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The Folk of the Air #2

The Wicked King

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You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself that strong.

Jude 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 biddable. 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 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.

326 pages, Paperback

First published January 8, 2019

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About the author

Holly Black

175 books92.5k followers
Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,174 reviews98.8k followers
November 8, 2019

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! 💖)

[Reread: January, 2019]
This is still such a masterpiece, and I loved rereading this with Lea! ❤
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 9, 2020
I have read my way through 315 books to bring you my Top 10 Books of the Year (video) .

Now you know that this one made the cut, check out my video review to see the others!

Once upon a time, there was a human girl stolen away by faeries, and because of that, she swore to destroy them.
Just a quick note - I got my copy from Owl Crate - this company had a wonderful monthly book subscription box along with a few special editions that I just cannot pass up!

This was everything I hoped it could be, and more.

Jude, a human raised in Faerieland, spent her entire life undermined and controlled by the often cruel whims of the Faeries.

She's hated and feared the creatures for years. She's cowered and fled from them. She's begged and bargained her way out of torture.

Not anymore.

Especially considering she now controls all of Faerieland.

A few months ago, Jude was horrified to learn that her younger step-brother, Oak, is heir to the Faerie thrown. So Jude did whatever she could to save him from an early death, and that included doing something she never dreamed possible.
"So," I said. "You enjoy being my pawn?"
He grinned lazily..."For now."
She manipulated Cardan, a faerie prince, into making an oath of fealty to her, and then tricked him onto the thrown - in Oak's place.

Jude has a year and a day to command the new High King as she wishes and to plot further methods to keep Oak safe.

And with that power comes a safety Jude has never known. And she learns that she likes it. She craves it. And she will do anything in her power to keep her position.
“I’ve wanted this and feared it, and now that it’s happening, I don’t know how I will ever want anything else.”
But, her once simple plan seems to be fraying.

There are traitors all around, the sea is fighting the land, and Jude's life is threatened from every angle.
It seems hopeless to fight something so vast. It seems ridiculous to believe we can win.
The longer she holds High King under her thumb, the less she knows and the more attached she grows.
What has changed? Is he different because I have forced him to be?...Or is he no different at all and I am only seeing what I want to see?
Meanwhile, King Cardan has his own plans and schemes - and he sets several in motion, and no amount of commands from Jude could possible stop them all.

And among those devious plots is something decidedly...new. Something for which Jude had no plots or plans against. Something shocking and crazy. Something utterly insane
"It seems I have a singular taste for women who threaten me."
The wicked High King seems to be changing into something...something wholly different.
Kiss me until I am sick of it.
No matter what happens, Jude must remain focused. For one step, one toe out of line and she could be snuffed out in an instance.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out


Those of you who have read it, am I right or am I right?

Those of you who haven't read it, what in the h*ll are you doing reading a review when you can be reading this book?

In short - the sequel was everything I wished for and more. I cannot believe that it was this good.

I have fallen in love with all of the characters twofold.

Jude has matured wonderfully and her schemes are so intricate that all I can do is lean back and be impressed.

Cardan, the Wicked King, is absolutely wicked in the best way possible. I don't have enough words in the world to describe how in love I am with him.

The way Jude and Cardan dance around each other actually made my heart race - I don't think I've ever been this invested in a relationship before. Simply magical.

Speaking of magic - wow! The world of Faerie a la Holly Black is (as always) absolutely stunning. I love, love, love the way she weaves such a complicated web. I could read her world over and over and never be tired of it.

The plot was fabulous, the way it slowly picked up speed and that ending - whew. I'm still reeling. I cannot get over everything that happened. Couldn't tear my eyes away!

Also, I have a theory about the end:

Simply put, Holly Black is Queen .

Mortal girls do not become queens of Faerieland.
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Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
260 reviews4,948 followers
September 9, 2018
"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.

The pain.

This is your warning.

Prepare yourself.

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Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
April 11, 2020
someone: why do you like this book
me, deep in an elaborate fantasy sequence in which Jude forces me onto a throne for her own selfish gain and is an ambitious bitch to me and treats me terribly but also we have a lot of sexual tension: uhhhhh well I just really like the plot twists

Okay but for real. I already talked a lot about why I loved The Cruel Prince, so I guess I’ll just give a quick summary: antiheroes, court intrigue, power plays, and a fish out of water in a world full of monsters - but this time, she’s determined to seize the same power. And it’s badass.

Jude… is so great. She's seriously becoming one of my favorite fictional characters of all time, and I don't really know how? Her narrative voice is so strong, shaping and characterizing the world around her. The strength of her voice perfectly counteracts the desperation we see within her to cling to power, to not give up the few gains she has made. She's so delightfully unlikable and yet manages to gain audience sympathy at every moment.

The side characters here are particularly great. I particularly like the relationship between the Bomb & the Roach; the backstory we got for them here was excellent. Vivi is as fantastic as ever, but I actually love what was done with her character [I’ll talk about this later]. The Wicked King is also pushed up by a series of interesting villains; while I am emphatically not a Locke or Nicasia fan, Taryn is intriguing and I want more of her, and Madoc is always a delight. Oh, and then there’s Cardan, the Sort Of Love Interest, who I find both incredibly compelling and very dislikable.

I think what I’m most fascinated about with this book is how it plays with the dynamic of humans wresting whatever power they can. The idea of fairies not understanding the stakes of their own world on the level that human characters do. Vivi, as someone who grew up a fairy, does not understand how Jude was affected by her childhood - she was never charmed, or manipulated, or forced to play the games that Jude was. And the dynamic between Cardan and Jude is perfect; Jude clinging to the little power she has over Cardan, and Cardan being under someone’s thumb, just one more time.

I’m not sure how I felt about parts of the dynamic between Cardan and Jude; there’s a continuous lack of dictated consent in their interactions, which makes sense for the situation and is still bothersome. But also, I’m kind of obsessed with their relationship. They have so much sexual tension and it kills me. I cannot wait to see where it goes.

