Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

**This review will have spoilers for The Cruel Prince and a marked spoilers section for The Wicked King.**

After the events of the first novel, Jude Duarte finds herself in a position of influence over the land of Elfhame to protect her family. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

Why did I want to read? Have you read my Cruel Prince review? I fucking love this series. I was literally counting down the days and months until this book came out.

The Wicked King will now become one of the prime examples of me loving a book series and its characters enough to blind me almost entirely to its flaws. I know there are some things about The Wicked King that I found frustrating, and that make me see it as slightly lower in quality than The Cruel Prince. In fact, my review will mostly be dedicated to them. But every time Jude goes into Determinator mode and does something badass I find it really, really, really hard to care.

This book was a five star book for me, even if I’m now going to go into detail over why it possibly shouldn’t be.

TW: abuse, dubious consent

 

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10 Anticipated Book Releases of Early 2019

The bookish forecast for 2019 is looking pretty strong! Many of my favourite authors are releasing new books or long anticipated sequels (the last entire week, for instance, has simply been me counting down the days to The Wicked King), and I was surprised to see how many contemporary books I want to read alongside some exciting new fantasy!

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here are some key books I’ll be reading between January-June 2019!

 

(Release dates listed are for the UK!)

 

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ARC Review: The Girl King by Mimi Yu

Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Why did I want to read? Asian inspired fantasy, with two female protagonists? Sign me up.

The Girl King was a 2019 release I was super excited for, and I felt very privileged to receive an ARC of it. Perhaps because my expectations were so high, the reality was bound to fall a little short. Although there were some glimpses of things I really liked and found interesting – probably enough to induce me to continue the series beyond this point – this book was just ok. And not just ok, but problematic in places, in ways that I only began to really question after I’d finished reading.

TW: rape/sexual assault

 

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Top 10 Books of 2018

Welp, 2018 is almost over, which means it’s time for an annual wrap up!

Despite 2018 being a global trashfire on the whole, I’ve actually had a really good year – I went to Japan, I moved to Glasgow to become a student again, I saw both Hamilton and Wicked! I also actually managed to keep my two New Year’s resolutions: I read Lord of the Rings, and I completed the Couch to 5k challenge (I can now run for half hour straight, although that doesn’t quite get my to 5km yet).

I also successfully completed my Goodreads Challenge goal, which was 100 books this year. I’ve actually ended up reading 116 books in total (which is, it turns out, exactly the same as last year). So, of those 116 books, which ones made it into my Top Ten?

 

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Reading Lord of the Rings for the First Time

Image result for lord of the rings trilogy books

Given that I was planning to study a Master’s in Fantasy Literature, I made it my 2018 New Year’s Resolution to finally get around to reading the entirity of Lord of the Ringswhich was guaranteed to be on whatever future reading lists awaited me (and is a main text of my module next semester).

And I fulfilled my resolution! (just! with one week to go!)

Although I’ve read and enjoyed The Hobbit and watched and enjoyed the LOTR films, I’ve never been a huge Tolkien fan. While it’s pointless to deny how influential he is as a writer, I’ve always been a bit annoyed by the influence he did have: determining the white, Euro-centric traits of fantasy literature for decades to come. And call me crazy, but I quite like having female characters in my books – this book was described to me as having “more trees than women”, and while that’s mainly due to there being an Ent-Moot in Book 2, it is still the truth.

However, perhaps because my expectations were very, very low, I actually found myself enjoying the LOTR trilogy more than I expected. It still only averaged 3/5 on my goodreads (2/5 to Fellowship, 3/5 to Two Towers, 3/5 to RotK) but I wasn’t, like, bored out of my mind. I was, in fact, actually rather invested in the fates of a few select characters. So, what did I learn from reading the LOTR books for the first time?

 

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Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected:

Why did I want to read? Strange the Dreamer was one of my favourite books in 2017, and it had a hell of a cliffhanger ending.

*Spoilers for Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares*

Muse of Nightmares was a highly anticipated 2018 release for me, but it actually took me a while to get round to reading it. I think because maybe I wasn’t hugely in the mood for something as romance heavy as Strange the Dreamer was. And Muse of Nightmares was definitely very romance-filled, but it also delivered a detail heavy, lustrous epic fantasy on an even larger scale than the first book.

TW: murder, rape, sexual assault – not discussed in review

 

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November 2018 Wrap Up

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Welp, November really detached itself from the concept of linear time and went past in what felt like three seconds. My first semester of studying has now come to an end, and I’m working on my two large assignments before going home for Christmas. Honestly, being a student again, particularly of a subject I enjoy so much, has been amazing! And my marks so far have been great!

I felt like this month has been a good reading month, although a lot of it was for my course rather than for fun. But we’re getting to the point in fantasy literature where the books are actually super fun, which means study-books have also become pleasurable! It seems I have gamed the system . . .

This month was also dominated by a reread my favourite trilogyThe Lady Helen series, which came to a climactic, wonderful end this month, enough so that I wrote a rather over enthusiastic blog post about it.

I also got approved for an ARC of The Girl King by Mimi Yu! This is one of my most anticipated 2019 releases, so I’m excited to get started.

Books Read: 9

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4 Reasons Why You Should Read the Lady Helen series by Alison Goodman

November was a highly anticipated reading month for me, for one reason only: the final instalment of the Lady Helen trilogy, The Dark Days Deceit, came out on November 15th. I’ve talked about this trilogy a lot on my various social media platforms. For the last few years, this historical urban fantasy trilogy (made up of The Dark Days Club, The Dark Days Pact, and The Dark Days Deceit) has been the obscure, underappreciated hill I will happily die on, and the final instalment did nothing to change that.

So, to celebrate the trilogy’s conclusion, and as a way for me to finally find more bookish friends to talk about this series with, I thought I would write this (spoiler free) review post to justify why this trilogy holds such a strong place in my heart – despite their horrible covers.

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)31366516The Dark Days Deceit

 

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Mini-Reviews: 1920s Fantasy

So, as my first term of my Masters in Fantasy Literature starts to come to a close, what have I learntMostly, that a lot of early fantasy in the 19th century is simply about sexy evil witch women, and their innocent middle class male prey. But I also found that the post-war era of fantasy – the 1920s, when modernists were writing pretentious fiction and it turns out their pals, like Hope Mirrlees, were writing similar pretentious but much more fun fantasy fiction – is actually super cool.

And in some places unexpectedly progressive. I didn’t expect to find my new asexual power text among the books I read for this part of my course, but here we are.

 

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