“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”
Did anyone doubt I was gonna use that quote? No one did. I read The Cruel Prince last year and really loved it. It was on my end of the year favorites, despite my 4-star rating and somewhat complicated relationship with it (more on that HERE). So I was naturally beyond excited for the sequel and to see how The Wicked King compared to my experience with The Cruel Prince. So let’s chat.
There will be no spoilers for The Wicked King, but since this is the second book in the series, there might be some spoilers for The Cruel Prince.
I am still obsessed with Jude and she has now solidified her place among my favorite characters ever. I love how smart and resilient she is and I love that she gets. shit. done. She isn’t afraid to do what she needs to do and she is a freaking badass. Even when she goes through HELL, she takes it and moves on and she is just amazing, I love her. Nothing but respect for Jude Duarte.
I have said this in my review for The Cruel Prince, but I wasn’t sold on the Jude/Cardan dynamic in the first book. The hate-to-love dynamic I enjoy is one without the huge power imbalance, and one where the main characters aren’t abusive towards one another. And I don’t feel like that was the case in the first novel and that was what I expected. Also side note: don’t @ me with the “CRUEL is in the title” because I wanted him to be cruel to everyone EXCEPT Jude, okay? Let me be. Anyways, there was a shift in their dynamic, one that I really enjoyed and appreciated. I also felt like their imbalance was somewhat better, although it’s still there. I felt like it shifted more between the two of them, with one having the upper hand at one moment and the other at another, so it really worked.
The stakes in this book felt super high. I think Holly Black excels at this. I was legitimately scared for these characters and it never felt like the ending of the novel or the overall plot did not match the tone. Susan Dennard spoke about this in one of her tweets, but I felt like the characters in this book still went through a lot and had to get over real, threatening obstacles and I never felt like the tension wasn’t real. I loved that Holly Black doesn’t spare her characters and that she makes them suffer and go through heartache – because that’s the tone she initially set for these books. I really appreciated that and I do think it’s incredibly important to do so.
And ultimately, this book was better to me than The Cruel Prince. I felt like it was more consistent in tone and pacing, I felt like the characters and their relationships developed, I felt like the plot was more engaging and I was seriously invested at all times and so sad when I had to put the book down to study.
I will say here that this wasn’t a five-star read for me. It will probably still be in my end of the year list and I am a huge fan of this series, but this book isn’t quite THERE for me. I felt the same way with The Cruel Prince, and even though I liked this more, it just didn’t go all the way. I cannot even pinpoint why exactly. It’s just that most of my five-star reads are emotional five-star reads and this isn’t really there. BUT IT’S SUPER CLOSE.
To sum up, this was amazing, a fantastic sequel that lives up and goes beyond the first book and I cannot physically contain my excitement for the final book. Highly recommend the series if you enjoy characters with power markers which are occasionally really awful.
Final verdict: 4.5 stars
I would love to hear from you – have you read this one yet? Any thoughts? Did you even pick up The Cruel Prince and why on earth not? Let me know!
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