And also, guys, there were so many fucking plot twists I’m laughing. i have no idea how I even felt about the final twist but literally everything else was so fucking legit and I screamed about eight times reading this book.

Basically, that was everything I liked about The Cruel Prince, but like... more. Jude is seriously one of my favorite fictional characters ever and the plot twists killed me and I'm super into the romance. And in unrelated news I’m going into a coma now [@Holly you know what you did] and I'll see you all... next year. If I'm not dead yet.

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Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.6k followers
April 17, 2023
I do not know what is becoming of me.

At the time I read this book, I had a 2.94 average rating. (Before you ask - yes, my heart is made of ice and pain and suffering and knives.) I so frequently have unpopular opinions that I made a shelf for them (so they can band together in their unpopularity and become friends). I eat YA bestsellers for breakfast.

I didn’t even like the first book in this series!

And yet...I kind of enjoyed reading this book?!

I didn’t even mean to ever pick it up!

If you put me in a library and tell me said library is closing in 45 minutes and also that after that it will be closed for at least two weeks (but really for the foreseeable future), things happen.

I may, for example, pick up the sequel to a book I did not like, for some reason operating under the belief that I had intended to read it.

Apparently, my reward for such stressful experiences is CONFUSION.

I can’t even put into words why I didn’t hate this.

I mean, I hate these characters.

Jude is annoying (I did not care for Feyre at all, and while she is not Feyre levels of nightmare material, she does belong to the same Vaguely Badass With Very Few Other Traits character family).

Cardan is just...simply the It’s Okay That I’m An Asshole Because I Have A Tragic Past trope, dialed allll the way up to abusive.

Throw them together into a toxic yucky will-they-won’t-they romance and you should have a fail-proof recipe to make me hate a book.


Plus there were a million tiny little annoying things of the variety that tend to warrant a whole page in a seven-page rant review.

Like any of the emotional reactions of any character, none of which make sense.

Or so many of the things Jude does. Jude’s actions are nonsense to me. The girl wears a mask of her own face to a masquerade where she’s supposed to be disguised? She says she can’t think of the words to command Cardan when literally “I command you to ____” would do the trick? She’s a full-on idiot at some points and a war-planning master of strategy at others?

I don’t get it.

But, at the same time…I had so much fun reading this????

At a certain point, I was like “I should get back to reading The Wicked King. I wonder why I’m so into reading it? It’s not like I like it....oh wait holy sh*t oh my god I like it. I’m ruined. My reputation is in shambles. I will be mocked in the side streets and back alleys of the online book community.”

But even worse, that cliffhanger at the end...I didn’t even intend to read this book and then suddenly all I can think about is finishing the series????

What is HAPPENING to me.

Bottom line: A book so fun it’ll cause an identity crisis.

That’s the Emma Guarantee (™).


so, to recap:
- i hate these characters
- i'm not a fan of the writing
- many parts of this made me roll my eyes


i enjoyed reading it????


review to come / 3 stars

currently-reading updates

yes, i am reading this book.

no, i did not like The Cruel Prince.

we exist
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,993 reviews298k followers
January 17, 2023
Update Jan 8, 2019: It's here!
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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Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 8 books76.8k followers
February 2, 2019

Estoy SHOOK.

Cardan, iré a buscarte para asesinarte personalmente (pero lowkey ya te amo).

Estoy sorprendida, chicos. Pensé que este libro no me iba a gustar, pero Holly Black lo hizo de nuevo, las últimas páginas del libro estuvieron UFFF, intensas. INTENSAS.

De hecho, la primera mitad del libro me aburrió, pero ya entrando a la segunda mitad todo se pone buenísimo, plot twist tras plot twist.

Ahora, Cardan y Jude.

Jude: En el primer libro no me cayó muy bien, y en este también estaba teniendo problemas para empatizar con ella, PERO algo cambió y muy repentinamente (esto no fue poco a poco) ya me estaba encariñando con ella. Al final lloré de coraje por las injusticias cometidas hacia Jude. Creo que se merece felicidad. Y merece saber que merece ser feliz, porque no tiene idea.

Cardan: Bye, me enamoré (?). Ni tanto, jajajaja. O sea, es que Cardan se me hacía un ser despreciable. Era cruel y simplemente cruel, y me desesperaba mucho. Pero en este segundo libro mostró un poco de bondad y de sus sentimientos, y con eso me ganó. Y es que me gusta que no sea el chico malo que en realidad es todo soft y amoroso, NO, Cardan de verdad es cruel, y le cuesta mostrar bondad, entonces, cuando lo hace, me cautiva. Es un personaje moralmente gris y puessss... quiero golpearlo de todos modos.

Cardan y Jude como pareja: Me ganaron. Los shippeo. En el primer libro pensé que jamás podría llegar a shippearlos, pero con este ME CONVENCIERON. Lo que me frustra es que en verdad les cuesta ser sinceros y aceptar sus sentimientos, PERO SEÑORES, AHÍ HAY AMOR VERDADERO.

Y pues el final chicos, solo puedo decir que a veces, el amor nos hace hacer hasta lo impensable por proteger a esa persona. Y eso creo yo que pasó.

Obvio necesito el siguiente libro, espero que Cardan y Jude sean felices. Todos los demás puede irse mucho muy lejos :). Bye.

PD: Esto lo escribí desde el celular, jajaja, ay.
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
February 19, 2019
This sequel was SPECTACULAR! I think I enjoyed it even more than book one!

CW: violence, murder, death, torture

Holly Black has done it again. She’s revered as the “Queen of Faeries” for a reason – the dark folklore behind the world she has created has the power to disturb you and also enchant you. I’ve reach much of her work, but The Wicked King impressed me in a new way. Holly’s prose is so delicate yet forceful. I was captivated throughout the entire novel by her writing alone. That, combined with an expansive magical universe and suspenseful plot made it one of the most notable fantasy books I’ve read in quite some time.

I’m aware I’m the odd one out here, but I do not care for Jude & Cardan’s relationship whatsoever. They’re both incredibly complex characters with undeniable chemistry, but I just personally could not care less about a romance between them. I feel I’d view the book identically if they were archenemies, friends, or just strict allies. Personally, it’s just not what draws me in to The Folk of the Air.

