Book Review – The Wicked King

Written By: Holly Black

Final Overall Rating: 6/10

Rating: 6 out of 10.

First of all, this review is purely derived from my own personal opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comments; I am always up for a good discussion or to answer questions. 

(Spoilers Below – Read at your own peril!)

Recommend Yes or No:

            If you read the first book and enjoyed it, then yes, and if you did not enjoy the first novel then you probably have your answer. Though this book is not nearly as good as Cruel Prince, it was still a fun read. 

Writing Style: 8/10 

            The second book to the Cruel Prince trilogy, The Wicked King, follows suit in that it is written in first person and present tense. Black’s writing follows a similar style to the first book in that the story is told through a very active lens which engages and satisfies readers… It is easy to imagine yourself as the protagonist. I love Black’s use of italics – which seem to draw on Jude’s inner thoughts and feelings. It better conveys to the reader how Jude is internally reacting to the various themes and scenes portrayed in the novel. 

Story: 5/10

             For me, this story fell prey to the middle book syndrome. It was not as well constructed as the first book and was not as spoiled as the third novel. It was just sort of okay. I still enjoyed reading it, but you could definitely tell that it was a set up for the third and final instalment of this series. Due to Black using this novel to set the scene for Queen of Nothing, it just did not feel as engaging or as fun. The plot was lacking and there were not a lot of plot twists (which I expected due to Cruel Prince). It was predictable. There was less offence and more defense in how the characters reacted to the plot. I missed the offensive approach of Black’s first novel. One story element I especially did not enjoy was the relationship between Jude and Cardan. It felt a little more forced and toxic (to be fair, I am not the biggest fan of Cardan in the first place). I personally believe we need to move away from encouraging girls and boys to idolize toxic people – particularly in the romance department. However, most of the characters in this novel are toxic… especially Jude. 

Character Development: 5/10

             Oy vey. The character development should have been better. Yes, Jude kind of learns how to leverage her power and run the entirety of the Fae Kingdom, and Cardan learns how to not be such an ass (sort of). But that just wasn’t good enough for me. I still felt like the characters were making and creating the plot problems through their refusal to grow. Character growth is a vital factor for novels, and I was irritated that Black did not mature her characters. 

            Also, I hated the back and forth “I love you” or “I hate you” relationship that Cardan and Jude have. Just pick one! I don’t really care if you like, love or hate each other, but the mental and physical dialogue in the book regarding their unhealthy relationship with one another drove me bonkers. 

Fun Facts about Black:

  1. Black has a secret library (Holly Black).
  2. “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” (Holly Black).
  3. She helped to create the Spiderwick Chronicles (Holly Black).
  4. Black is from New Jersey but now lives in New England (Holly Black).
  5. Black published her first book, Tithe, in 2002(Holly Black).

Favorite Quote from The Wicked King:

In all honesty, no quote from this book really stood out to me. 

Final Takeaways: 

             If you are not willing to trust your allies, then how can you expect to succeed against your enemies? Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith. 

Works Cited: 

Black, Holly. The Wicked King. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2019. Print. 

Holly Black. “About.” https://blackholly.com/about/.

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