The Wicked King
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A heady blend of courtly double-crossing, Faerie lore, and toxic attraction swirls together in the sequel to The Cruel Prince (2018).
Five months after engineering a coup, human teen Jude is starting to feel the strain of secretly controlling King Cardan and running his Faerie kingdom. Jude’s self-loathing and anger at the traumatic events of her childhood (her Faerie “dad” killed her parents, and Faerie is not a particularly easy place even for the best-adjusted human) drive her ambition, which is tempered by her desire to make the world she loves and hates a little fairer. Much of the story revolves around plotting (the Queen of the Undersea wants the throne; Jude’s Faerie father wants power; Jude’s twin, Taryn, wants her Faerie betrothed by her side), but the underlying tension—sexual and political—between Jude and Cardan also takes some unexpected twists. Black’s writing is both contemporary and classic; her world is, at this point, intensely well-realized, so that some plot twists seem almost inevitable. Faerie is a strange place where immortal, multihued, multiformed denizens can’t lie but can twist everything; Jude—who can lie—is an outlier, and her first-person, present-tense narration reveals more than she would choose. With curly dark brown hair, Jude and Taryn are never identified by race in human terms.
A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come.
This second in a series neatly avoids the second-book slump; readers of the planned trilogy’s first volume will be expecting plot twists, so it’s even more impressive that this manages to stay one step ahead of its readers. Black expands the reaches of her brutally beautiful world and the depths of her deadly, vulnerable characters, and the employ of yet another cliff-hanger ending will leave readers agonized. A sinister, singular thrill.
—Booklist, Starred Review
An epic saga of palace intrigue and deception