The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)by Published 08 Jan 2019
|The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2).pdf|
|Publisher||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
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.
"The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)" Reviews
Dear Holly Black,
First of all, how dare you?
Second of all, you are NOT supposed to go around stabbing people in the heart. That is illegal. This is illegal. Please stop writing illegal stuff.
This book has made a great mess of my life. I keep thinking back to when I first read The Cruel Prince and how I was completely unaware of just how much this story would mean to me. My tiny human body isn’t even big enough to hold all the love that’s inside. I could fit a five bedroom house with a conservatory and a parking space in my heart, you can’t even fathom this much love! In fact, it’s now safe to assume that no matter what is happening at any given moment in time, the background noise going on in my heart is always love and appreciation for these books.
So what is this book about?
His mouth curls into a smile. His eyes shine with wicked intent. “Look at them all, your subjects. A shame not a one knows who their true ruler is.”
The veins of power are not, as the Faerieland of Elfham thinks, radiating out from the beating heart of their new High King. They are radiating out from his mortal seneschal: every thread of power and authority would start and end with Jude Duarte.
Pulled under in a too-familiar poison current of enemies and allies (more of the former than the latter), Jude can’t afford to betray the slightest amount of weakness or fear. She must once again fight the battle of manners and politics and crowns that had traded blood-splattered hands quite often. She must learn to navigate the machinations of the court, the calculated plays for power and the truth of where thrones are won and lost—in the favors traded for power, in the gossip and the letters passed in dark corners, in the secret payments and the shadow alliances.
But with each day bringing her closer to the end of the deal she struck with Cardan—where he vowed to act in accordance to her will for one year and a day and not one minute more—a miasma of anxious fear hovers over everything as Jude begins to feel these new threads to the throne snap one by one, threatening to undo all her plans like a knot. And seeing as she and the High King are often at odds with each other, enemies as frequently as they are allies, Jude is left, as always, with her only thread of power: herself.
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.
I don’t think there’s any combination of words that could accurately convey just how good this book is.
With a stage magician's flair for misdirection, Holly Black weaves a captivating spell with languorously descriptive writing—the atmosphere was so vividly imagined I felt like moss would just start appearing around me, and branches would just grow from any surface I looked at—breathtaking set pieces, engaging characters, and a gratifying emotional hook that will keep the pages whirring, ending this second installment with a spinning sense of history repeating itself and a cliffhanger that you might anticipate but only as a vague fear that might not come true if you didn’t think about it too hard.
The end will seem less of a synonym for ending than it will be for beginning as the characters learn the hard way just how slippery and illusory power is.
First of all, either you love Jude Duarte with all your heart or you get out of my car and walk home. Every time someone hates on Jude, my love for her only grows stronger. I can’t prove this with science but when I was born, Sappho’s spirit must have gently floated into my room and softly bopped my nose and that’s why I am so gay for Jude.
I am so fascinated by her character. I love her capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for stubborn bravery that seems more of a result of chaining her fears and not unhooking their leashes just yet, for bottomless generosity of heart with undertones of naked lust for power and petty, capricious malice. Jude is full of so many wants, too many to prioritize, and so sometimes, they all feel desperate. She is a wolf learning the patterns of much bigger wolves. She survived on the jagged edge of a cruel childhood. She let the fear act as a fuse to light her anger. She fought to claim the home that did not deign to claim her. She navigated an enemy court and made it her own. She secured her path to pure unfettered power when she should have been a captive.
There's just such a flow and power to her that is so arresting to read about and I love it!
Can you believe that Cardan exists and the only reason I too exist is to love him? If Cardan were real and alive in the 16th century, he would probably have been the muse of at least twenty different artists who would all fight for the right to paint and sculpt him because he’s just that iconic.
To put it simply: this book is just about a bunch of people having the worst day of their lives...and then there's Cardan, who is having the best day because of his tenacious commitment to be a layabout on a throne for which he sees none of the real work and all of the benefit. He spends most of his time lounging carelessly on his throne, his crown standing at an insouciant angle on his messy hair, a cold smile on his face and a glass of wine in his hand, essentially looking like a dreamy renaissance painting every day. And so, the important question remains: Siri, how do I infiltrate a fictional character’s heart and make him fall in love with me?
Look, I have a huge weakness for morally questionable characters who only seem like huge dicks because they have the social skills of an agoraphobic lobster, and not much pierces my heart right into my vulnerability like seeing these same characters emotionally flayed, with their skins off, exposing their fragmented, contradictory self to the reader.
