The Wicked King by Holly Black

July 6, 2021     erinthebooknut     Book review

The Wicked King by Holly BlackThe Wicked King by Holly Black
on January 8, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Action & Adventure / General, Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / General, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Bullying
Pages: 336

The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her brother safe. To do so, she 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 easy to control. 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 own 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.


Holy sloggy slog-fest, Batman! WICKED KING is a snore-acolypse

Yeah, I know. I’m surprised too. I really enjoyed THE CRUEL PRINCE  the first time I read it. Now, having gone back and reread it before WICKED KING I see a lot more flaws with it. I still enjoyed it but not nearly as much. That’s nothing in comparison to how I feel about WICKED KING though.


WICKED KING is a quiet plod through nothingness. There’s very little tension for a book that’s supposed to be on the knife’s edge between peace and all out war within faerie. We meander from plot point to plot point with no urgency. My god was I bored.

One thing I love about fae books is the way action plays out. Their supernatural abilities, their ultra vitality, everything about fae characters usually makes for more engaging situations and heightened intensity. Not here though. This book feels like its lounging, almost sleepy, as in goes about. It’s almost like its missing something, something even the first book in the series had. I honestly don’t know what happened here. WICKED KING is just…blah.

I can’t tell if the book was rushed or if Holly got bored writing it. The “twists” are so half hearted and I found much of it to be predictable or hollow.



One of the best parts of CRUEL PRINCE for me was Cardan. His attitude in the first book made him interesting. He was cruel, brash, and wholly inhuman. As a faerie should be. Now in book two Cardan is a stroppy, moody teenager only interested in parties and making a fuss. Where’s the calculated prince with an axe to grind? He been replaced by a petulant child. No matter what tidbits of information we get about him it can’t make up for the wimp he’s turned into

Jude, too, has been nerfed into an uninteresting mess. Gone is the sharp intelligence from the first book. The determination and fight in her seems to have completely gone, replaced by blundering and luck. Honestly, other than the very first chapter, a flashback to her being trained by her “father”, the Jude from CRUEL PRINCE no longer exists.

As for everyone else, wait….there were other characters? Yeah, this is honestly how I feel. Everyone, including Maddoc (who was a highlight in CRUEL PRINCE) is so bland that they’ve become utterly forgettable. There’s no threat to the villains, no attachment to the allies, and a general feeling of nothing from everyone else. Only a few characters feel fleshed out enough to be more than cardboard cut outs. Seriously, was this book rushed? Because that’s how it seemed. Did Holly’s publisher pressure her to get the book done before it was ready?

Final Thoughts


Other than the dark atmosphere that was also present in CRUEL PRINCE, WICKED KING feels like an entirely different series. I just….

So all in all I was totally disappointed by WICKED KING. All the interesting characters have lost their appeal and the plot has become a repetitive and dull mess. I doubt I’ll even spend the time to read book 3 and finish up the series. I just don’t feel the need anymore. Which is a shame because I was ravenous for this book when I originally finished book 1.

I’ve loved other Holly Black books and I hope this doesn’t become the norm for her. Hopefully she’ll have another hit ready for us soon. In the meantime I always have COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN to cheer me up. Perhaps I should try her TITHE series and see if I like that one better. What do you guys think?

Is there a book or series that disappointed you like this? I’ve had plenty. ALLEGIANT, anyone? Share yours in the comments!

From my shelf to yours,


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