What DOES draw me to the series is the plot and political intrigue. I’m woefully obsessed with Holly Black’s ability to create unique political tensions and guide a society through the brink of war. There were so many scenes strewn throughout the novel the had my “eyes glued to the page” (or rather, my ears glued to my headphones – the audiobook is super immersive!) I cannot get enough of the scheming, vengeance, and betrayal coming from every corner of story.

Though The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King have shown to both be polarizing reads, I found the second installment to be equally as satisfying as the first. It’s a series consistent in it’s quality, therefore if you enjoyed the first, I believe the second will be just as fulfilling. The Folk of the Air continues to be one of my auto-recommendations for gripping and sophisticated fantasy series.
Profile Image for • Lindsey Dahling •.
325 reviews643 followers
November 19, 2019
Me, 99% of the book, watching Jude and Cardan interact:

Me, during 1% of the book (if you’ve read it, YOU KNOW WHICH PART):

Me, closing the back cover, lying to myself:

Me, explaining to a therapist how I’ll be just fine as soon as Holly Black releases this hold she has on me:
Profile Image for chai ♡.
322 reviews156k followers
January 10, 2022
Dear Holly Black,

First of all, how dare you?

Second of all, you are NOT supposed to go around burying rusty knives into people's hearts. That's illegal. This is illegal. Please stop writing illegal stuff.

Thank you.



P.S. Will Cardan ever get a break? Or just like, therapy?
Profile Image for Kat.
270 reviews80k followers
January 12, 2020
jude duarte if you see this im free thursday night are you free thursday night to hang out on thursday night if you’re free i’d like to hang out thursday night please message me back if you’re free thursday night when i am free
Profile Image for Victoria Aveyard.
Author 26 books67.1k followers
April 14, 2018
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.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
January 20, 2019
‘i want to tell you so many lies.’

hello, police? hi, yes, i would like to report a crime, specifically a murder… what murder? oh, well, you see, holly black has singlehandedly torn out my heart, ripped it to shreds, and then lit it on fire.

this book has ruined all other books for me this year. until the release of ‘the queen of nothing’ (that title alone is killing me all over again), i will be crying myself into a deep, dark, and healing hibernation. someone wake me up in 2020. maybe then i will be able to write a more substantial review. but until then, im useless.

5 stars
Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,751 followers
August 24, 2022
I hate this book.

I hate it so much I can’t stop thinking about it. I hate it enough to wanna make 100 accounts to rate it one star over & over again.

But I won’t, not because that’s immoral but because there can’t be hate unless there is love. There can’t be loss unless there is need. There can’t be hurt unless there is care.

“I hate you,” I say, the words coming out like a caress. I say it again, over and over. A litany. An enchantment. A ward against what I really feel.

So really, it’s my own damn fault. I all but handed Holly Black a gilded dagger, turned my back, and begged her to please please stab me right in the feels, going so far as to give her directions to the place just south of my hopes and slightly north of my dreams.

I am Jude and this book is my Wicked King.

And there is no better way, absolutely none, to convey how it feels to read its every page, every brush of ink, every curve and crease, than to quote the book itself: It has all the sinister pleasure of sneaking out of the house, all the revolting satisfaction of stealing. It reminds me of the moment before I slammed a blade through my hand, amazed at my own capacity for self-betrayal. (Please do excuse me for stealing lines—I do so because I am an inadequate piece of human soul and incapable of competing with the Faerie Queen who wrote this pure trove of gems).

“Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.”

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: People don’t paint this series as it truly is. The Folk of the Air is not a light, romantic fairytale, however addictive; it’s a dark and deadly one—less a page-turner and more a temptress. It’s about tricks and snares, games and intrigue and pain and, above all else, power. Infectious, greedy, alluring power.

And that, all of that, weaves itself through every nook, around every thread of the books. It hugs Jude’s curves and flies from her lips, slides along Cardan’s tail and between his clever clasp. It wraps its hungry grasp around the characters, bathing, entombing, suffocating. And it, quite gloriously, circles the dynamics and bonds, twisting and blurring the lines of love and hate, want and fear, until it is one with its every angle, dip, and chip. I guess it makes sense some would mistake one for the other.

Isak Danielson’s song Power (which you can find on my book playlist) is The Wicked King incarnate and why oh why didn’t I listen when people told me NOT to finish it before an exam and went ahead to do just that? Sigh, I’m a fool, yes, but a fool for Jude and Cardan. And that never ceases to be an honour.

“Things are always super dramatic around here,” Vivi tells Heather. “Epic. Everyone acts as though they just stepped out of a murder ballad.”

As I called this book a pure trove of gems, I will proceed to refer to the treasures as the four most precious gemstones:

Black Diamond: Jude Duarte

“Once upon a time, there was a human girl stolen away by faeries, and because of that, she swore to destroy them.”

I will fight every single person who dares call my Jude annoying or unbearable and anything else in the thesaurus for those adjectives. She is the definition of a brilliant badass queen and I am willing to rip throats to prove it. Metaphorically, of course.

In The Cruel Prince she evolved from the girl who wanted to impress and fit in and fight for honour, to a ruthless, power-hungry, scheming star, and in this sequel her shine multiplies a thousandfold; so I suggest you all shield your eyes before you go blind from her magnificence. Exploring her hatred of vulnerability, her need for control, and her insistence on relentlessly pushing and pushing herself both physically and mentally to the brink of collapse until she’s achieved perfection and utter independence, made me relate to her on a level that bordered on discomfort, if comfort really had any meaning (at least to me) and I wasn’t such a self-absorbed bastard.

The sheer will. That, right there, is my most adored trait in human or faerie, reality or fiction.

“You’re unwinding yourself like a spool. What happens when there’s no more thread?”
“Then I spin more.”

