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.
― Holly Black,
What a book cover
Kudos to Karina Granda and Sean Freeman for their stunning cover design. A++
To the book itself – honestly I was slightly apprehensive picking it up. After reading Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill I was severely put off reading any book do with fairies and fairy folk because I hated the book SOOO much.
However I decided to put my big girl pants on and get over this little issue. I gotta tell you this is the book on how to do Faeriedom right.
I am not surprised that Holly Black is known as the ‘Queen of Faerie’ she obviously knows what she’s talking about. I felt very safe in her hands; the world was solid and established and that allowed me to become fully immersed in the story.
When Jude was seven years old, her parents were murdered in front of her. To top things off she is then stolen away by her parents murderer, along with her twin sister Taryn and her older sister Vivienne, to be raised in the Treacherous High Court of Faerie. But she is never truly accepted by the Fey, who despise humans, especially the youngest and cruellest son of the High King – Prince Cardan. However, Jude wants nothing more than to be a part of the High King’s court, and is willing to suffer the consequences to get there.
This is a dark faerie story with political intrigue and complicated family relationships. I found that there was a lot more to the plot than I originally expected from reading the synopsis.
The book is full of dreamy descriptions of forests and castles and beautiful clothing. The clothing description in particular I was impressed with because I often find in book that such descriptions are off. Either the colours as described don’t go together in my head or I can’t imagine the shapes and cuts the author is trying to describe. But in this book I found myself wishing I could wear the dresses that Holly Black is describing. I want to go to a faerie ball. I WANNA.
Now I haven’t read a lot of faerie books (Thanks Robert Cargill) but I hear a lot of them are often set statically within a court or castle. This wasn’t the case here. We have quite a range of settings throughout the book, including faerie school. It’s nice to see more of the faerie kingdom of this world than other books might include. Additionally, not knowing a lot of faerie mythology (thanks Robert Cargill) I found that I gained quite a bit of knowledge about the different kinds of fey folk without having a whole load of origin information dumped on me.
The characters were well-rounded and interesting. Each person had their own agenda and much like the world of faerie, not everything was black and white. Because everyone had an end goal and a plan to get there, it eliminated any boring ‘I’m-just-going-to-patter-around-in-this-book-to-serve-someone-else’s-storyline’ nonsense. Every character was there for a reason. I also love a book in which you’re not too sure who is on who’s side.
Jude is a stubborn character. She endures some pretty horrific bullying within this book and instead of standing down or crying about it she digs her heels in and goes ‘Aw HELL no’. Not only does she power on, she goes out of her way to spite her tormentors. I love it when characters are petty and spiteful. But after that, I found myself struggling to connect to her. I wish she had a couple more defining qualities. But hey this is going to be a series so I’m hoping she matures a little and gets more badass.
Prince Cardan is an abusive, drunk, asshole and I LOVE IT. I am trash for characters who are little shits with a lot of swagger and Prince Cardan is the shittiest little shit of them all. Huzzah!
With all these positive things to say you would think I would be in love with this book. But for some reason I’m not. I enjoyed it sure. But it didn’t have that ‘zing’ when I really connect with a book. Perhaps it’s my residual faerie aversion (thanks Robert Cargill). But that won’t put me off reading The Wicked King when it comes out.
If you love a twisty, dark fairy story with a little bit of court life and political intrigue thrown in, this is the perfect book for you.
I give The Cruel Prince by Holly Black 7/10 stars.
I received a copy of The Cruel Prince from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Quote © Holly Black 2018