, The Wicked King. After finishing The Cruel Prince, I’ve packed all the essentials needed before I dare travel back to Elfhame. I’ve got my salt packet and string of rowan berries to protect myself from faerie enchantments. I’m even wearing my fuzzy socks inside out, and let me tell you: they itch terribly! Are there any brave souls willing to join me?
Wait. Who am I kidding?!
Don those sunglasses instead. I’m watching all the action from the safety of my home! It’s wicked fun. Are those fireworks going off in the distance? Explosions? Maybe both!
Much like the first book, The Wicked King actually starts off a bit slow. This gives you some time to grab some popcorn. It takes time to set up the players on the game board known as Elfhame. And trust me: there are many characters throwing a hook at the throne. Jude must remain vigilant now that she’s King Cardan’s seneschal.
Jude directs everything from behind the scenes so long as she controls Cardan, but that power has an expiration date. Even while the clock ticks, Cardan manages to find loopholes around Jude’s binding. Is Cardan clinging to the petulance from a miserable childhood? Or is he formulating his own schemes as he grows into the crown atop his head?
The only thing for certain is Jude can’t trust anyone. Maybe not even herself. I like Jude because she’s a complex character constantly driving the plot forward. She wants to protect her siblings so desperately yet lusts after power for the sake of having it. What makes the political machinations so riveting in The Wicked King is how every player is a serious contender. Many of them gain leverage against Jude, edging closer to the Shadow Queen so they can get within stabbing distance to the High King of Elfhame.
Check mate? Not quite. Jude and Cardan make for a deadly pair, even if they are loyal to their separate devices. I’m personally not fond of their romance (if you can even call it that?), but there’s a tentative undertow between them that just might end up sweeping me away. We’ll see.
In short, if you enjoyed The Cruel Prince, then you’ll probably like The Wicked King. The plot twists and court intrigue dominate as usual. The ending in particular is a critical hit from Cardan that made my head reel! So, I highly recommend you get to that ending too and suffer with me. To quote Ron Weasley from Harry Potter: “You’re gonna suffer, but you’re gonna be happy about it.”
More Musings & Magic
I like Vivi and Jude’s relationship, but I wish these two talked to each other more! I really think they could help with each other’s problems because of their unique perspectives. What do you think of the sibling dynamics?
Please keep the magic alive and share your comments below!