Anger or fear? Fear or anger? Jude would argue anger (unsurprisingly, that is, her being a furious hurricane and all) and I happen to agree. Both are overwhelming emotions that can drown and paralyse and turn one into a fool, while both can also motivate and embolden and turn one into a champion. However, there is a certain strand of arrogance interwoven with amger that fear happens to lack. And, you all know me, I would pick anger over fear any day.

So I can do nothing less than shout my love for her from the rooftops, no mountains, as Jude takes the hurt and weakness the Folk carved into her flesh and bone, adds it to the stew of her desire to be magic like them mixed with her obsessive knowledge of their rules and their ways and the music of their strings as they are pulled and plucked, and sprinkles it with a formidable amount of pleasure from the power and the dance and determination to learn and excel, watching it all bubble and burn. She is certainly my favourite cook, because she is better at being worse than them. Never, ever underestimate my little murderer’s strength, her skill at strategy, and her capacity for cruelty.

Lastly, I want to raise a glass to the question Holly raises with this book: Is it good, or bad, for a ruler to contain those cutting, cunning impulses? Answer that as you will.

Cat’s Eye Emerald: Cardan Greenbriar

“Have you never heard that virtue is its own reward?�� Cardan says pleasantly. “That’s because there’s no other reward in it.”

Ahhhh, I am in love with this wicked king (while wanting to strangle him to death and back, ofc) and I’m not even sorry.

I stand by my point in my review of The Cruel Prince that his most important difference from most wicked charming boys (or girls) in books, is his absolute lack of ambition. Hell, that’s also the main difference between him and Jude. This small (perhaps inconsequential to most fans) detail is so ridiculously highlighted for me because it makes him endearing and unique and helplessly adorable, adding to his irresistible charm as he languishes on life, and why am I swooning right now ugh.

The Wicked King is undoubtedly the best installment in this trilogy and one of the reasons for that is Cardan’s beautiful, heart-stopping growth as a character. He goes from a person commited to, as Jude would put it, “being a layabout who does none of the real work of governance,” to finding himself, his resolve, mettle, fight—whatever you want to call it—because of how his feeling of powerlessness and fear trickle away, drip by drip, as he no longer has someone to inflame (Jude excluded). And, mostly, because of Jude pushing him unwittingly.

He learns to own it.

“The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock.” Cardan gives us all a stern look, holding up a long-fingered hand with my stolen ruby ring still on one finger. “Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder.”

I could go on for two more paragraphs about why he seems to “have a singular taste for women who threaten” him and why and how a certain type of power dynamic appeals to our dear twisted fearie as it, honestly, does to most of the messed up characters in this series, but I won’t bore you anymore with my psychological talk. I will just go ahead and carve a Cardan-shaped chamber deep in my cold, dark heart to trap this clever, cutting, shameless, straightforward yet playful boy and protect him at all costs.

Burmese Ruby: The Jurdan Ship

“If you’re the sickness, I suppose you can’t also be the cure.”

I mean whoever wasn’t already abroad this ship should be careful because I might kindly push them overboard for being late to the party (let’s ignore the fact that I was also late to the general party shh). If book one was them warming up for the match, book two is them sparring at full swing and I am here for it. And “what is sparring but a game of strategy, played at speed?” So just as he is wary of her, bracing for her next blow while enjoying the game and trusting her completely, he is also going to land blows. Really, it’s only fair.

“I have heard that for mortals, the feeling of falling in love is very like the feeling of fear. Your heart beats fast. Your senses are heightened. You grow light-headed, maybe even dizzy.”

I think my second favourite aspect of their relationship (after the games and sparring match) is how their need and attraction and glimpse of a kindred spirit morphs into denial and fury and fiery hatred as they run away from the feeling they despise lacing through their love, all while being helpless to do so. Running at full speed on the tilted ground drenched with a rain of pain and desire, Cardan has already slipped. It’s Jude’s turn to do so.

“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”

Now, I’m going to make a confession. I was as stupefyingly petrified of their dynamic shifting as Jude was. Every step he took beyond her control, every claim he made to his own self, every fistful of power he dug up, I found myself screaming no no just as much as I cheered his growth. Because I understand her fear of being out of control and powerless, and do not want him to hold more power than Jude. And that fear is idiotic and unfair, because the fact that one’s power should come out of another’s powerlessness needs to give everyone pause.

He has capered while she schemed, it’s time for them to learn to be equals, with mutual trust even in their game of chess, having faith in the fact that their opponent and partner will never land a killing blow.

“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.”

Violet Sapphire: Rest of the Rabble

“Like the ant in the fable who labors in the dirt while the grasshopper sings the summer away.”
“And has nothing left for winter,” I say.
“I need for nothing,” he says, shaking his head, mock-mournful. “I am the Corn King, after all, to be sacrificed so little Oak can take my place in the spring.”

Storytelling: I might’ve read only one trilogy by Holly Black, but I can safely say she is one true Weaver; taking the tale by the throat, dunking it in an ocean of vocabulary and punctuations, and threading the water and words into whorls of magic and enchantment. Thank you, Holly, for weaving waves of wailing tales for us.

Worldbuilding: No words can capture and frame my love for this mystical, fairytaleish land of exotic, quiet allure, so I’m not even gonna try.

“I’m still your father.”
“You’re my father’s murderer,” I blurt out.
“I can be both,” Madoc says, smiling, showing those teeth.

Madoc: I could not tear my gaze away from this messed up father-daughter relationship. He, the monster who took everything from Jude, also gave her a new life, pushed her to her fullest potential (even while underestimating her), encouraged her fire (even while beating her down), was all is she had. And I lived for how thoroughly this facet of this dark tapestry, this theme of moving past and beyond the power of the person who raised you, burns throughout the book.
P.S. Pain makes you strong? Sith much?

“Your ridiculous family might be surprised to find that not everything is solved by murder,” Locke calls after me.
would be surprised to find that,” I call back.

Taryn the Betrayer: I argued in my review of The Lost Sisters that Taryn likes the games and adventure and power play and is fierce enough to claim her own tale (while being hypocritical enough to deny it). And she does. But doesn’t mean she is not weak, because she is that, too. She escapes confrontation and discomfort like a sunflower constantly turning towards the sun to flee the darkness—and I’ve never much liked sunflowers. This adaptability is exactly what fascinates Locke, and this weakness is just what takes apart the trust between these two lost sisters.

