The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was on my wish-list for a while due to all the love for it that I saw on bookstagram and because I re-read Holly Black’s book Tithe recently. I don’t read a lot of YA fantasy but since reading and loving the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas based on bookstagrammers’ recommendations, I thought I would give The Cruel Prince a try.
If you don’t want to know anything at all about this book, don’t read on. I am going to reveal a tiny bit of plot that occurs in the first few chapters.
Set in the world of Faerie, the story is told from the point-of-view of Jude who is a human girl living in this world with her twin sister Taryn, half-faerie sister Vivi and Vivi’s faerie father General Madoc and his second wife and son Oak. This somewhat complicated family were brought together after Madoc finds his first wife (the mother to all three girls) in the human world after years of thinking she was dead along with his unborn child. Enraged, he kills her and her new husband and takes the three girls away to live among the faerie gentry at the court of the High King.
Jude and her twin Taryn are brought up like faerie gentry and forced to endure lessons alongside faerie teens that loathe them. The world of faerie is cruel and tricky and as humans they need to always be on their guard. Prince Carden is an example of all that is rotten in faerie and is Jude’s arch nemesis. (He reminded me of a combination of Rhysand from ACOTAR — without the niceness — and Draco from Harry Potter). But Jude doesn’t feel like being meek and mild anymore. She craves power and a position of her own in the faerie ranks.
“…Taryn is right about stories. Bad things happen to those princesses. They are pricked with thorns, poisoned by apples, married to their own fathers. They have their hands cut off and their brothers turned into swans, their lovers chopped up and planted in basil pots. They vomit up diamonds. When they walk, it feels as though they’re walking on knives.
They still manage to look nice.”
And that’s where I will leave it. I devoured this book. There was so much drama and intrigue, twists and turns. I really liked Holly Black’s twisted faerie world and how it is located alongside the modern world. I loved her dark descriptions of the faerie lands and the creatures that inhabit it. And the main protagonist Jude is gutsy, interesting and a bit bloodthirsty.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to like The Cruel Prince, but I did. My only criticism of this book is that some of the romantic relationships are so angsty. I don’t really buy into the ‘boy treats you mean but you are still into him’ trope. And vice versa. But perhaps it’s a faerie thing.
Now there is a long wait for the second book in the series. I almost wish I had waited for the whole series to be published so I could read them all at once. It’s hard waiting for the next book in a series!
Verdict: A very enjoyable, stabby fantasy read.
Have you read The Cruel Prince? What did you think?