Review | The Wicked King by Holly Black

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The Wicked King (The Folk of Air #2) by Holly Black

Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy

Page Count: 322 pages

Summary

“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.” (via Goodreads) 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

(Click here my review of The Cruel Prince)

Review 

“Legends need not concern themselves with something as small as happiness.” 

Note: This review contains minor spoilers for The Cruel Prince. Read at your own peril.

How do I review this book without screaming and flailing around? I mean, I stalked out of my room in frustration and threw my hands up in the air, died with laughter, slammed my book shut in surprise, and gaped at the pages with every turn of event.

First let me start off by saying, if you do not like court intrigue, politics, scheming, backstabbing, betrayal, murder, death, or duals this book may not be for you. I almost feel bad for liking this story so much because I remember many people who felt disconcerted after reading The Cruel Prince last year. This book is not a feel-good story. The Slytherin in me prefers things that way. The Wicked King takes every cunning thing about it’s predecessor and amplifies it.

Characters

Jude Duarte – If you read The Cruel Prince you know she tricks Cardan for her own end. At the beginning of the first book, her goal was simply to become a knight but then her ambitions changed and her end game became more deadly.

Cardan Greenbriar – The reluctant High King of Elfhame. He watched half his family get slaughtered and now must lead a land that did not treat him well.

The Court of Shadows, General Madoc, Taryn, Oak, and Vivienne are still key players. So are Locke and Balekin. Nicasia and her mother, The Queen of the Undersea play a role as well.

Plot

“A king is a living symbol, a beating heart, a star upon which Elfhame’s future is written. Surely you have noticed that since his reign began, the isles are different.”

All that glitters is not gold in the follow up to The Cruel Prince. For a large part of of the story, we watch Jude try to maintain whatever control she can over Elfhame. Politics are shifting, alliances are forged, promises are sworn, bargains are made, and…betrayal happens from within. Because of the new Prince’s rise to power, Elfhame isn’t stable and certain characters are taking advantage of that fact. Whereas in Book 1 Jude wants power, in Book 2 she struggles to hold onto it. A huge theme in the sequel is about who really has power. Does Jude since she’s still a mortal? Does Cardan since he never wanted to be King? Even though she is now Cardan’s seneschal, she’s still not being taken seriously.

“I want to tell you so many lies.”

The first part of the book largely focuses on Jude doing Cardan’s dirty work. She is also trying to circumvent any messages from Balekin, who is imprisoned in the Tower of Forgetting after slaying his own siblings. Jude fears that any messages from him would influence Cardan negatively. She sneaks around and pretty much lies to Cardan a lot. Yep, that’s what happens for pretty much the first two-thirds of the story.  If you didn’t care too much for The Cruel Prince or didn’t read it all, you’re probably wondering, “Why do you love this book so much if the bulk of it is just scheming? That sounds SO boring.” I really couldn’t tell you why. I just like that kind of book, okay???

“In all that pale fabric, she looks like a sacrifice instead of a bride.”

Also, I have to say, I did not ship Jude and Cardan in the first book. It just didn’t make sense to me. Just like how Alina and the Darkling as a ship never made since to me either. However, after reading The Wicked King I can say with my whole heart that I’m ON that ship. The romance in this is so ugh (in a good way). All that hateful passion and resisting their true feelings stuff? I’m weak. There is a steamy scene I’m not sure I can appropriately remark on it since I’m not the target audience but….ahem…Chapter 15.

Reasons why I love Jude Duarte: One. She’s a self-made character. Two. She evolves into something of an anti-hero but also the one trying to save everyone’s asses from their own stupidity. She’s uses her weakness to her advantage, which is that she’s mortal and possesses no magic. I really love stories with self-made characters who start from pretty much nothing and have to build themselves into something stone by stone. What I feel like Holly Black excelled at was subverting the tropes. There is no Chosen One. There is no prophecy. There is no one friend who always has her back (unless you count Vivi).

“Your ridiculous family might be surprised to find that not everything is solved by murder.”

The author, Holly Black, made a tour stop in my town so I was able to see her speak! She talked about how she usually sees male characters evolve into the anti-hero and she wanted to explore that with a female character. She also talks about exploring how Jude actually becomes whom she despises, which is her surrogate father, Madoc. The deeper in she gets, the more she isolates herself. Watching Jude’s character arc is so fascinating. It’s almost a psychological development.

