I’ve said it one but I’ll say it again. Holly Black is at her best when she writes about fairies. She is just well versed in fairy mythology that makes this world feel so steeped in tradition but also new and original. Add all he Royal Court intrigue and you have one great story. The Wicked King is the second book of her Folk of the Air trilogy and after the first book there was a lot of stack. Jude outmaneuvered her father to get the throne away from him and save her brother from having to grow up to soon. She tricked Carden into the throne while controlling him and thus the real power in the kingdom. A lot of the story revolves around those who have power and those who do not. Jude a human living in Fairy often times felt powerless. Even though she learned how to fight from Madoc she would always be at a disadvantage but the thing she has over fairies is that she can lie. Lying and her cleverness is what got her this far but controlling Carden is harder than she anticipated. He doesn’t like being commanded by her anymore than he does being the High King. Things get even more complicated when the Queen of the Undersea is taking this moment to push her advantage and someone close to Jude has or will betray her. Fairies may not be able to lie but that doesn’t mean they can’t deceive. Jude’s strength is her ability to strategies. To see Jude constantly adjusting and planning is truly fascinating. She is constantly looking at all the angles but even the best make mistakes. As much as she plans, she can’t always see the whole chess board. In the end, after all her planning and scheming she is not only maneuvered by Madoc but Carden as well. I’ll admit, I did not see the ending coming. I guess I should have guessed something was up since the title of the next book is The Queen of Nothing but it was still stunning. It’s agonizing that I have to wait until next year to find out what’s going to happen but I know one thing. Jude has not been defeated yet. She’ll be back and all fairies better beware.
Okay, I’m ready to find out what Jude has planned now that Carden is on the throne. Let’s do this!
I feel like singing “Hello Dolly” except it is “Hello Holly” because she is back to where she belongs. No one writes about Fairies the way that Holly does. From the Spiderwick Chronicles to Modern Faerie Tales to Darkest Part of the Forest, her stories are a mixture of faerie lore with modern twists and not one is the same. The Cruel Prince is a new spin on the changeling story. Instead of a fairy leaving one of their off spring with humans to replace their own babies, we have twins Jude and Taryn who are stolen from their home after Madoc kills their parents. You see, Madoc is the general to the High King in Faerie and has an odd sense of honor. He married their mother and well she escaped, taking their baby, Vivi, with her to the Human world. Ten years later he finds her married to another and in a fit of rage kills both of them and then out of duty he takes all the kids back to Faerie and raises them as his own. Jude and Taryn were seven when they come to live and Faerie and have come to think about it as home despite living with their parents murderer. There are only two ways humans can join the court. They can either marry their way in or earn their way by becoming a knight. Taryn wants to the former and Jude the latter. In Jude’s quest to become a Knight she battles against the cruel and spoiled Prince Cardan and his viscous friends. Like any kid who has ever been bullied, you come to a point where you can no longer just sit by and let things happen and start fighting back. Jude is given the opportunity to prove herself to Cardan’s brother, Dain, who is expected to be named King by becoming one of his spies but this is Faerie and things don’t go the way you expect. The coronation didn’t go as planned, people revealed themselves to be not to who she thought them to be. Despite all the betrayals and double crosses, Jude takes the opportunity to make her own power play. I love Jude. She is smart and brave. Being a human growing up in Faerie is fraught with challenges but she has found ways to turn those disadvantages to her advantage and outsmarts them all. That being said, the real conflict as the series is going to be if she able to deliver on all the the promises she’s made. Will her allies continue to support her? And will Cardan and her ever hook up? Fans of Black’s Modern Faerie Tales trilogy will love the surprise cameos from Roiben and Kaye. This is a great start to another classic Holly black faerie tale.