Wednesday, January 2, 2019

ARC Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Title: The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2)
Author: Holly Black

Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
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Review for book 1

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 younger 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.

This has been a really difficult review to write. I've procrastinated as long as I possibly could and I'm still not sure how to tackle this. I was a bit late jumping on The Cruel Prince bandwagon and I was utterly shocked at how much I liked it! I loved Jude, I loved Cardan, I loved the world. It quickly became one of my favorite books of 2018. Of course, we all know how that ended, so I was so excited that I got my hands on an ARC of The Wicked King and jumped into it immediately! Sadly, it just didn't strike the same chord.

The Wicked King picks up shortly after The Cruel Prince, jumping straight into Jude's life as the true ruler of Faerie. Of course, she's doing this through Cardan and they're the only ones who know. Individually I really enjoyed watching both Jude and Cardan grow into their roles. Jude remained as ruthless as ever. Although some of her softer side did peek through, she continued to do whatever it took to keep the throne safe. Cardan was even better. I loved, LOVED watching him becoming the King of Faerie, even if it was partially a sham.

As expected, the relationship between the two remained complicated and thoroughly unhealthy. Not that that's ever stopped me from sailing on a ship before. I was very excited to see the relationship between Jude and Cardan progress and I came away feeling like it was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it was utterly tortured (which I love), but it was also not quite enough for me. I really wanted more interaction between the two of them and instead they work around each other for most of the book.

To be honest, a lot of The Wicked King just wasn't enough. For the first two thirds of the story I was bored out of my mind. While I expected the politics and conspiracy, I wasn't expecting just how bored and uninterested I would end up feeling towards it. The pace in this book is insanely slow. While some interesting stuff does happen through the first couple hundred pages, a lot of it is quiet plotting and discussions. I'm usually a plot-driven girl, and the plot just wasn't enough to grab me until the last hundred or so pages. Maybe if there had been more Cardan and Jude interaction it could have swayed me to a higher rating, but alas.

One thing I did really enjoy about this book was that the world was expanded quite a bit. Having finally read The Darkest Part of the Forest this year, I was able to pick up on what I'd call easter eggs since it isn't technically a series. I loved getting to see more of the world outside of the court, especially the underwater world.

In the end I found The Wicked King to be quite a let down after the high of The Cruel Prince. I thought it was an okay book, but there were too many issues for it to be worth as many stars. While this wasn't amazing, I'm still really excited for book three! I can't wait to see how the series continues!