“Fear is terrible, but the combination of hope and fear is worse.” 

*Spoilers* Highlight this paragraph if you want to read it: Toward the end of the book, Jude is captured and taken to Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea. She’s literally taken under water and somehow isn’t drowning or dying. It’s pretty weird. But luckily, I watched Aquaman in theaters last month and was well-prepared for that visual. Below the earth, MORE SCHEMING takes place. When Balekin is made ambassador to the Queen, he tries to get Jude’s secrets and…it ain’t pretty. Poor Jude. Luckily—well, I’m not going to spoil for you the heart stopping events that follow after. I’M SHOOK, YA’LL. SHOOK. 

I am fully aware that this book made be considered over- hyped or even -gasps- boring to some. I actually don’t read that much fantasy. While I read a healthy amount, it’s not enough for me to feel like this was cliche. This is your anti-fairytale. The fairytale that doesn’t end up in a happily ever after. With girls who are brash and impulsive and brave.

The Wicked King is a jaw-dropping, enthralling, and delightfully wicked sequel.

You are not ready. 

Content Warning: murder, death, bullying, some torture

For more spoiler-filled thoughts check out my Goodreads!

 

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Weekly Wrap Up // Jan. 1st – 10th

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I decided to take a break from Twitter for a week after the New Year because my self-esteem was suffering. I started comparing myself to people on there, especially since I had no idea I followed so many Booktubers. The Booktube community is becoming tighter knit and everyone whose a Booktuber seems to be friends with each other. Because I only do book blogging, I feel left out or like I’m not bringing anything valuable or worth while to the book community.

The only reason why I haven’t deleted my account is because while there are some negative aspects of Book Twitter, it also has a lot of positive aspects as well. I took a break to recharge and poor into myself rather than wallow in the FOMO. That being said, I felt SO much better from taking a Twitter break to focus on myself. Based on a very non-scientific method known as guessing, I think my productivity increased by 200%.

 What I Did This Past Week

Personal & Wellness 

  • I exercised twice.
  • I ate REALLY healthy…well…there were plenty of treat days for sure.
  • I went to bed sooner and woke up earlier (well, on and off…the waking up early is happening, but going to bed early not so much).
  • I spent more quality time with my significant other.

Creative & Bookish 

  • I wrote 2,673 words on my novel.
  • I reread The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.
  • I organized my Pinterest board and deleted hundreds of pins.
  • I finally backed up my blog a.k.a downloaded an export to my computer.
  • I met Holly Black and got my books signed by her!

 

That being said, from Jan 7th – Jan 9th, my anxiety was triggered and my stress levels went up. I stopped writing consistently, so as of today I’m now 2,079 words behind my writing goal. I also lost my appetite, didn’t want to work out, and have had a hard time focusing on reading. I struggle with depression and while some days are much better than others, depression is just the default I live with and I feel it trying to wrap itself around me. The reason for my slump is random. A staff member at my apartment complex accused me of doing something I didn’t do and when I confronted them they made it seem like I shouldn’t take it personally and didn’t offer so much as an apology. I’m hoping the weekend after next when I go on a short trip, putting some distance between the evil apartment overlord will make me feel better.

On a positive note, I decided to join the Off The Grid Readathon at the last second! It’s a Readathon that lasts from January 11th-13th where I avoid my phone and technology for 72 hours. That’s it! I’m hoping this reading challenge will help push me out of my slump. Here are the other 2019 Dates if you’re interested.

Until next time!

My 2019 Most Anticipated Reads

I wasn’t planning on doing this post because after awhile everyone’s most anticipated starts to blend together and I didn’t want my post to feel repetitive. Here I am anyway shoving books in your faces that you’ve probably seen being hyped for months now. I will be sure to highlight the debuts or indie authors.

I have 52 books on my 2019 Release Radar (including series I haven’t started/finished) but I narrowed my list down to my Top 12 Most Anticipated 2019 Releases.

2019

1. Water Runs Red by Jenna Clare – This is a self-published debut poetry collection by one of my favorite Booktubers. I’m looking forward to this but Jenna doesn’t just talk about books. She’s passionate about photography, travel, and writing. I’m super excited to see how her creativity bleeds into her words.

Releases: March 5, 2019.

2. Robber Girl by S.T. Gibson – Robber Girl is a sapphic Snow Queen re-telling that is self-published and available in paperback or e-book. I don’t normally read self-published books but her writing just takes the cake. The author’s stories are SO good.

