I was fae-scinated by this book (ugh shut up, Cherelle).
It has been a long time since I dove into a fantasy series, especially one this hyped up. I had high expectations and came out with mixed feelings though spoiler alert: negative > positive.
THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black
Genre(s): Fantasy | Age: Young Adult
Series: Folk of the Air #1
Published: 2 january 2018 || Read: 15 October 2020
No. of Pages: 370 (Hardcover)
Click here to view Trigger WarningsAbuse (graphic), suicide, bullying, murder, alcoholism
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 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.
The Cruel Prince follows Jude, a mere mortal whose parents were murdered, and then from then on when to live in the world of Faerie, and from that point onwards, this book is pure drama.
“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”
Starting off with what I liked, would be the world building. This is my first book on fae and thus it intrigued me. I was stunned especially at the depth of the political system. The rituals, the norms of being brutal, the abilities of the faeries and the discrimination of mortals were all weaved seamlessly into the story!
Next, the plot. The story was rather slow for the most part and repetitive. I understand that it was to build up tension, but it ended up in me not being able to read it at once, especially because some parts were slightly predictable. However, the ending was so much better! Plot twists started kicking in and the action was tangible (don’t we love a good fantasy with spies and fighting and betrayal?). I felt that the ending was the only part of the book I greatly enjoyed.
Furthermore, I had fun with the dynamics between Cardan and Jude. I loved the constant mockery of each other and stubbornness of the two enemies though it is rather repetitive. Holly Black heightens the tension between them extremely well and I was always looking forward to instance between the two of them.
“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”
Okay, despite that, there were several things I wasn’t that pleased about.
The romance. Sigh. Predictable as always. I guess its a common fantasy trope but come on, with such a character like Jude I was hoping for something more original… Plus, the way it was executed wasn’t very original.
Speaking of the character of Jude, I feel that she wasn’t developed that much. She underwent a big change, from being “moral” to going against some fundamental principles (trying to be vague here). That is the kind of character change I love to see, the type that impacts me the most. However, it was not explored much in detail and rather rushed. The reason for her big shift in morals was her hate, but that just stemmed from her “tragic backstory” and her being discriminated which are good reasons but again not expounded to my satisfaction.
Also, I found that there were many interesting characters which could have added a lot of depth to the plot such as Vivi, Locke, Taryn etc. In this book, I got the impression that they were featured only when they were needed to bring about a major plot change instead of having their own story and gradually influencing our protagonist and the plot in their own small ways. Everything was linked directly to Jude, Jude and Jude. (Or do they get more significant in the upcoming books?)
“I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.”
Well, this was my take on The Cruel Prince not having the rest of the series yet! I enjoyed the world of Faerie which was new to me and the riveting plot, but was a little dissatisfied at the romance, character development of the protagonist and role of our secondary characters. I’m curious to see what The Wicked King has in store for me.