The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black
★★☆☆☆ // 2 out of 5 stars
Previous review of The Cruel Prince: here
Despite how quickly I got through book 2 of Holly Black’s Folk of the Air series, I can’t say I was too impressed.
Book summary: In which Jude finds unemployment and Cardan makes power moves.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Cruel Prince, but I was intrigued enough to continue the series because despite how I felt about it as a whole, it was still pretty darn entertaining.
Unfortunately, The Wicked King failed to deliver on many fronts for me, but particularly in Jude’s characterization (and decision making skills) and the politics of Faerie. I just don’t think the writing style appeals to me, as Jude’s narration only summarizes the many actions she takes as Cardan’s seneschal.
Plot? I don’t know her and neither does TWK. For those interested in the nitty-gritty details of her role, you’ll likely be disappointed it’s all glossed over. Jude comes off as incompetent, and I was never convinced of her abilities even back in The Cruel Prince – it’s wholly a downward spiral for her here, and I’m not particularly mad about her fate. I’m more miffed that she’s so bad at her job, she still needs the Fae to do her homework for her. This is research *SHE* should have already been doing, to understand the politics of Faerie. But instead she wastes her time doing who knows what, which makes for a joyless experience being in her head.
At this point it’s quite obvious that the agenda of placing Oak on the High King’s throne is just scenery for the hate-sexual tension between Cardan and Jude. I’m not knocking TWK for that because at least Holly Black knows what her audience wants, and that’s precisely what many readers want. The problem therein lies that Cardan is severely non-present in a book supposedly titled after him. He has his moment to shine, but unfortunately there’s much about his character that’s still shrouded in mystery or what boils down to lack of actual development.
As for the other characters, Taryn got some depth added to her character, as much as the audience is meant to dislike her. Given the tidbits of her character motivations, I actually ended up relating to her more personally than Jude lmao. It’s no mystery that I’ve always been intrigued with Locke’s character
(fox boy stan callout posts about me are welcome in the comments); I’m told he gets some elaboration in the Lost Sisters novella, but in TWK, I’m still disappointed with how under-utilized he is in contrast with the potential he has based on this back story.
Madoc is still my fave character *shrugs*
Given how consistently disappointed I am with how both books in the series handle the politics of Faerie and Jude’s role in it all, I’m worried that the 3rd installment will be underwhelming and a minefield for squandered potential.