Releases: February 14, 2019

3. The Wicked King by Holly Black – Yes, yes. This is one of the MOST hyped books of 2019. I know. I am looking forward to it. I need to know what happens next. Not to mention, the author herself is making an appearance half an hour away from me and I’ll get my book signed!

Releases: January 8, 2019.

4. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give was phenomenal to say the least and I cried my eyes out watching the movie adaption earlier this year. I expect the author’s spin-off novel to be nothing short of remarkable.

Releases: February 5, 2019

5. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – I was granted an excerpt on Netgalley. Normally I don’t like getting excerpts, but this one is SUPER lengthy and hyping me up for the book. I preordered a special signed edition, so I won’t have my copy until early March. I enjoyed her debut The Bone Season, but I’m so thrilled to read her first standalone (even though I have no idea what it’s all about and prefer it that way).

Releases: February 26, 2019

6. The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton – I was randomly selected for an e-ARC on Netgalley for this book!!! WHAT?!! I found out New Year’s Eve morning. It was the perfect way to end my year. I thought this was going to be a trilogy, but it’s only a duology, which makes me want finish it sooner. There is something about trilogies that makes me out them off…

Releases: March 5, 2019


7. Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds – This is a debut novel by a Black author and I was just sold by the synopsis immediately. It looks funny, heartwarming, and unexpected. I’m limiting how much Contemporary YA I read this year, but I’m fully expecting this one to surprise me.

Releases: March 12, 2018

8. Internment by Samira Ahmed – When I first heard about this book, I added it to my Goodreads immediately. This may be the most important YA book of the decade right next to The Hate U Give. It can be best described as a book that, “follows 17-year-old Layla Amin as she is forced into an internment camp for Muslim Americans along with her parents.”

Releases: March 19, 2018

9. Nyxia Uprising (Nyxia #3) by Scott Reintgen – This has been my favorite YA sci-fi series to date. It’s diverse, it’s high octane, it’s fun. It also tackles social issues including but not limited to low-socioeconomic circumstance, capitalism, and the treatment of an indigenous population. I can’t believe this is ending!! I’ve grown SO attached to these characters.

Here is my review for Nyxia Unleashed (Nyxia #2)

Releases: April 16, 2019

10. The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab – This is a series of comics bound into a paperback graphic novel set before the events of Darker Shade of Magic. I only read #1 out of 3. I didn’t want to track down the rest of the comics at comic bookstores, so I decided to wait for the final release. I’m pretty much always going to be hyped for a V.E. Schwab release. Let it be known.

Releases: April 30, 2019

11. Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Confession: I have not read the Illuminae series!!! I did read LIFEL1K3 by Kristoff and… I did not like it. However, the premise sounds so BADASS. A few people are already calling it a Six of Crows rip-off, but here’s the thing. I love sci-fi, ensemble casts, and chaos so IDGAF. (Plus, I gave SoC 3.75 stars).

Releases: May 7, 2019

12. Blood Heir by Amélie Zhao – Last but not least. I followed the author on her blog a long time ago where she announced she landed a book deal. To be honest, I barely even knew what her book was going to be about but I was super excited anyway. According to her author website, this book is about, “A fugitive princess with a deadly gift. A con man with no past. An empire spiraling into chaos. A world worth saving.” *screams and flails* The author has been on my radar for about a year, I believe, so I’ve just been immensely excited to read her work.

Releases: June 4, 2019

Thanks for reading this rambling post about books I’m looking forward to most this year!  Sorry for the out of order releases. I took a screenshot on my Goodreads account and the first two books aren’t in order because they dates haven’t been set for them. I’m super excited for my 2019 reads.

Until next time, 

Ness  

2019 Bookish Resolutions

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I can’t believe it’s 2019 already. I don’t know where I’d be without the book community. I genuinely think I would be miserable. I don’t have much of a life but I get to share my reading experience with all of you! The more I read the more I know what I want in terms of my overall reading experience and, well, I wrote a lot of goals for 2019.  This post is SUPER long and mostly for me, so I don’t blame you if you just skim it. 😂

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Here were my 2018 Bookish Resolutions:

