Book Review: The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince

  • Title: The Cruel Prince
  • Author: Holly Black
  • Series: The Folk of the Air, #1
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publishing Date: January 2nd, 2018
  • Publishing Co.: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Length: 12 hours 36 min. (416 pages)
  • Format: Kindle, Audiobook, Audio CD, Paperback, Hardcover
  • Acquired: Received Free Audiobook with Audible Free 30-day Trial
  • Amazon LinkThe Cruel Prince

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.

First Chapter Challenge:

WOW. So much destruction and anger and fear in one chapter… I just don’t even know how to cope. If this is how the rest of the book is going to be–so blunt and graphic and harrowing–then I am ready! I cannot make the voice actor speak fast enough!

In this first chapter, Jude, Taryn, and Vivienne are living in the mortal world with their mortal mother, whom escaped Faerie and her husband years earlier. Unfortunately, Madoc, the aforementioned husband, discovers them and barges into their house. He proceeds to cut down Jude and Taryn’s mortal father without hesitation, and then in a fit of rage, murders his wife–all three sisters’ mother. Madoc did all of this to bring his real daughter, Vivienne, back to Faerie. So, with their parents’ bodies cooling on the floor of their home, all three sisters are stolen and brought to the land of Faerie. There, Madoc will raise all three as his own.

Final Judgment: 4 Stars out of 5

*With this being an audiobook, I will not include quotes from the novel*

I decided to read this book, even though it was not on my March TBR–and this is why my TBR piles are never-ending!–because I was tagged in the Folk of the Air book tag! It was recommended that I read this book first, as the tag does contain slight spoilers… So I decided to give it a try! Be on the lookout for when I actually post the tag soon!

So this is the most hyped-up book I’ve read this year so far… And I think that it lived up to its fame! Jude and Taryn are mortal twin sisters, bastards born to the Fae General Madoc’s wife. Their half sister Vivienne is Madoc’s real daughter and as such, carries within her Fae blood, which takes the form of cat eyes and tufted fur on her pointed ears. They are all three raised in Madoc’s household as his own daughters, alongside his new wife and child, Oak. In this world of Faerie, Jude and Taryn constantly need to be wary–as mortals are easily deceived and magicked. As such, they have both learned various ways to combat the magic of Faerie; salting their food, wearing Rowan berry necklaces, wearing their stockings inside-out, rubbing their eyes with a potion to gain True Sight. But even so, they are vulnerable… As Jude finds out when she begins antagonizing the Noble kids of the court.

Holly Black builds an amazing, fantastical world alongside that of the real, mortal world. There are goblins, sprites, Fae, pixies, you name it! And each is not quite what I would have imagined from my Fairy Tales… Rather, more cruel and brutal. But perhaps this is what makes the story so believable. Even with its Fairy Tale characters and settings, Faerie still holds the corruption and cruelty of life that we in the mortal world have become so familiar with. I only wish that there had been more juxtaposition of the mortal world and Faerie, to more firmly plant in my mind that perhaps there really is a whole, magical world living under a hill in my world. I also wish that the little tricks that Taryn and Jude had learned to keep themselves safe had played a larger role in the story, rather than simply setting up cruelness of the world and the mortals’ vulnerability in the beginning.

For the beginning half of the book, I had no idea where it was going. I am still not sure how I feel about this part, but the ending makes up for it in my mind. But for the first half, it seemed as if Jude and Taryn and Cardan, Locke, and Nicasia and all the others were simply going through the motions, with no real purpose. I had no idea what to expect for the next half of the book, because it seemed like Jude and her story were simply wandering. However, all that changed about halfway/three-quarters of the way through and then it became very interesting. This is when I really got into the book.

As for the characters, I really didn’t like any of them, except for maybe Vivienne. I loved that she is bisexual, especially as her sisters did not freak out about it! It was seen as normal and wonderful, and I love it. I wish more books could include characters with different sexual orientations. She was the only one that seemed genuine and hoping to find real happiness in her life. Jude simply wanted power–which really isn’t a common trait for a protagonist… It definitely threw me off for a bit! And Taryn just wanted to belong in Faerie. Madoc wants war, Locke wants a good story, and Cardan simply wants to forget about all of his woes. There were things to hate in each character, and barely any traits to love. It made reading this book very confusing! I had no idea how I was supposed to feel! But, I have to admit, I did enjoy that feeling. It paralleled how I feel about real people in my real life, as everyone is so complex. We never know exactly how to feel about someone after just meeting them, as there are so many different traits to find and sort through. Perhaps that is why all of these characters seemed so human… Despite many being of the Fae.

I do wish that the events that took place in the novel actually had lasting consequences. It seems as if the murder of Taryn and Jude’s parents was simply in the past, with no lasting effects. I wanted more trauma to come from that, as would be realistic. No child could get over something that easily. Even Vivi, who attempts to thwart Madoc in the most childish ways, seems to have settled into her place in Faerie relatively easily. She does nothing to actually hurt Madoc, only annoy him. But maybe this is a suggestion of Stockholm Syndrome? In any case, there are a wealth of other events that take place–things that Jude does–that are never discussed again, or seem to have any lasting effect.

Lastly, I enjoyed how YA this novel was, even despite its wealth of trauma, cruelty, and complexity. Even though there was quite a bit of politics and hidden messages and spy work occurring, Holly Black did an amazing job of keeping her audience apprised of just exactly what was going on. We were right there with Jude, never being left behind due to confusing circumstances. Black used Jude’s narration to keep us in the loop and clear up any ambiguous clues the story gave us. As an adult, it was slightly overkill, but as a YA book, it was artfully done.

I also just want to put this in as a side note: the romance in this book?! I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I won’t say more… Except, WHAT?!

10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cruel Prince

Add yours

    1. Thank you! And yeah, it’s really just my initial thoughts of the book and whether or not I’m pulled in enough to keep reading. I’m big on first impressions 🙂

      And the audio was good! I’m really picky about my voice actors, but this one didn’t annoy me at all!


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