Locke the F***ing Fox: I know everyone hates and wants to kill this guy, but I can’t resist bringing him back to life after choking him for more of his playful, dangerous-but-fun fox games of backstabbing delight. *sheepish smile*

“Revenge is sweet, but ice cream is sweeter.”

Vivi the Humanlover: A moment’s appreciation for mt defiant yet chill, loving yet selfish knight-at-heart.

Fala the Fool: Putting him here because NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE FOR THIS GEM WHY. K I’mma truly shut up now bye.


Book series playlist: Spotify URL

Books in series:
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) ★★★★★
The Lost Sisters (The Folk of the Air, #1.5) ★★★★☆
➳ The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) ★★★★★
The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3) ★★★★☆
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5) ☆☆☆☆☆
Profile Image for  Teodora .
331 reviews1,772 followers
April 15, 2023
4.5/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺
“Because, for a moment, when I was at my worst, I felt powerful, and most of the time, I felt powerless.”

What that ending was, I have no idea, but I turned from crying out of pure candid joy to crying out of frustration.

With this book, the whole The Folk of the Air trilogy goes from 0 to 100 really quick. I could feel an increase of the pacing in the first book (which was packed with action), a pace that was a bit slowed down in this one, but it picked up towards the end.

This book has fantastic action.

“A king is a living symbol, a beating heart, a star upon which Elfhame’s future is written.”


I started to dislike various characters of this book more than initially.

Taryn was never one of my favourites, but her part in this book makes her look less in my eyes. Even though she seems disturbed herself, she is too naïve and easily manipulated by her absolute desires of normalcy. And she’s stubborn about them too.

Vivi seemed totally great in the first book. I actually came to love her. But in this one, she’s definitely changed. Some of her certain actions do not represent her as they should and so, she’s no less amongst my own personal list of favourites of the book.


Whom I really came to love though are the Roach and the Bomb. I thought at first that they were okay, but after this, OMG, I love them. Especially the Bomb. Like, she’s really cool and knows how to play everything off. And also SHE’S A MASTER OF EXPLOSIVES so she has a popping personality indeed.

“The disturbing thing about Cardan is how well he plays the fool to disguise his own cleverness.”

I’ve already said this but I am going to repeat myself: I AM IN LOVE WITH CARDAN.

He’s still “The boy who still hoped he might be loved”. I love you, Cardan boy, don’t you worry that pretty head of yours.

As the action goes on, I just can’t help but fall in love with him with every chapter. He’s just…such an amazing character that sometimes I feel like he’s the only one who’s been blessed with character depth (even though the characters' own emotional profiles seem to deepen in this book more than in the first one). Cardan just gets better and better and he surprised me with his cunning and wisdom more than once.


“He is ridiculously beautiful as ever, mouth soft, lips slightly parted. Lashes so long that when his eyes are closed they rest against his cheek.”

I can’t get over this portrait of Cardan exposed to us by Jude, who carefully examines the High King’s every move. She’s obviously and furiously in love with him, but aren’t we all? (At least some of us admit it though, unlike others *ahem* Jude)

Their relationship is still weird. I have to say it. But I think that even this weirdness has its own uniqueness, its own interesting trait that I can’t let go of, but I can’t condemn either. It’s something wickedly interesting going on with this pair and I am kind of liking it.

“I hate you so much that sometimes I can't think of anything else.”

After this book, I still like Jude.

Again, she’s a bit annoying sometimes, she is impulsive and tends to be rational until the verge of irrationality. But I am still fond of her. And I kind of understand everything she does because she’s just a mortal girl playing at high life. Even though she’s playing a dangerous and foreign game, she still doesn’t have to know all the moves. I am the type of person figuring things out while on my way of doing them so I am completely understanding Jude and all her discontinuity in life.


I am a bit still not okay with the last 20 pages of the book though. It really made me very emotional and hurt and even though I hated it, I also loved the twist of it.

It was such a good read and all I got left after reading this second book is the feeling of more. By this point, I think it is a bit hard not to love this whole plot. It’s truly fantastic.


Also see:
#1. The Cruel Prince (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
#3. The Queen of Nothing (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Profile Image for caitlin.
147 reviews557 followers
September 1, 2023
she's everything, he's just ken!

hi, my name is caitlin. i have an entire shelf just to keep my candle collection, i've dyed my hair the same color blue as the cover before, and this book almost put me to sleep.

this book is 320 pages long. the first 250 of those are boring. like "1.5 stars" boring. honestly i'm not ever sure why i said 1.5 stars because that's more than 1 and i found just about no redeemable characteristics.
i didn't give a flying fuck about anyone or anything that was happening to them, which, granted, wasn't much. because it was boring.

the last 70 pages were so fun but it literally took me 8 days to read this because the first 250 pages took 7 days.

in part because i don't like holly black's writing. it feels very purple and overly fancy to me. i'm not sure how to say this gently, so i'll just- I NEVER KNEW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. I LIVED IN A STATE OF CONFUSION. WHICH, SURPRISE SURPRISE, MADE THE PLOT FEEL REALLY MESSY TO ME.

her writing feels so overly verbose that i kept getting caught up on that and then consequently confused about what was actually happening, and resigning myself to just not caring about it. and i'm aware that i, myself, write in a pretty ornate fashion, and i'm hardly the biggest, greatest thinker ever, but i can conceptually understand other fantasy books completely fine.

in terms of the characters, i can't say i really care about them either. there was a moment there, in the last 70 or so pages where i thought, "oh, maybe they could be okay, maybe i could like this!" but then it ended and i remembered why i didn't like anyone again.

jude was no fun. though i enjoyed tcp, i didn't like her then and i don't like her now. to be frank, i think she's dumb, or at the very least, acts in dumb ways. i genuinely wish i had more to say about her but i don't. no more insults and no more compliments. she's just kind of... there. and she's the main character so that's a bit of a problem.
i actually made a guess in my review for tcp that while i appreciated the immature, realistic characters, i would not once they got put in positions of power because that's when stupidity turns from funny and real to really annoying. and i was not wrong.

