I can't believe it ended THAT way.
I can't believe Mrs. Black built such an amazingly lush world, populated with the most virulent yet alluring cast. She cultivated Hope... hope of redemption, just desserts and most of all hope for some form of happy tidings (at least for some of my favs) and then proceeded to crush it/them/me mercilessly... AGAIN!
How could you??? How could you Mrs. Black?? How could you Cardan and Jude and Maddock and Taryn and the whole stinking cast... HOW COULD YOU???
You ensnared me with magical prose that slowly wound their way around my vulnerable heart... and after a painful Hate ---> Love(ish)----> What the Heck is Going On?? burn you take my beating heart in hand and squeeze with impish delight and I know it's not just me (I KNOW it!) AND for our part we love you all the more for it Holly Black!!
*** End run on rant ***
*** Begin Fangirl rant ***
It might seem fickle to start Fangirling now BUT it's just impossible to forgo gushing over perfection. Holly Black you wonderous, magnificent, terrible fiend! Your brain is devious and awe inspiring. Your powers of evocative and intoxicating writing have me wonderstruck. Right now I sit, staring at the ceiling, trying to discern what I just bore witness to. I listened to this on Audible and I'm thankful I did because otherwise I might have done the unthinkable and taken my intense anger and frustration out on my ereader.
::: AUDIBLE GASP :::
I know I know... I don't think I'd do it but in the heat of the moment... you never know. Thankfully I reigned in my emotions. Right now though, while still in the grip of said moment, all I feel is a strong urge to scream... or puke. I am very disappointed with that ending but misdirection leading to evisceration is Mrs. Black's signature move and I mean that in the most reverent way possible.
If you don't know Holly Black then let me tell you just how immersive and heartwrenching her transcendent writing is. She has an impressive catalog of novels to her name. The ones I have read thus far are equal parts stunning and monstrous and I have loved/loathed them just as she commands... I am her emotional puppet and I love every second of her machinations! She has a way of crafting multidimensional characters that are at once relateable yet utterly foreign and you just can't get them out of your brain. I finished Cruel Prince a while ago and I still find myself daydreaming about it. Putting myself squarely in the middle of that world... love-hating (it's a thing) every last smidge of awesomeness that is her imagination. Her worlds stick to you and change you and you can't help but love her for it.
There are so many characters that deserve to be mentioned both for how beautifully they're crafted and how beautifully duplicitous they inevitably turn out to be...BUT... if I single out each one... those that are tangible and capable enough to cause you pain with a simple snap of their sharp tongues, I would be naming the whole cast of devious miscreants so I will limit my comments to the superstars.
- Jude Duarte is the MC you love to see fail and then redeem herself. She happens to be the most humanly flawed, presumptuous, arrogant, hyper motivated, type-A kick ass heroine I have read in a long time and I can't help but root for her to succeed in all her duplicitous endeavors... now her dastardly scheming twin sister on the other hand...
- Jude's stepfather Maddock doesnt have a lot of speaking lines in book 2 but he sure knows how to make himself known and his presence/might felt. Man oh man, he is one slippery, Machiavellian snake in the noxious grasses of Elfhain. He is a proficient player of the game of Kings and Queens and courtly manipulations and how I hope that he and his ilk get what's due them! ::: insert evil cackle :::
- Now Cardan, ohhhhh Cardan... Even though you are one nefarious Fairy, you have kept your place on my list of literary loves (though you are no Will Herondale). We get to know quite a bit of your backstory and oh how it makes me love you all the more. Not that innocent - carve our initials into a tree, holding hands and saying "no I love YOU more" back and forth ad nauseum- kind of love. It's more like the - tortuous, ugly crying into my pillow for days/months/however long it takes because you're a bad boy... a VERY bad boy BUT I saw a side of you I cannot unsee and because of this I will love you until the end of time...or until I come to my senses, whichever comes first- kind of love.
Do you fancy courtly intrigue?? Do you love subplots within plots within schemes that you swear you can foretell yet invariably find out you're way off? Yes? Then settle in, you are in the right place. You will run the emotional gamut, come out the other end wrung dry and STILL crave, beg, plead for more! That is the majesty of Holly Black!
Even after saying all this I fear that I have not properly given Wicked King its due, for I am a mere mortal. Without magic in me I cannot express just how perfect this book is, all I can say is READ THIS!! YOU'LL LOVE-HATE IT!!