The Wicked King – Holly Black.

His mouth curled into a smile. His eyes shine with wicked intent. “Look at them all, your subjects. A shame not one knows who their true ruler is.”

– Holly Black.

I was unsure whether to have this book as my first review, due it being a sequel to another book (The Cruel Prince), however my love for the story and eagerness to get going with my blog overruled my hesitancy.

The Wicked King takes place from the perspective of Jude, a mortal living in a world rich with magic and deviance. While I read the first book in The Folk of the Air series quite some time ago I remember it being vibrant with blood, murder and unparalleled desire, things that the sequel did not fail to bring forth with an even stronger punch. The plot is intricate, and difficult to explain, particularly if you have not read the first book.

This book begins with Jude having fought her way ruthlessly to get some kind of power in the faerie kingdom, a place that never fails to torment her with her own mortality. She holds the reins of power over the new High King, Cardan, as his seneschal, after striking a deal that he must act in accordance to her for a year and a day. Throughout the book she is pulled through the too-familiar current of enemies and allies, fighting battles of betrayal, politics and crowns. With each day pulling her closer to the end of her deal with Cardan, fear seems to hover above Jude’s skin, ready to pounce. She begins to feel her threads to the throne snap, and with her thorny relationship with the king, she is left with the only power that she can rely on: herself.

Holly Black has done it again. Her writing simply grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. It’s dark and disturbing, but has the sickening ability to enchant you with its delicate and forceful ways. The universe she has created is large and complex, with a suspenseful plot that ties it into a big ball of torture, death and violence that just warms my heart to think about. It is a Young Adult novel, so while pain and brutality are huge parts of the story, the gore doesn’t go beyond a few slit throats, wounds from sparring, and just a hint of cannibalism.

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

-Holly Black

Twists and turns doesn’t even begin to describe the events that occur in this story. Black expertly shows power and the sacrifices and consequences that it entails, as well as the ugly things people are prepared to do for it. Even so, the book is also about love, and the selfless, heartwarming things we would sacrifice for it. The romance within these books (particularly this one) is the perfect definition of hate to love, and is complex in its ways. I really loved seeing Jude, who is normally so sure of herself , lose sight of what she needed to do because of the haze of love. While it led to some tricky storylines, and a thoroughly heart-wrenching aggravating painful traumatic torturous bitter ending, I think all in all it made for a diverse and beautiful plot. Paired with unique and incredibly fleshed-out characters, Black established a beyond pleasurable read. I would recommend it to all that enjoy the genre of YA fantasy, and even others that don’t generally meddle with the genre. It’s an exhilarating blend of murder, betrayal and overwhelming craving for power, told with such clarity that the writing appears to be the magic itself.

I can’t wait for the next one (Queen of Nothing) to be released in just a few weeks, and in the mean time I hope to get the novella as well!

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