Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Shelf Awareness--The Wicked King

YA Review: The Wicked King

The Wicked King by Holly Black (Little, Brown, 336p., ages 14-up, 9780316310352)

In The Cruel Prince, human Jude used her place among fey royalty and her training as a knight to install a puppet monarch on the throne. Doing so meant working closely with her bitter rival, the hateful Prince Cardan, but allowed her to keep her murderous adoptive father, Madoc, off the throne, and her young, fey brother, Oak, safe from the court.

The Wicked King sees Jude playing the part of seneschal to High King Cardan, though, in truth, she is "the hand behind the throne." She's tricked Cardan into swearing allegiance to her "for a year and a day," but Jude wants to "keep him in [her] power--and out of trouble--for longer than that." Her plan is to crown Oak who, unbeknownst to most, is a child of the previous High King and therefore "of the right bloodline." But before he can take over for this new (and supposedly temporary) High King, he has to grow up. Unfortunately, Cardan, who never wanted the crown, looks increasingly comfortable playing monarch. Meanwhile, Orlagh, Queen of the Undersea, plots to unseat the seemingly "feckless" Cardan, and Jude juggles different court factions to maintain power.

To complicate matters further, Jude and Cardan become romantically involved, sharing the "sinister pleasure" of ill-conceived desire. Jude begins to get swept away in all of her escalating games of love and hate; stakes rise as her ability to lie, and her growing affinity for murder, may well lead to her downfall. The Wicked King has satisfying twists and turns, sizzling passions, brutal violence, spies and revels of all sorts--no one brings the intricate courtly politics of Faerie to life quite as well, or with as much intelligence, as Holly Black. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI.

Discover: As de facto ruler of Elfhame, Jude struggles to retain power in a divided court in this sequel to The Cruel Prince.

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