Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince

Publisher: Brown Books for Young Readers
Author: Holly Black
Released: January 2nd 2018
Received: Own
Warnings: Kidnapping, Choking, Poisoning
Rating: 4 kitties

The Cruel Prince is the first novel in the Folk of the Air series by Holly Black. It follows a young human girl named Jude as she desperately tries to find meaning, success, and happiness amongst the fae. None of those are easy challenges, to put it lightly.

I’ve been a fan of Holly Black for a while now. So I knew right away that I was going to have to read The Cruel Prince. I didn’t get to it as quickly as I would have liked, but at least I finally made time for it! And the sequel is already out too, so I don’t have to spend any time anxiously waiting for it. Bonus!

The Cruel Prince is exactly the sort of fae story I would hope to find. Its dark, has fae rules, laws, consequences, and isn’t afraid of showing how terrifying the fae can truly be. There’s tons of politics going on, the sort that makes human politics look kind and pretty.

This isn’t a novel full of pretty air-headed little fairies. Okay, they’re still pretty. But if you underestimate them then you’re unlikely to survive very long in their world. Even knowing how dangerous they are, the odds are still against you.

It’s so hard to find a fae novel that really delves into the darkness of the fae, so I rejoice when I come across one. To anybody else out there on the same search as me; give this series a try. It’s worth it.

Spoiler Warning

Warnings: The Cruel Prince is an aptly named title. It does a wonderful job of showing the brutality of the fae. That does mean that some heavier subjects are touched upon. Choking, poisoning, kidnapping, mind control, and anything else you can think of.

I loved every minute I spent reading The Cruel Prince. I was actually terribly disappointed when it was over, simply because I wanted to be able to keep on reading. This was exactly the sort of novel I had been hoping for from Holly Black, and boy did she deliver.

Holly Black has a way of making us truly care about her characters. Or, more accurately, she has a way of making us feel something about those characters. Sometimes we love and root for them. Other times we love to hate them. There’s a variety of emotions in between as well. It’s quite wonderfully done.

I adored Jude’s character. I really wanted to see her succeed, even as I found myself cringing whenever she made a move that felt unwise. I love how brazen and determined she is, how she refused to give up even against the worst odds.

Jude is nothing like her twin sister, whom I’ll admit I was less than fond of during this novel. I don’t know how Holly Black was able to make these two characters so different and similar at the same time, but somehow she managed it.

There were lots of elements I loved in this novel. For example, her adoptive father and many of the details about him. Like what type of fae he was and his particular…habits after a battle. I love that Jude had to constantly fight with herself not to love him, as she so badly wanted to. It was really interesting, but also so painfully human. It made the whole situation feel that much more real.

The complexity of the political situation and schemes going on in The Cruel Prince was pure perfection. Some of it was predictable, while other parts were laid out to appear to be predictable, only to pull the rug from under us. And then there were the parts that went even beyond that. All these maneuvers wove together to create an intricate society that I’d expect from the fae. It was really well done.

The one bright side about being behind in reading a novel like this is that I don’t have to wait to get my hands on the next one. It’s already out! The Wicked King is already available, and it’s gotten pretty decent reviews. It looks like there’s a short story (The Lost Sisters) between the two books, so I’ll probably take the time to read that one first. Just in case. It looks interesting.


About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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