The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – Review

Cover- The Cruel Prince

Published: January 2, 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: The Folk of the Air #1

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0


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.

The Cruel Prince is one of those books that I’ve been looking forward to since its announcement and as such I had high expectations. It has an awesome cover and synopsis, plus I loved Holly Black’s A Modern Faerietale series that came out back in 2002. This didn’t end up being as mind blowingly awesome as I had hoped, but it was good nonetheless for several reasons.

There were quite a few things I really liked about this book. First of all, Holly Black writes a faerie story that isn’t roses and sunshine – it’s darker and the faeries are cruel, cunning immortals. I don’t want faeries that are kind because in the original tales they weren’t. They were terrifying and would steal your children, spoil your milk, and perhaps even trick you into Faerie and make you dance until you died of exhaustion… Another aspect of The Cruel Prince that I like was how the characters were strong, or at least dealing with their issues all in different ways. Jude is traditionally strong at first glance – she has the heart and talents of a warrior, but as you get to know her, you realize she’s constantly afraid because she’s an outsider in a land that wants to kill her. Her sister Taryn is equally strong but is playing her cards differently – she’s fitting herself into faerie society and trying to find a fae husband to secure her place. Even cruel Cardan is strong in a subtler way than the fact that he’s the prince. This book is about more than the obvious power of a blade or a crown. I also liked that there wasn’t a terrible love triangle or predictable romance. Too many books suffer from that tragedy of plot and The Cruel Prince was not one of them.

There were also a few things that kept me from loving this book from the start. The biggest was that it was so slow to build up to the actual meat of the plot. Far too many pages were spent with Jude and Cardan engaging in classroom bullying x10. I considered DNF’ing it during the early stages but didn’t have anything better to listen to so I stuck it out. I’m glad I did because about halfway through the book things started to get much, much better and by the end I was pretty well hooked. It also took me most of the book to begin to like Jude which is kind of bad because she’s the main character. She just so intentionally contrary and she’s obviously going out of her way to cause more trouble amongst her peers. It was frustrating but fortunately she gets better toward the end.

I’m extremely excited to read the next book despite my initial lukewarm feelings towards The Cruel Prince. I have to say, having also read the A Modern Faerie Tale series, I fangirled just a bit when Kaye and Roiben showed up at the coronation feast. Not gonna lie, it was pretty exciting to find out that both series are set in the same world. All in all, this was a good book and my less than stellar opinion of it is in the minority, so if it sounds awesome to you then check it out!

8 thoughts on “The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – Review

  1. I really loved this book. The slow beginning didn’t bother me, I guess the set up felt more like getting to know the characters and their motivations before the really bad stuff starts happening. I’m so curious about book 2!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Cruel Prince is high on my reading queue, and I also have high expectations for it, based on the reviews I’ve read so far: I will keep your “warnings” in mind, and try to get over the slow beginning until I reach the part where the story truly starts to fly… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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