The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
I’ve never really been a big Holly Black fan. Which is a weird quirk of my reading habits–she seems like she’d be right up my alley. And yet I have a hard time warming up to her books and characters. I read Tithe in high school and really disliked it, I read White Cat to similar results (despite being very excited about it), and finally I read The Iron Trial which was just disappointing. So I just wrote her off, until about a year ago when I finally read The Darkest Part of the Forest and loved it. The faeries, the magic, the extraordinary-meets-ordinary, the casual way that fantasy is intertwined into everyday life—all of it.
When I heard about Cruel Prince, I was pretty excited to get more Holly Black faeries. And for the most part, I wasn’t disappointed! The faeries in this are cruel and horrible and so wild (and I mean that in every sense of the word) that I couldn’t help but love them. These are fae as they are supposed to be–god damn scary from the prologue onwards.
I was also hooked onto the story itself, although it took me a little while to get there. The plot seemed to have a few starts and stops and by the time it made itself clear, I was about halfway through, which was a little frustrating. I had a hard time connecting to the characters emotionally as well and although Jude was a great character with grey morality (which I love), she was also rather similar to Hazel (the protagonist of The Darkest Part of the Forest).
I will say, though that I fell for most of the twists and red herrings–and I can usually spot those things from a mile away. I also loved how [SPOILER AHEAD] it felt like the prequel to an epic fantasy novel at the end. I definitely wasn’t expecting that and I am looking forward to what happens next. [/END SPOILER]
So yeah, this book gets 3.5 stars from me. It was a very solid read and I enjoyed it, but there were some aspects that bugged me. The book could have done with some more healthy girl friendships instead of basically none, it could have done with a clear Yes on whether Jude is POC instead of just hinting at it, and it could have done with a little more protagonist variety instead of essentially the same ones we’ve already had. Hopefully The Wicked King will get at least a ½ star bump 😉
Have you read this? What are your thoughts?
Talk to me below!