the "politics" everyone loves in this one? girl. what politics. okay, technically, i guess it's politics, but i don't claim her, because a) i didn't understand it, so no i don't love it, i don't even know what's going on. i don't know what day it is or who just died. get your "politics" out of here. and b) it doesn't feel like politics, it feels like children playing dress up. children that don't know what they're doing and DEFINITELY SHOULDN'T BE DOING IT?? it's just a bunch of teenagers that need to be on a bunch of mood stabilizers.

cardan. i liked him more this book. but not until the last, what, 3 pages? he got a personality transplant in the last handful of pages, but other than that he's just boring. really bland. of course i'm happy that people have found another fictional boyfriend to make instagram reels about, i'm really not here to rain on anyone's parade (continues to rain on said parade, sorry about that), but you all say you want a cardan, and i'm like, do you? he's an alcoholic and has the emotional maturity of a twelve year old and somehow still isn't interesting.
oh but actually, i did like some of his backstory that we learned, i thought that was interesting and appreciated that. maybe i did start to like him more after that bit.

the romance. i swear i'm sounding like a broken record to even my own ears, but WHAT ROMANCE?! this is not what i was promised. it's so random. every single time something happened i'd go, "oh, that came out of NOWHERE." why? because they have no chemistry. didn't feel it in the first book, didn't feel it here.
their entire love story is as follows: he bullies her for years (but that's okay because he's troubled and obsessed with her), then one day they randomly kiss, then another day a bit later they randomly fuck. that's it.

and this is not because it’s ya, or more politics than romance, or whatever people say. i’ve read books with less romance that i enjoyed more. it’s not the quantity but the quality that i have an issue with.

i did like it a bit later down the road, in those happy 70 pages, but not because it was natural, just because it got absolutely SHOVED down our throats once holly black decided to change jude's entire internal monologue so she's now horny all the time.

taryn, i actually found interesting in book 1 and the 1.5 novella. now of course she disappeared for all of this book again, so there goes that. she might have betrayed jude again at the end too, and that's just mean. like girl go away.

now, something i do feel strongly about: I HATE VIVI. SHE'S ACTUALLY THE WORST. #FREEHEATHER

br with rowida!
Profile Image for Ali Goodwin.
171 reviews17.3k followers
April 6, 2023
This. Series. I'm becoming obsessed. Getting the third book immediately. I loveddd the tension and chemistry between Jude and Cardan. You know that rare romance that makes your heart hurt because of how badly you want the characters to be together? This book has done that to me.

I'm also lovinggg the politics and world. The dynamics between all of the characters and Jude is so interesting. I never know if I can fully trust anyone. PLUS THE ENDING!! I was literally speechless. I don't know what to think.

Brb. Reading The Queen of Nothing RIGHT NOW
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,559 followers
December 30, 2018
It’s a great feeling to fall in utter love with the first book in a new series, and then anticipate the sequel, and then be offered a chance to read said sequel early, and then to read this book in 24 hours and savour every bit of it. Very few series that I’ve read in my life have hooked me as much as this one. The only downside? The agonizing two year wait for the third book!
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.8k followers
March 25, 2022
Now that I have found in myself a taste for power, will I be loath to give it up?
Jude finally has what she so desperately craves. Now she must do everything she can to hold onto it. But that is no easy task. How was she to know how much harder it is to keep power than it was to take it by force in the first place? After all, she is just a mere mortal in the world of Faerie.

Ah, this series is just so darn satisfying! All the political intrigue and scheming and backstabbing I loved in the first book are back, and now there is even more deception afoot. Usually, all these machinations and power struggles aren't my thing. But it's absolutely riveting here, mostly because it's so clever and I never see it coming.

Every character is as nasty as they were in the first book. It's one of the hallmarks of this series, and it really speaks to the author's ability. It must not be easy to write such morally corrupt characters, yet Holly Black makes them compelling and relatable. Even if I don't agree with their actions, they make sense to me. I understand why they must behave the way they do, so it makes them likable in their own way, even if they aren't inherently good.

The writing is as sharp as ever, with witty barbs and putdowns traded on every page. It's hard to look away. Often, I would slow down to marvel at the dialogue and reread it a few times just to make sure I fully soaked it up.

I have this fear when reading the middle book of a trilogy that it won't be as exciting as the first book (all that setup!) and the last book (the ultimate climax is here!). And this does start off a little bit slow. Not much really happens in the first two-thirds, though it was still an interesting read. Could this be the dreaded middle-book slump?

But I needn't have worried. When we hit the last 100 pages, so much happens, one right after another. I thought I could foresee where it was all going, but I was just fooling myself. I was surprised, again and again. It was so thrilling, with a showstopping finish that perfectly sets up for the next book.

I can't wait for book 3. I already know I'll be sad when this trilogy is over and I'll have to say goodbye.

See also, my thoughts on:
#1. The Cruel Prince

Profile Image for Riley.
429 reviews21.7k followers
January 8, 2019
Dear Holly Black,

How dare you.


I am a mess.
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,098 reviews806 followers
November 21, 2019
Power is so much easier to acquire than it is to hold on to.

I'm not sure if I should be happy or angry?

This book was, undoubtedly, my most anticipated book of the year. But I must confess, it did not quite live up to my expectations. That's not to say it is not a good book, it was just a tad slow for my taste. The book doesn't really pick up until about the 60% mark. After that though, things definitely get interesting.

Main Characters' Ranking:
Jude = Cardan > Madoc = Vivi >> Locke >>>>>>>> Taryn
Previously I disliked Taryn for being weak and complicit, but now I just loathe her for being a lousy, backstabbing, sorry excuse for a sister.

The Relationships:
Madoc & Jude
Even though I know they'll never truly reconcile, some small part of me wishes they would because honestly a Madoc and Jude team-up would be epic. They would have all of Faerie bending to their will. No question.