Cardan has spent most of his life being a soldier in a war where the enemy was everyone else. He’d had one secret and he’d kept it in a portion of his heart that no one had access to: that he was not truly loved and that it made him cruel. And when the delusion that he could earn his family’s love by serving them wore out, and his passion dulled by the long, heavy wear of time and disappointment, the last of the armor he imagined his cruelty has given him had been stripped away and what remained was the undiluted, unedited and uncensored version of him.
I can still hear the unmistakable sound of my heart breaking because I love this idiot so much and despite the things he’s done, I just want him to be so happy that it outweighs all the sadness he’s ever felt. [self-insert au fic where I adopt Cardan and raise him with the love and care he’s always deserved]
🌟CARDAN AND JUDE (JURDAN?):
Our eyes meet, and something dangerous sparks.
He hates you, I remind myself.
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”
I said this before and I'll say it again: Holly Black has done more for love with Jude & Cardan than Nicholas Sparks ever did. I have a dozen hearts swirling around my head for them and that isn't a filter, it's permanent.
I think the crux of this book was the emotional honesty between Jude and Cardan, as they begin to realize that if they want the reward of being truly trusted, they must give in to the mortifying ordeal of being known. There are so many giant set pieces in this story, but nothing really propelled them along more than the authentic moments that happened between them. They know they’re closer than they’ve ever been and that becomes very integral to not just their relationship but to what happens at large for everyone in the story. They’re aware of how much is riding on their ability to maintain this partnership and stay on the same level and not let anyone suspect that there’s daylight between them because a lot of people would not hesitate to take advantage of that. Even when it was tempting for both of them to imagine how they could hurt the other, but only because it reminded them of how fiercely they could fall for each other.
I really can't overstate how invested I am in this series. Jude and Cardan make me want to draw tiny hearts everywhere because I'm so full of love for them. This book was everything I wanted and more and with that cliffhanger, I don't even want to think about what I'm going to do with my life until the release of the next book.
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1.) The Cruel Prince ★★★★★
1.5) The Lost Sisters ★★★★★
“Once upon a time, there was a human girl stolen away by faeries, and because of that, she swore to destroy them.”
Many of you might not know this but on this day many years ago, Holly Black’s biggest fan was born. Spoiler: it’s me! And I figured what better way to celebrate my birthday than to finally post my review for my favorite book of the year! I read this back in May, and it doesn’t come out until January, but celebrating my love for this book and series on my birthday just felt right. Also, I’m just that extra, but The Wicked King is perfection in every way.
I love so many different kinds of books; fantasy, romance, young adult, new adult, adult, books with lyrical writing, books that are character driven, books with angsty relationships, books with soul crushing emotions, books that make me feel everything. And I’ve read a lot of books; over 800 according to Goodreads. But every time I pick up a Holly Black book, I feel like she wrote the book for me. And I mean that, because she writes exactly the kind of books that I want to read. Not just key elements or parts, she completely encompasses everything I love in literature. And if I could wish one thing for everyone who reads my reviews, I’d wish for you to find an author that makes you feel this way, too.
The Wicked King is the second installment in The Folk of the Air series, the first being my favorite book of 2017, The Cruel Prince! And this book starts off five months after the heart wrenching events in book one. This review is going to be spoiler free, but I will be talking about some key elements that happened in the previous book! So, please do not read this review if you do not wish to be somewhat spoiled for The Cruel Prince!
“I want to tell you so many lies.”
(The most breathtaking fanart by Loweana!)
Okay, so basically a brief summary is that Jude is alone with the new High King of Faerie. Madoc and her parted on bad terms, Oak is in hiding with Vivi, Taryn is to be married to Locke, Balekin is locked up, and Cardan is *clutches pearls forever* the new king. Yet, he must listen to everything Jude says because of a trick she played on him, but all of us know how quickly a year can pass and things can change. Especially since the Queen of the Undersea, Orlagh, is thinking about breaking the treaty with the fae folk on land, since she isn’t too sure about the new ruler. And she plans to use her daughter, Nicasia, any way that she can to help secure her place of power in the fae realm. And all the courts are coming together to see if Cardan really can lead and protect them.
“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”
And everyone is plotting in this book, I swear. The phrase “twists and turns” doesn’t even begin to describe the events that happen in this book. The political intrigue is so strong in this book. You won’t know who or what to believe, and you surely won’t know who to trust. And all these storylines come together to create something so beautiful. This book was a wild ride from page one to the very last page. Actually, especially the very last page.
And I know everyone has already made a very big deal about the end of this book, and they aren’t wrong. You all thought The Cruel Prince cliffhanger was bad? Oh, sweet summer children. And, obviously, I won’t spoil anything, but there are so many different ways to interpret what happened. I’m going to be vague, but when you love someone or something, you will protect it at all costs. Also, the juxtaposition from book one to book two? Probably the best thing I’ve ever read in my entire life.
