Samantha Beard's Reviews > The Wicked King

The Wicked King by Holly Black
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Read 2 times. Last read August 29, 2018 to August 30, 2018.

2.5 Stars. I picked up an arc of The Wicked King at San Diego Comic-con. The romantic relationship portrayed in this series is not desirable. Romanticising, or seeking a relationship like the one in these books is not something anyone should do. It's emotionally unhealthy, and seeing people swoon over Cardan confuses me. If you enjoy reading it, you do you. If you seek it out or encourage it in real life, please realize that you could be hurting someone, maybe yourself.

PSA aside!

There were some good quotes early on that gave me high hopes. It seemed like Holly Black might be taking a slightly different approach to the toxicity of Jude and Cardan's relationship.

"If you're the sickness, I suppose you can't also be the cure."


I was intrigued by this because I thought we may get a book with little to no romance as a result. There were also some hints of mental health/distress for Jude that were really interesting to me, and I was looking forward to how those would play out. Those elements were not really expanded on though, so I was let down by that.

I saw a lot of readers say they enjoyed the last 1/3 of the book the most. I was the opposite. I enjoyed the first half, and then something happens that caused me to almost stop reading. It solidified the fact that the book was going to continue in a pretty negative direction. I don't enjoy reading about this really emotionally unhealthy relationship. I found it hard to continue to root for or relate to Jude as the book went on.

If there is a book out there that could be labeled as emotional grim-dark, I think this is it. A lot of the healthier relationships Jude did have are impacted negatively because of her actions in The Cruel Prince. There are multiple relationships that take a step toward emotional abuse, almost every one in the book, and that made it hard for me to find characters/storylines to glom on to.

I think there are important discussions to be had about relationships like this, the importance of finding your way out of it, and realizing that it's bad. Framing that in the scope of a fantasy novel can help people who are struggling with emotional and physical abuse in real life. A lot of people (myself included) read fantasy as a way of learning to perceive the real world. The Wicked King doesn't offer much in the way of hope or any kind of positive momentum. It's potentially triggering for anyone who had been in an emotionally abusive relationship. The physicality is completely consensual, I have no qualms there, but the emotional dysfunction is hard to read. Not saying every fantasy novel must offer tools for real life, but this one I feel does not.

As a pure fantasy novel, which I have to remind myself this is not as the real world does cross into the story, I did enjoy the politics and the scheming early on. Those were the elements I found interesting and the reason I am giving this book 2.5 stars instead of something lower. Seeing Jude taking over and coming into her own more in Faerie was really great, but her character development stagnated quickly.

I don't mean to imply that anyone shouldn't read this book or this series. I can see why people love it, particularly fans of the ACOTAR series. As with any book, it's important to be mindful and thoughtful while reading about topics like emotional abuse.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading (ebook Edition)
2018 – Finished Reading (ebook Edition)
May 11, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
May 11, 2018 – Shelved
August 29, 2018 – Started Reading
August 29, 2018 –
page 30
9.32% "I think i'll like this much more than book 1! I'm hoping for more time spent in the fae court and less in the fae school."
August 30, 2018 –
page 274
85.09% "Speed reading my way to the end. Unfortunately, this took a turn for the worse for me that I can't say was unexpected. Just isn't the kind of relationship I want to read about. I can see how it's interesting, but it is toxic and I would rather read about a healthier romance."
August 30, 2018 – Finished Reading
September 6, 2018 – Shelved (ebook Edition)

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Ashani (new) - added it

Ashani hey if you didn’t like it, maybe you could send it my way ? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


Samantha Beard Ashani wrote: "hey if you didn’t like it, maybe you could send it my way ? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯."

It very quickly gained a new home, no worries there. xD


Kaelyn Jarrett I totally agree. I was so upset reading certain parts of this book because of the negative emotional relationships. People are romanticizing an abusive and toxic relationship?!?! Jude and Cardan do not work. And I was upset that the emotional trauma was never expanded upon for Jude


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