It is clear that despite her previous betrayal Madoc does still care about Jude and wants her to join his side.
"Does our High King have any idea how good you are at running this kingdom for him?"
"Keep hoping he doesn't"
"Oh, I shall, daughter, much as I hope you will realize how much better it would be if you were to be running it for your own family."

But alas he is still who he is and any sort of personal feelings he may have fall second to his boundless ambition.

Jude & Taryn
If this series somehow ends with Jude easily forgiving Taryn for betraying her AGAIN. I will riot!
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Honestly, this is the reason I did not even bother to read The Lost Sisters. Because any amount of Taryn is too much Taryn for me. I do not care what anyone says about how she has her own way of coping or surviving in Faerie. Because the bottom line is both Jude and Taryn have suffered in this world their whole lives, but only ONE of them has betrayed the other. TARYN. Sure Jude may not have told Taryn her every plan and secret, but never once has Jude intentionally done something to harm Taryn. NOT ONCE. And just when she starts to let her sister back in, Taryn just slaps her in the face with another betrayal.
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Honestly, I am so done with this relationship. May it wither and die.

Jude & Cardan
To put it simply this relationship is a mess. A beautiful mess, but a mess nonetheless. Because once again we're forced to watch truly deeply damaged individuals fight their obviously growing feelings for one another because they lack the fundamental key to a healthy relationship, trust.
On Jude's part:
...that I like him better than I've ever liked anyone and that of all the things he's ever done to me, making me like him so much is by far the most
...and all I want to do is walk into his arms. I want to drown my worries in his embrace. I want him to say something totally unlike himself, about things being okay.
Kill him before he makes you love him
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On Cardan's part:
"Kiss me again, he says, drunk and foolish. "Kiss me until I am sick of it."
"If you're the sickness, I suppose you can't also be the cure."
"I wasn't kind Jude. Not to many people. Not to you. I wasn't sure if I wanted you or if I wanted you gone from my sigh so that I would stop feeling as I did, which made me even more unkind. But when you were gone-truly gone beneath the waves-I hated myself as I never have before."
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These two have the makings of something beautifully tragic. And I suppose the ending of this book makes some people angry. Angry at Cardan. But personally, I found it fitting. A betrayal to answer a betrayal. An eye for an eye. It is the world they live in. The only way to win is to play, and it seems Cardan is finally done taking a backseat. So while I am disappointed our girl got played, I am not mad at Cardan for finally taking his life into his own hands. And that's the tea.
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Sidenote: one running theme I found quite amusing is how often people pointed out Jude's affinity for murder.
For example:
"Your ridiculous family might be surprised to find that not everything is solved by murder."
"We would be surprised to find that."

Cardan-Jude-The Roach-The Bomb
"The three of you have one solution to every problem. Murder. No key fits every lock."
"Someone tries to betray the High King, murder. Someone gives you a harsh look, murder. Someone disrespects you, murder. Someone ruins your laundry, murder."

All-in-all this was a mighty fine read and a great book to kick off my year.

NOTE: My Headcanon came true!!!
Headcanon: Cardan and Jude will continue to have an unwanted, yet undeniable pull and attraction to one another. And one of those times will involve some fun with Cardan's tail.
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Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,291 followers
April 14, 2022
#1 The Cruel Prince ★★★★★
#2 The Wicked King ★★★★★
#3 The Queen of Nothing ???

After the shocking turn of events that finished off The Cruel Prince, Jude is fighting with everything she’s got to keep the kingdom of Elfhame from falling to pieces under its new rulers. Unfortunately for Jude, not only is a war brewing in the Undersea, but the court is full of traitors—and a few of them might be in her own home.

I loved The Cruel Prince, but I wasn’t one hundred percent sold on certain factors—yet, from the moment I finished reading it, I’ve been saying the same thing: “Everything I struggled with in book 1, I know will be better in book 2.” Was I right? Let me put it this way: you know the “second book slump” people always refer to in trilogies? NOT AN ISSUE HERE. Everything that The Cruel Prince does well, The Wicked King does PERFECTLY.

→ L I K E S :

I’ve wanted this and feared it, and now that it’s happening, I don’t know how I will ever want anything else.

First, without spoiling anything, let’s get this out of the way: the weird, hateful, hot-and-cold relationship between Jude and Cardan progresses flawlessly, and by that I mean I cheered, I raged, I cried, I swooned, I blushed, I raged some more… it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen enemies-to-lovers done quite like this, because at all times, they’re kind of… both? Let me tell you, the phrase “I hate you” has never been this sexy.

My body has acclimated, and now it craves what it should revile.

And Jude, my gods, JUDE. She is a masterpiece. I love her so much. She’s coldhearted, cruel, murderous, backstabbing, and a total antihero in all the best ways. She’s earned herself a permanent place on my favorite “terrifying leading ladies I love” list. She’s also so clever and strong; despite being betrayed at every possible turn, she manages to constantly work things to her favor—or, at the very least, to take someone else down with her as brilliantly as possible.

“The last room Cardan occupied caught fire. Let me rephrase. It caught fire because he lit it on fire.

Also, Holly Black’s writing is just legitimately so funny, I can’t even describe. It’s incredibly rare that a book makes me laugh out loud, but I cracked up over so many weird and ridiculous moments—usually pertaining to Cardan’s absolute lack of any common decency and/or sense.

Angry was better than being scared. Better than remembering she was a mortal among monsters.

Finally, of course, there’s the world. I adore Holly’s commitment to writing a version of Faerieland that follows legitimate fae lore, and just like in the first book, that authenticity comes through effortlessly. All the world-building and political complexity she offered in the first book paid off so well in this sequel.

→ D I S L I K E S :

That I like him better than I’ve ever liked anyone and that of all the things he’s ever done to me, making me like him so much is by far the worst.

Literally the only thing I didn’t like about The Wicked King is the fact that I have over a year to wait before finding out what the hell is going on with this terrible, infuriating, priceless cliffhanger ending. I mean, take the way Jude feels about Cardan, and that’s basically me towards Holly Black right now, except replace the “burning carnal desire” with “desperate need to find out how it all ends, right NOW”.


