The Wicked King: The Folk of the Air, Book 2

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Wicked King: The Folk of the Air, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Politics take center stage in suspenseful fantasy.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Uses elements of Celtic folklore and mythology as inspiration for tale of courtly intrigue. Plot raises questions about loyalty and family.

Positive Messages

Family is worth fighting for. It is often wise to wait before rushing into danger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A human girl living among treacherous near-immortals, Jude has to stand up for herself and her siblings when wicked King Cardan unleashes his cruelty upon them. She's brave and resourceful, but also stubborn and shortsighted in her quest for respect or retribution.


Jude engages in knife and swordfights and kills at least one opponent in cold blood. She's kidnapped and tortured.


Jude and Cardan are fiercely attracted to each other. When they finally give in to their passions, the scene ends without much description.


Minor amount of swearing: "bulls--t," "hell," and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jude administers nonlethal doses of poison to herself as a prophylactic measure.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Holly Black's The Wicked King continues the story begun in The Cruel Prince. Based on Celtic folklore, the novel presents an original new take on Faerie and its inhabitants, the fey. The threat of violence permeates the plot, which includes stabbings (fatal and otherwise), torture, poisonings, and deadly magical spells. The main characters develop a sexual relationship, but their passion is described in vague terms. Swearing is infrequent and limited to some instances of "bulls--t," "hell," and "damn."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynofrigatelikeabook January 31, 2021
Mild kissing scenes, the characters DO NOT in fact sleep together. Mild violence, but not heavily described. Lovely cliffhanger ending, and a beautiful continua... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAudrey465 July 20, 2020

An amazingly written, gorgeous book, focused towards teenagers

This book is a must-read! Holly Black is an amazingly talented author with a skill for romantic dialogue and fight scenes. While most of the romance is talk and... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byComplex March 25, 2019

I loved it

This was a great book, well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable. It is a great sequel, but it has a terrible cliffhanger!

What's the story?

As THE WICKED KING begins, mortal Jude is measuring the consequences of the double-cross she perpetrated on immortal Cardan. He may sit on the throne, but she is able to force him to do as she orders. The spell will last only about a year, though, and Cardan does his best to humiliate Jude whenever he can. Jude faces other threats, including news that someone close to her will betray her. When war erupts between the denizens of the land and the sea, Jude must use all her skills to protect her family.

Is it any good?

The first volume of this fantasy series ended with a crackerjack plot twist, and this volume deftly explores the consequences of getting what you think you want. Jude is a resourceful, brave, and passionate protagonist, driven to prevail over her antagonists, and The Wicked King spotlights her at a particularly vulnerable point. Author Holly Black delivers plenty of magic and mayhem, but the emphasis here is on politics. The Folk are manipulators of the first order, and Black keeps the stakes high as Jude tries to outmaneuver them. There are plenty of surprises and suspenseful set pieces. No one who's fallen under Black's spell will consider breaking it at this late date.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Wicked King uses Celtic folklore to generate the plot. What do ancient myth and folklore have to say to modern readers? Why is fiction about Faerie interesting to modern readers?

  • Jude and Cardan are attracted to each other, despite being polar opposites. Why do people sometimes choose romantic partners who have different values?

  • What would it be like to be unable to tell a lie? How would complete honesty affect your relationships with people?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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