  • Read 45 books. (Read: 52) ✔️
  • Rate less, review more. I didn’t think of an alternative rating system in time.
  • Read less debuts. (Read: Only 5) ✔️
  • Read whatever the heck I want without feeling guilted. ✔️
  • Find good literary fiction. ✔️
  • Less monthly TBR lists. ✔️
  • Only purchase books over 350 pages. ✔️
  • Avoid books with multiple POV. YA Books that are really short with dual-POV don’t work for me. ✔️
  • Listen to one book on Audible. (Read: 5) ✔️
  • Read one book off my classics shelf. ✔️
  • Read children’s books I missed out in my childhood.✔️
  • Re-read a favorite book or two from adolescence. ✔️
  • Read One Thriller, Horror, or Mystery. ✔️
  • Don’t buy a single hyped book from Booktube. I should have included “…and on Twitter”. The hype is too real on there, too. ❌
  • Start reviewing books once a month on Youtube. Welp, I tried.

Total: 12 out of 15 completed.


2019 Bookish Resolutions

1.) READ MORE DIVERSE BOOKS. Diverse for me is when the author writes a story that features a marginalized identity as the main character or includes emphasis on a supporting characters that are marginalized a.k.a they are not just background characters in passing. If the book has POC but the main storyline revolves around non-POC, heteronormative, or neurotypical characters it is not diverse (in my personal opinion). My goal is to make over half of my reads more centered on diverse voices.

2.) READ MORE BOOKS BY FEMALE SFF WRITERS. Last summer I wrote a blog post about top female SFF writers on my radar. It’s really important to me that I support female writers in a genre in a market largely saturated by white dudes, lol

3.) BUY LESS DEBUTS. Last year my goal was to read less debuts. I should have worded that differently. I think I should buy less debuts. Sometimes I have high expectations and if I’m let down then I feel like I wasted money. If hear hype for a debut, I’ll check it out from the library instead or wait until it’s in paperback.

4.) USE GOODREADS LESS. There’s something about that sentence, “You are five books behind schedule”, that gives me anxiety. I also want to use Goodreads less because there is SO MUCH DRAMA. People rating books 1 star without reading a book or authors interfering with reader reviews. It’s just messy. Plus, my interaction with other readers is pretty low.


5.) READ OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE. As far as genres go, that means trying historical fiction, romance, horror, mystery, and memoirs. Memoirs aren’t completely out of my comfort zone but I want to read more of them again. I also want to read in a variety of formats. So that means more audiobooks, novellas, comic books, graphic novels, as well as poetry.

6.) READ BY SEASON. In 2018, I learned I put way less pressure on myself if I combine my tentative TBR into 2-3 months. I’m not a slow reader, nor am I fast reader. Some books are simply too complex or actual tomes of pages for me to binge them.

7.) READ A CLASSIC.

My classic(s) of choice this year is:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
  • Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

8.) RE-READ ONE BOOK FROM ADOLESCENCE.

My reread(s) of choice is:

  • Sabriel by Garth Nix
  • Speak by Laurie H. Anderson

9.) READ AT LEAST 3-5 KINDLE BOOKS I ALREADY OWN. Sometimes I forget about my Kindle books because they aren’t displayed on my shelf for me to see them. Sometimes I don’t read as much on my Kindle because if the book isn’t interesting me, it’s harder to skim through or skip ahead for some reason.


10.) PARTICIPATE IN 3 READATHONS. When I was behind on my reading challenge, joining readathons helped me get ahead again! Mind you, I never actually win these challenges and I usually aim for shorter books (under 350 pages).  Anyway, I’m looking forward to doing readathons again because it helped me knock out books that have been on my backlist for eternity.

11.) SKIP THE BOOK TAGS/TOPS TENS ON MY BLOG. Only because I only have so much free space that WordPress gives me when I upload that many images. I not only want to simplify my blogging, but it make it more personal (lifestyle, travel, creative living, writing updates).

12.) FILM 12 BOOKTUBE VIDEOS. This was one of two goals I didn’t meet this past year. I tried SO many times to record a video. I know a few basics, but I’ve been having upload issues. I think I figured it out so…Booktube, here I come?

13.) START A SCI-FI READING GROUP. I don’t know how I will do this because I’m not on Facebook and Goodreads is saturated with groups already. I’m thinking of starting one on Twitter. A club wholly dedicated to discussing sci-fi. My hope is that there will be a WEBSITE, readathons, a book of the month choice, chats, and even Booktube discussions.

BONUS: GET A LIBRARY CARD. I haven’t owned a library card in like ten years. Time to fix that. —> I achieved this goal early and got one this past December. Yay! ✔