Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black [Folk of the Air #1] | Yet Another Hyped Book that Fell Flat, Hurray

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.


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 Warnings Abuse (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.

Goodreads |  Amazon


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.

rating // ★★

Have you read The Cruel Prince? Does the series get better and truly live up to the hype?

30 thoughts on “Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black [Folk of the Air #1] | Yet Another Hyped Book that Fell Flat, Hurray

  1. Ooh interesting! This is one of the books that’s been hyped up so much but I’m not sure about starting…. your review gave me a lot of insight!! I’m probably going to give this series a pass, though I’m looking forward to what you think of the rest of the series — if you enjoy it, I might change my mind 😆 Thank you for sharing Cherelle, and great review! 💕

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha thank you… yeah, I was a little disappointed in how it turned out, especially because I was expecting a lot from my first book about fae which everyone recommended. Hopefully the rest of the series takes a turn for the better as there are certain elements like the lovers to enemies trope which had great potential and one that I would love to read more about! Thanks for your comment, Abby! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt the same until I read it! Its okay, you aren’t missing much out haha, I wasn’t very impressed with this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree with you! I actually really didn’t like The Cruel Prince, but trust me…..the rest of the series is SO MUCH BETTER!😍😍😍 TWK is def more mind-blowing than the first book, in my opinion hehe. Love your review!💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I’m so glad to hear that! I’m quite a bit into TWK now and I must say it is rather mind-blowing haha. 🤪

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had mixed feeling about The Cruel Prince as well, but ultimately kept reading for the world-building and court intrigue.

    I’m generally not a fan of hate-to-love relationships (especially here where constant bullying and abuse is involved), but I am curious to see if certain characters redeem themselves in The Queen of Nothing. It could go so many ways… :O

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed the world-building was what kept me going especially with The Cruel Prince being my first book on fae! Yeah, the bullying and all was painful to read but is a very good basis for development on so I am also curious to find out more…

      Thanks for commenting, Noelle! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I can see why there are mixed reviews with certain elements like the world-building being top-notch and others… a disaster. Thanks so much for your comment! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I have no idea! The world-building is really good but other than that it wasn’t as great as it is hyped up about. But if the following books turn out good, it would be worth a try! 😆
      Ahhh the dilemma with books!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it gives unrealistic expectations 😦 but on the other hand, some hypes enabled me to find favourites! But in this case, The Cruel Prince failed in living up to expectations…
      Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I read the Cruel Prince in 2018, I believe, and I DNF’ed it half way through (I still have not finished it til this day) but I moved on to the Wicked King in 2019 and enjoyed it way better than the first book but it still was not a five stars. I like the writing style and I actually like Jude as the main protagonist but something about The Cruel Prince, that I can’t put my finger on, pushed me not to finish the book.

    Really loved your review! It’s really well written and I agree with the predictable plot. Even then I fairly enjoyed it. I hope you enjoy The Wicked King more!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I see, I’m glad to know TWK is much better as I had high hopes for this series! Indeed, Jude is a rather interesting protagonist but The Cruel Prince also did not manage to get me to connect to her. 😦

      Thank you so much Eryn! Your comment means a lot to me. 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m actually in the middle of reading this right now! I like it so far, but I’m only on chapter 6. So we’ll see. I’ve heard so many mixed things about this one that I wasn’t sure if I should read it or not, but I am 🥺 Okay this is a random idea, but after I finish The Cruel Prince, do you want to buddy read The Wicked King? It’s okay if you don’t want to, it was just an idea 😊 Loved your review ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh coincidence! Yes, it is good to go ahead and read the book to see for yourself… 😆

      Ahh I have never done a buddy read (and have no idea what it is) but it sounds super fun! (especially for anti-social me haha) Unfortunately, I nearly finishing the trilogy as I have no patience with series!
      So sorry about it. 😥 Perhaps once you are finished with the trilogy (if you complete it), you can send me a message via goodreads and we can arrange another one?

      Thanks so much, Katie! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have wanted to read this series just so I can understand what all the talk is about (good and bad), but it’s reviews like yours that turn me off even more 😆 I read The Coldest Girl in Cold Town and really disliked it so maybe I’ll just hold off on Holly Black for now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was in the same situation as you before but I decided to take the plunge! But yep, it is good to be discerning and don’t read books you know you probably wouldn’t like. I’m so pleased to know that my review had an impact you haha… but let’s see how the rest of the series goes! 😊 Thanks for dropping by, Ali!

      Liked by 1 person

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