Okay, I’m going to do a little break down for some of the characters in this book. You know, just so I can gush, fangirl, and truly be the hot mess that this book proves that I am. Also, Roiben plays a huge role in this story, which was such a wonderful surprise and I really wanted to mention it!
(My favorite fanart(s) by PhantomRin!)
➽ Jude Duarte - My heart, my true love, my icon, my queen. Jude is my favorite protagonist and I would honestly die for her. Like, all I want in this life is for Jude to he happy, healthy, loved, and know that she is deserving of that love.
“I’ve wanted this and feared it, and now that it’s happening, I don’t know how I will ever want anything else.”
➽ Cardan Greenbriar - And Cardan is probably my favorite character in literature. There, I said it. Are you happy now? Also, this book has a minor scene that really led me to believe that Cardan is pan or bi and the scream I screamed upon reading. (I’m so sorry, neighbors, if you’re reading this!) I thought I was too old or just completely over the concept of “book boyfriends” until Cardan Greenbriar decided to be created.
➽ Nicasia - I’m not even going to waste my finger strength. Bitch, bye.
➽ Locke - Okay, say what you want, but Locke is like the greatest antagonist of all time. I am not sure I’ve ever loved to hate a character as much as I absolutely love to hate him. I also completely believe that he’s going to be the “big bad” of this series, eventually. The half-brother development is going to come into play.
“I wish he hadn’t used me to test my sister’s love for him. I wish she hadn’t let him.”
➽ Taryn Duarte - Friends, I have a lot of feels. But I’m just going to say that I want few things in life as much as I want the novella, The Lost Sisters, that comes out October 2nd, 2018. I think it’s going to completely shatter everything we know about Taryn, and I’m ready for it.
Oh, and in case I haven’t gushed enough, the romance in this series is my favorite romance of all-time. And like, I don’t say that lightly. I thought in The Cruel Prince that it might have been because I just love fae stories so much. But while reading The Wicked King I realized that it’s just because this is the best enemies to lovers in the history of the trope. I mean, sex is great and all, but have you ever shipped Jude and Cardan more than any relationship you’ve ever personally been in? Because, same. I honestly don’t even know how I’m functioning, let alone sitting at my desk typing this review, after reading the Queen of Mirth scene. Seriously, Holly Black is a fae queen, none of us are deserving, and her words are magical.
“You are my dearest punishment.”
But this is also a book all about power, and the ugly things people are willing to do for it. Yet, it’s also about love, and all the beautiful, selfless, hopeful, hopeless, heartwarming, heartbreaking things we are willing to do for it. I honestly feel like the heart of this story is about sacrifice; the things we do for our family, our loved ones, and for ourselves. There is a lot of good on these pages. And I know this is a whimsical, magical book all about fae, but a lot of themes and messages carry over really beautifully.
“It’s easy to put your own life on the line, isn’t it? To make peace with danger. But a strategist must sometimes risk others, even those we love.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy reading a book as I’ve been reading The Wicked King. Also, I seriously pretty much reread this while writing this review. Like, I opened my book back up to grab some quotes that I tabbed, and I seriously had to stop myself from consuming the whole entire story all over again. Without a doubt in my mind, I will read this again before release. It’s just that much of a masterpiece, in every single sense of the word.
“He looks at me as though we share secrets, although we don’t. We don’t share anything.”
Overall, this review doesn’t do this book or my feelings justice. I have no word combination for how much this book, this series, and this author means to me. Yet, if you peak inside my heart, you might see my loved ones, coffee, video games, tattoos, Frank Ocean, and The Wicked King by Holly Black. Not only is this my favorite book of 2018, it’s one of my favorite things in life. And Cardan and Jude honestly have the best sexual tension in existence. I could read about them forever, with no pay off even, and I’d just ask for more.
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Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, bullying, abandonment, captivity, abuse, talk of past child abuse, and for violence in general.
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
(Thank you so much, Diana. You will never know how much this means to me, but I promise I'll cherish this ARC forever. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you! 💖)
Power is so much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.
So I'm officially ADDICTED.
I can't say for sure what makes a good fantasy book for other people but, for me, these books are like crack. I'm like Fever series-level addicted right now and I don't know how I can possibly wait for book three.
Also: Cardan is evil and terrible and I am in love with him. I wish I was sorry.
