The Wicked King by Holly Black
You just wouldn’t want to live in Faerie, would you?
That’s my problem with this series. I have this conflict within me where I like reading about non-perfect, sinister environments where not everything is as it seems. But at the same time, it frustrates me that Jude doesn’t just leave. It’s not a habitable place for humans, and she has the freedom to walk away whenever she feels like it.
So just go.
I get it; it’s magical. It draws you in and, despite not being able to be put into a trance by other faerie folk, Jude is still seduced by Faerie. The real world probably looks pretty mundane.
But power struggles, paranoia, enemies sworn to kill you, a horrific home life, and casual strangers trying to trick you into awfulness. That doesn’t sound fun either?
This glaring problem I have with the world of The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King is often hard to put to one side. I try, but every time Jude is subject to ridicule, to near to death, to the ridiculousness of life in Faerie, I plead with her to just leave. She’s not being held there against her will, she’s not trapped, she is also clearly tired of the bullshit she goes through and explains why she hates it there and has to put up with it.
I’ll take a deep breath now.
If both books didn’t have this plot point where she could leave, I wouldn’t be fixated on the world of Faerie so much. If this was her life with no way out, then I would understand why she is fighting tooth and nail to be taken seriously and come out supreme. But when the human world is out there, why would you?
It’s not an exciting place, it’s not fun, it’s not magical (although it is literally magical). Who would want to be there?
And why do people picture Cardan as this hot bad boy? Having black hair and wearing gothic-style clothes doesn’t make you a bad boy. Like Faerie, he’s also not enticing to me. He comes across as a spoilt little boy with a crown too big for his head. And so while I kind of like him as a character, he and Jude have no chemistry at all. Their conversations are:
Cardan: *is mean*
Jude: I hate him!! …but there’s something about him that I’m attracted to…
Where? Where is the attraction? I can get behind a ‘bad boy’ romance, despite having issues with the way it’s portrayed. But it’s even harder to make me like a romance that isn’t even there. Sometimes, there’s no chemistry, and it’s fine to just let it be; you don’t have to pretend it’s there.
Did I love The Wicked King? Maybe not as much as others. I love Holly Black’s writing, and her lesser known series The Curse Workers was such a brilliant entry into YA. I also loved The Darkest Part of The Forest, whose characters are actually mentioned in The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. Does it make me want to give TWK five stars though? Not particularly.