The Cruel Prince by: Holly Black – #1 in The Folk of the Air series.
AGE GROUP: 14 and up// GENRE: Fantasy// AMOUNT OF PAGES: 384// RATING: 4.8/5
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.
*Please note that I did not write this summary, as I read this book around a month ago and, although I had written most of the review, the summary I had yet to write. The book is not fresh in my mind, therefore I didn’t want to write a summary that was not entirely accurate or didn’t capture the major details of the book.*
This book was everything!
Hey! Welcome back to another review!
I had only heard about The Cruel Prince a couple months prior to my reading it, and I was putting it off because I was on a fantasy hiatus. So, naturally, I was quite dubious going in because of all of the reasons I quit reading fantasy for a solid month and a half (and then this book broke my little break).
To say the least, I’m very grateful I ended up actually picking up The Cruel Prince. However, the plot in this book was, I would say, not what I ended up enjoying the most. The primary challenge is the fact that Jude and her sisters have to survive in Faerie as humans, which is apparently not as simple as it may appear. Nonetheless, Jude definitely has to squeeze her way out of many tight places, BUT most are her fault.
Mostly what kept me reading were the many subplots which, I guess, could be considered plotlines. Though, more importantly, the world of Faerie really held my attention. Again, I was very skeptical going into this book because it sounded like your generic fantasy novel taking place in the realm of Faerie. I have read a fair amount of books that take place in Faerie for a fraction of the book, so to read something that’s main setting is in Faerie was not one I was highly invested in. However, I persevered and ended up absolutely adoring this read!
Faerie was extremely well executed and exceptionally well written. The realm itself is such a mesmerizing but dangerous place, and I felt as though it thoroughly brought this book to life! I mean, the plot was there and all, but I really read this novel for Holly Black’s excellent writing (especially descriptive) skills, for the characters, and for the enticing land of Faerie.🤩
Jude Duarte is one of the most cunning yet likeable main character I’ve ever read about. Her crave for power is one that I see in most YA fantasy characters, but a quality that isn’t normally revealed in many characters would be just how untrustworthy she is. She will do things to herself and others that will make you second guess everything you’ve read about her up until that point. I LOVE it.
Cardan Greenbriar is simply mean. Not only is he exceptionally cruel (it’s easy to guess that he, indeed, is the cruel prince, or maybe it’s not easy and I just spoiled that for you… opps) to Jude, but he is also brutal to anyone who disobeys or contradicts him. Cardan is highly condescending in such a way that you truly want to hate him, but you just can’t. Or, maybe, you can… I don’t know. Holly Black managed to create these characters that you truly feel the need to hate for your own dignity, but simply cannot. Or, I simply cannot. Anyway, I love Cardan so, so much!
All in all, I found the characters in The Cruel Prince to be very multidimensional, which is extremely important because humans are complex; we are not easily figured out at one glance because we have dimension and we are dynamic.
One character in particular (Madoc, who is Jude’s foster father) stood out to me as a “Snapelike” character. Snape (Severus Snape from Harry Potter is who I’m referring to) is a thoroughly complex, unpredictable, misunderstood, yet loyal (I could go one and on about his characteristics) character. I found that Madoc seemingly shares certain characteristics with Snape, but one of the biggest ones I found was the fact that they’re both loyal to the ones they love, no matter what their outwards appearance influences others (even Madoc’s own family) to believe.
HoNestLy. I. CAn’T.
Before I start gushing, I’m just going to point out that Holly Black’s writing taught me so many new words, including the word ‘diaphanous’, which I am keen to use at any opportunity I get. Watch out. Although that word will definitely not come in handy while writing book reviews.
To get right to the point, Holly Black’s descriptions are part of what attracted my attention from page one. Black’s descriptions of Faerie painted such a clear and thrilling picture in my mind, from the taste of the sweet and sugary food, to the lush greenery! I honestly am unable to stress upon how much Black’s writing made me enjoy this book and series (trilogy…? I’m not sure) even more than I already was.
The only drawback to The Cruel Prince for me would be the fact that the premise didn’t captivate me as much as the world and the characters seemed to have. Nonetheless, I would say this book is currently one of my favourite young adult fantasy novels (obviously besides Harry Potter), and I’m beyond delighted for the third installment in this trilogy (yeah it’s probably a trilogy)!!