This book got me so good. The banter and sexual tension between Jude and Cardan had me on the edge of my seat, all googly-eyed like a schoolgirl with a crush. The political machinations, lying and backstabbing are all so damn thrilling. I saw literally nothing coming, though I don't know if that was the author's genius or just because I was too immersed in the story to play detective.
I'll keep this vague for those who haven't read The Cruel Prince yet. This book picks up where the last left off - Jude has negotiated herself into a position of power and she fully intends to exploit it. The dynamic between her and Cardan has to be the sexiest I have read in a very long time. I like that they are both powerful people, both a little morally-questionable, because it makes all the love/hate angst so much fun. I dislike when one character in a relationship holds all the power and uses it against the other, but these two are equals (for better and for worse).
"For a moment," he says, "I wondered if it wasn't you shooting bolts at me."
I make a face at him. "And what made you decide it wasn't?"
He grins up at me. "They missed."
Though, I also love all the characters. I love Madoc and the strange relationship between him, Taryn, and Jude - he is their father figure, and yet he also murdered their parents. I love Vivi because she just knows "Revenge is sweet but ice cream is sweeter." I love the Bomb, and all the villains.
You know, this is exactly how I enjoy romance - tucked away behind action, kidnappings and betrayal. There's actually a really compelling plot here, full of twists and surprises and the threat of war, and it only serves to make the sexy banter more thrilling when we are finally treated to it. Holly Black is such a tease.
And she's also evil. It's not right to call the ending a cliffhanger, and yet it is so deliciously evil. I am dying to know what happens next.
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At this point, I don’t know why the rest of us even try. I think I’m going to go into a coma until QUEEN OF NOTHING.
"I want to tell you so many lies."
A billion spiteful stars.
Everything hurts, and no, I'm not okay. Holly is a delightfully cruel author and I love and hate her for it. It's very confusing. I'm not sure I can write this review as a 'sane' person but I'll try. Disclosure: spoilers for the first book, but not for this one!
"Your ridiculous family might be surprised to find that not everything is solved by murder," Locke calls after me.
"We would be surprised to find that," I call back.
So, we still have Jude, who is as pleasant as ever as she schemes restlessly to keep the power she stole at the end of the first book. Not only does she have to keep Cardan, who is... well, the same Cardan we all came to love, in check, but she now has to deal with the entire court who would love nothing more than to do away with her.
But let's start with our favorite resident princeling.
"You've won yourself a year and a day," he told me. "But a lot can happen in a year and a day. Give me all the commands you want, but you'll never think of everything."
Cardan, while utterly himself, continued to surprise me. He's one of those unpredictable wildcard characters, and though nothing he does is really 'surprising', he still leaves you baffled and scratching your head at every turn. But the best part? His relationship with Jude is tense, angsty, full of 'what even just happened' moments, and ahhh, I can't say much more but it was so DAMN fun.
Maybe grab a fan.
"I wondered if it wasn't you shooting bolts at me."
I make a face at him. "And what made you decide it wasn't?"
He grins up at me. "They missed."
You never quite know what he has up his sleeve or his true intentions, and trust me, he'll leave you guessing until the very end - not to mention, he might be a tad more powerful than we all expected.
"Surely you have noticed that since his reign began, the isles are different. Storms come in faster. Colors are a bit more vivid, smells are sharper."
Then we have Madoc, Jude's 'stepfather' whom she totally betrayed and made a fool of at the end of the first book. As you can guess, he's not thrilled. So not only is Madoc and the rest of Jude's 'family' on edge and trying to get their clutches on her, we have the rest of the faerie court, all of whom are suuuuper suspicious as to why Cardan has Jude by his side all the time. Oh, and then there's Locke, who is still... awful. And he... of course... causes problems. As he does.
Basically, everyone wants to take Jude down.
As if that isn't enough, we have our lovely albeit rotten Queen of the Sea and her oh-so-sweet daughter, Nicasia, both of whom hate Jude with a fiery passion.
I'm not going to lie - this book is 90% court intrigue, scheming, and angst, which if you know me, that's all I could ever want. If you aren't into that, you might not love it as much as I did. It isn't as if a TON happens, but for me, it never ceased to entertain. Holly is brilliant, not only with her words and one-liners but with her planning and characterization.
Jude continues to be a unique, rage-filled yet somehow relatable character who stands out in the YA market. She's fiery, witty, mean, and yet she still finds a way to burrow into your heart. That's good writing, folks. She's easily one of my favorite characters ever, and I can't help but love her no matter what decisions she makes.
Full of twists and turns, I couldn't put it down. So many scenes are like a punch in the face, while others made me feel like I was DROWNING, scrambling for air. If you thought the first book was cruel, you-know-nothing-John-Snow.
Because that ending.
This is your warning.
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