Book Review: “The Wicked King” by Holly Black

Warning: This book contains spoilers for “The Wicked King” by Holly Black! If you haven’t read this book and want to avoid spoilers, don’t look here!

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Wicked King” by Holly Black! I previously read the prequel, “The Cruel Prince,” and I was interested enough in the concepts presented in it to read the sequel. Here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:

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Cover of “The Wicked King”  by Holly Black.

“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.”

Character Development: 1 out of 5 stars

Plot Development: 1 out of 5 stars

Barely anything happened in this book that was important to the overall plot, save for the last few chapters. One could literally reduce this book to the first few and last few chapters, cut out the whole middle, and you would get the essence of everything that happened in this book.

As for characters, I felt like Jude, Cardan, and all the other characters didn’t do much other than attempt to manipulate things behind the scenes, but none of it really felt like it was building towards anything interesting or important until the last few chapters of the book. Sure, there’s the unexpected happening of Jude becoming Queen of Faerie and then her sudden exile, but not much else. None of the characters felt developed or in the process of developing. Because there were so many characters that the overall story went through so quickly, whether it be through killing them or having them appear only for a few chapters and then disappear again, I didn’t connect to any of them as a reader. In fact, I think they were even less developed than they were from the previous book.

Worldbuilding Development: 1 out of 5 stars

The Undersea felt really underdeveloped in this book, and it feels like the Undersea and their associated characters were only in there to create the tension of whether they would go to war with the Faeries or not. Sure, we have nice aesthetic descriptions of where they live, to an extent, as well as how these beings appear visually, but there isn’t much description on how their royal court might work, or how their society functions as a whole.

Overall, I’m rating this book 1 out of 5 stars!

Unfortunately, this book does not live up to the potential that the first book contained in any of its character, plot or worldbuilding development. Had there been more development in all of these areas, especially the plot, I think this sequel would be more interesting to read overall.


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