by Holly Black
Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10
Summary: Jude Duarte, kingmaker, has been secretly ruling Faerie for five months. Five months of politics, meetings, parties, correspondences, petitions, training, and banquets all while keeping the reluctant High King Cardan, in line and trying to find a way to extend their bargain so she can keep her power. But then Jude finds herself in the Undersea and captive to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. With no means to escape, Jude must hope that Cardan tires of ruling without her help and comes to rescue her before he loses the kingdom to his murderous brother Balekin.
7 Weleful Things about Holly Black’s “The Wicked King”
(May Contain Spoilers)
Characters in The Folk of the Air series are complex, believable, and relatable. Not one character is absolutely good or evil. The main protagonist Jude is power hungry and manipulative. Taryn, her good-natured, well-behaved sweet sister betrays her for a boy. And even Balekin, who is mostly an evil bastard, has some redeeming qualities.
2. The Undersea
Faerieland in The Folk of the Air is enchanting and magical. Filled with countless beings of all shapes, sizes, and colors, it is apparent that Holly Black was inspired by many different myths, legends, and folklore about faeries. In “The Wicked King” readers get to experience more of the land of Faerie and get to see the world of the Undersea and more of Orlagh’s merpeople and selkies.
Holly Black keeps a fast pace in “The Wicked King” with political intrigue, deceptions, and manipulations. Readers are left not sure on who to trust and trying to figure out who is pulling the strings on whom. With a fantastic imagination, Black blasts us through this Faerieland adventure that is hard to put down.
Cardan really starts to grow into a more likable character in “The Wicked King.” Not only is he embracing not being cruel but he begins to understand that as a king, he does have some responsibilities to his people. And thankfully, it seems that the land accepts Cardan.
5. Jude & Cardan
Probably this readers favorite aspect of The Folk of the Air series as she is a sucker for romance, the relationship between Jude and Cardan is exhilarating and frustrating. Both of them have feelings for each other but are both so afraid of rejection and getting hurt that they are constantly denying their feelings and are pretty volatile towards each other. And then without talking about their feelings they just went ahead and got married. Idiots.
This reader would like to take a moment to celebrate that this asshole is dead, hoorah! Manipulative, sadistic, murderous, deceptive, abusive, the list could go on. Balekin was clearly a villain and yet, Cardan couldn’t bring himself to have him executed. This shows how unmonstrous Cardan actually is and that for all the outward appearance of being cold and uncaring, he is actually soft-hearted and feels deeply. It also reminds readers that it was Balekin who took Cardan in when he was abandoned by their father because of a prophecy.
Jude’s adventure concludes in Book 3 of The Folk of the Air series, “The Queen of Nothing.”