on January 8, 2019
This exclusive edition contains deleted scenes sure to delight fans and give them a special peek into the world of Faerie!
The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.
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.
DISCLAIMER: While we try very hard to avoid spoilers, this one has a few. Since this is the second book in a series and there are so many entwined story lines, I don’t want to ruin any of the many delicious surprises this series has in store.
I’m slow writing this response, because it’s taken me some time to wrap my head around it. I was out of the country for a hot second, and then I came back and spent way too long trying to make this non-spoilery. As you can tell from the disclaimer above, that didn’t work out. Without further ado, let me present my spoilery, spoilery opinions on The Wicked King.
With the way The Cruel Prince ended, I knew that we were in for some type of shit, but I was absolutely blown away by the twists and turns that Holly Black has built into this story. I should have known, really, that she was going to do this. I haven’t read any of her other stuff, but TCP should have taught me that lesson. Apparently, I was too pig-headed to learn it. So we’re going to do this in a brand new format I like to call, “Things That Surprised That Really Shouldn’t Have”.
First of all, we have Nicasia. I knew the was a princess of the Undersea, but for some reason, I didn’t think that would be relevant. But with Elfhame in shambles after Jude’s stunt, of course it would be. These are faeries. They look for any and all opportunity for subterfuge and superiority, and Jude handed them an opportunity on a silver platter. It was a great thing to have in this book, because it demonstrated a lot of the overarching plot lines in tiny little vignette to answer one all-important question: Just how far will Cardan go to save Jude?
Then there’s the Ghost. I’m here to tell you this one really got me. When Jude started asking him questions and trying to determine his loyalties, it occurred to me that everything might not be as it seemed, but after the events of TCP, I really thought he was going to be on her side. OH BOY. It did nothing but drive the story forward, as I noted above, so I can’t be mad, but I was still bummed when I couldn’t love him anymore. It hurt.
Now. For the family dynamics. Obviously, Taryn’s dedication to Locke was going to be wildly misguided, but to the point of betraying Jude? It just seems so unnecessary. I know part of this world is that no one can be trusted, and you have to constantly be on your toes, but it just felt like one thing too many. That being said, I am interested to see how the whole Locke-Taryn-Cardan-Jude-Madoc dynamic evolves in The Queen of Nothing, because my guess is that the answer is “badly”.
And then there’s Cardan’s whole mommy dearest situation. I’m very excited and very afraid to see how that plays out in TQN. Plus, Balekin. He’s the dumbest smart person written in modern YA fiction. How did he not know Jude wasn’t glamored? How did he think any of this played out with a mortal who could be glamored? It just doesn’t make sense, and he’s smarter than that. Not sorry he’s dead, though.
And finally. The big kahuna. The shock of all shocks, and the thing that completely broke my heart. FUCKING CARDAN BANISHING JUDE TO THE MORTAL WORLD. EXCUSE ME. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?! I didn’t even know how to process the ending of this book. I was reading and then that happened and then it was over. I was so dumbstruck that I was completely unable to come up with anything even kind of productive to say. It’s been almost three months since I read it, and that’s still true. So if you ever wanted evidence of a successful shock ending, I guess that’s it. I just have to believe that there’s a reason for it and that she’ll get the opportunity to come back and absolutely wreck Locke. Cardan, however, has lost his right to help.
As I read back through that, it’s kind of five paragraphs of absolutely nothing. That teaches me to mull things over for too long. However, I don’t think anything I wrote in January would have been much better. Holly Black succeeded 100% in turning my brain to mush.
There are a couple of technical bits I’d like to touch on. I think this might just be a problem I have with Black’s writing in general, as I also struggled in TCP, but the pacing feels weird. There are these lulls of world-building or character development that feel a lot longer than they need to be, and then all of a sudden you’re in a mad dash to some tragedy. It wasn’t as bad in this one, but I still noticed it, especially leading up to Hunter’s Moon and between Jude’s rescue and her marriage to Cardan. This could be a taste issue, but it felt pronounced as I was reading.
The other thing is that for as action packed as these books are, they also feel very insignificant somehow. That’s stupid, and I know that, because I can’t stop thinking about them. They infiltrate my thoughts at least a couple times a week. And yet, something about them still feels shallow. I can’t quantify it better than that, so I almost didn’t mention it, but it’s been a very real part of my experience, so I didn’t want to leave it out.
The Queen of Nothing is set to drop on January 7, 2020. The cover reveal was last week, and oh my goodness, look at this thing. SO beautiful! I’m excited and terrified to see how this trilogy wraps up.
If you need a Holly Black fix in the meantime, The Modern Faerie Tales is being re-released as a bindup, and it’s stunning as well. I haven’t read this series yet, but I’m planning to once I acquire this copy.