It’s been five months since Jude Duarte successfully secured the royal crown of Elfhame onto Prince Cardan’s head, which in turn bounded his loyalty to her for a year and a day. However, holding on to her new power and role as seneschal to the High King is proving to be difficult when Jude learns that someone close to her means to betray her and threaten the lives of everyone she loves. With the political climate of Elfhame growing increasingly dangerous, how will Jude uncover the identity of the traitor, protect those she most dearly cares for and maintain control over The Wicked King?
The Wicked King is a sequel to The Cruel Prince, and once again Holly Black has left me utterly speechless. One of the many things Black does exceptionally well in this book is the number of plot twists and surprises she uses to keep her readers on the edge of their seats. In certain scenes, she would take her readers on a journey towards a particular vision as to how the story would develop, yet swerve in the complete opposite direction.
Also, I especially appreciated the transformation of Jude Duarte. Although Jude was very outspoken in the last book, she was often hesitant and lacked confidence in herself. However, in this book, she is a beast! Jude is cautious, calculated, and beyond confident. Here’s a little excerpt of her mind:
“My pride urges me to fight, but he’s bigger than me and in a space familiar to him. This would be no mere sparring contest. Still, the urge to best him, the urge to wipe the expression from his smug face, is overwhelming. Almost overwhelming. Pride is for knights, I remind myself, not for spies.” P. 24
Finally, Black provides the most exciting and spellbinding romance that leaves her readers breathless. Cardan and Jude are crazy for each other, but neither one of them wants to give in to their feelings of fear of being too vulnerable. They have this push and pull relationship that no doubts frustrated readers but also entice them as well. Here’s a little teaser below:
“Kiss me again,” He says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.” P. 57
Their confusion on whether or not to hate or trust one another is a complete guilty pleasure!
In all, this book was absolutely terrific! The abundance of cunning and backstabbing was only limited to the imagination of its writer, and I reveled in the twists and turns until the excruciating last one. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good ol’ dark, twisty, scheming fantasy novel.