In all seriousness, The Wicked King was literal perfection in my eyes and I would not change a single thing. I flew through it, I loved every page, I highlighted so many quotes I can’t even fit a quarter of them in this review, and I don’t know if I have ever felt so simultaneously torn and obsessed with any pairing as I am over Jude and Cardan.

Oh, and one more thing: TARYN STILL AIN’T SHIT.


Everyone. Just… literally everyone.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to a very sweet (and unnamed) friend for loaning me their ARC!
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,483 reviews79k followers
December 10, 2019
CONGRATULATIONS-Goodreads Choice Awards YA Fantasy Winner!

Ok so here's the deal-I wasn't crazy about The Cruel Prince. There, I said it. The reason I'm starting this review with a seemingly negative attitude is two-fold: 1) It shows the sheer amount of growth that Black provides between the first two books in this series and 2) It shows that I'm not just blowing smoke up your ass and being pushed to give this a high rating to boost sales. The Wicked King was a true delight and privilege to read, my fellow bookworms, and I hope I can do it a shred of justice while discussing it here. This review is 100% spoiler free!

Our story begins five months after the events of The Cruel Prince take place, and we are immediately thrown into the narrative with dollops of those previous five months sprinkled in along the way. While I suppose it isn't ABSOLUTELY necessary, I would highly encourage you to pick up the novella The Lost Sisters as it gives an insightful look into Taryn's side of things during TCP (and also packs an extra emotional punch for a particular twist included at the end of this novel). There are a lot of moving parts to this middle installment, and some may seem fairly unrelated in the beginning, but by the end they all come together nicely for a whopper of an ending.

The aspect that stands out most to me regarding The Wicked King is the tremendous amount of character growth accomplished in just a short amount of time (and page count). Where TCP featured fairly typical/stereotypical characters for YA fantasy and only really connected me to the story near the ending when the twists started coming, TWK really fleshed out the deepest, darkest desires and fears of our cast and put them on display for their fellow peers. I don't want to say too much, but by the end of this novel I felt such a connection to many of the characters that I didn't really care about the previous go around.

AND THAT ENDING?! It's been quite some time since I've been so taken aback multiple times in the final 25% of a novel. It was waves of twists, turns, and heart breaking revelations. The ending is enough to make you dig out a tub of ice cream and wallow in your emotional breakdown for days. I have some thoughts on how I feel the next book could go, but after the ending here, Ms. Black has shown the reader that she owns these folks and she'll do with them as she pleases. Muahahahaha

I think I'll stop here and just let you experience it for yourself, but if you haven't pre-ordered this one yet, what are you waiting for? Despite having read this one already, I have still managed to pre-order the regular hardcover and the BN special edition.... because obviously, my shelves need this blessing in their life. <3
Profile Image for Antje ❦.
132 reviews274 followers
April 25, 2023
The plot twist at the end of this book is singlehandedly responsible for all my trust issues
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,309 reviews44.1k followers
February 27, 2022
Somebody bring me my dancing shoes! My favorite book of the trilogy winner of Goodreads Choice Awards!!!! Cardan and Jude, my favorite flawed, cunning, amazing characters! I think I should reread this trilogy sooner! Yayyyy!!!!

COME ON! My cheeks hurt so bad! This book slapped me so hard! I didn’t see that final twist coming and feel like they pulled out the rug from under me! I’m sitting on the floor and screaming, taking few sips of my Kendall-Jackson Grande Reserve to cool down (it doesn’t work, I’m still so pissed off!) then I’m screaming again , taking longer sip, oh no, the bottle is already empty and the book is finished with a WTH I just read kind of final! What’s gonna happen next, I need my fix urgently! I’m addictive to those malicious, smart couple!

I wanted to call this series GOF (Game of Faeries) because this sequel is sooo much better than the first one and it’s full of twists, surprises, conspiracy theories, betrayals, deceiving tricks.

We have real intelligent, ambitious, rough, bitchy, manipulating, cool, dangerous, merciless heroine ( All hail the Wicked Queen Hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better!) and malicious, also delicious, backstabber charming evil hero a.k.a. once upon a time a cruel prince and now he is wicked king Cardan! I hate him! I love him and I love to hate him and I hate to love him kind of complex feelings invaded my mind!

It is impossible not to fall for their chemistry. They’re match made in hell and their negative attributes perfectly fit with the progression of the story.

I’m not gonna talk about twists and turns, giving you spoilers and ruining your excitement. I can only suggest you to READ, READ AND READ THIS BOOK!

By the way: Here are my nominees for traditional 1st (see it only became well known contest, it doesn’t have to be organized for long years) Slapping reads contest:

Locke: I wanted to visualize him as Tom Hardy ( not for my obsession of this charming British uber talented actor, I love his movie “Locke” so my mind already categorized him as book character!) but after the first book and Wicked King, I think I can easily visualize him as Sacha Baron Cohen and I could freely hate and punch him under his belly.

Taryn: Nope, she broke my heart at the first book and I never forgive her, she deserves my mix of a few slaps and twenty punches package.

Nicasia: Oh yes, this notorious, nasty, inglorious, shameless, scum… Okay I already arranged a kickboxing match between Rico Verhoeven ( My famous Dutch kickboxer)and her! He will take care of my revenge plans.

As a summary: My malicious bastard husband hid my third book and I need to torture him to learn where he did put it but he threats me to blurt out the ending. Son of a greatest mother in law (she keeps stealing my wines and my CDs but she reminded me of my future self and I respect her!) gave me a spoiler that ending will be sooo surprising!

So my dearest GR friends, this trilogy is easy, riveting, entertaining, fast pacing page-turner! I enjoyed the second book so much! I loved the characters! I enjoyed my torture scenarios about villanelles and villains! I highly recommend this series!

As soon as I found the secret hiding place (I hope I don’t have to throw my husband from the window before learning the exact place!) I’m so much excited to read the final installment.
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