by Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Published on January 2, 2018 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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.
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Y’all have no idea how excited I was to return to the world of Faerie with The Cruel Prince. Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tale series was one of my absolute favorites in middle school (I had a thing for faerie books) and when I heard that some of the characters would make a cameo appearance in The Cruel Prince, I couldn’t wait to read it. Didn’t even care what the book was about.
And then I fell in love with this book too.
As I’ve come to expect from her books, Black is a masterful storyteller. Everything she writes has this fairytale vibe but it’s so much darker. Twisted. Sometimes horrifying and exciting. The Cruel Prince was no different. This book doesn’t shy away from serious abuse and harassment. There is violence and death. And it gets graphic.
Now what I loved about Black’s books is that the characters are rarely all good or all evil. In fact, the protagonist of this book, Jude, is 100% morally gray. Like majorly so. She wants to be “good” but at the same time there’s a darker, slightly twisted side to her that I absolutely adored. Jude endures so much prior to coming to Faerie and it’s no surprise that she’s a little traumatized from the whole ordeal. And all she thinks she wants is to be accepted by the very creatures that make her life a living hell. But she’s a fighter and doesn’t let anything get in her way, even if it means making some serious mistakes in the process. She’ll do whatever it takes. Literally.
With Jude comes a cast of characters so utterly flawed it’s perfection. Her twin sister Taryn is all over the place. Honestly I went from finding her mildly annoying to nearly throwing the book by the end. And the rest of Jude’s family are fae and wow, okay, make me both love and hate every character in this book why don’t you. I don’t know how Black manages to capture both the cold, calculating fae and mash them with enough human-esque traits to make them this complicated but I was there for it.
And then there’s the Circle, the fae who just love to torture the humans, pulling cruel pranks and being all-around nasty. Led by Cardan. Faerie prince, total jerk, highly abusive and entirely fascinating. Every interaction Jude had with him had me both cheering and wishing she’s slap him and run far, far away. And when Locke started playing a bigger role, I physically cringed his character is so. . . yeah I don’t have words. But I say all that in the best way because this book made me physically feel something and I don’t think that’s the easiest thing to do.
The story bounces around a bit between what the different characters are doing mixed with a heavy serving of court intrigue. All the while Jude is trying to find herself and her place in Faerie court. Without revealing too much, I will say that there is more than enough action and scheming to last you until the sequel (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Oh, and MY FAVORITE FAERIES FROM TITHE SHOWED UP (not spoiling who it is for anyone but if you haven’t read Tithe and the rest of that series, you totally should).
I just. . . I love dark faeries and Holly Black delivered with The Cruel Prince. It’s so hard to describe this book so I’ll simply say that if you love wicked characters and dastardly plots and morally gray characters, you will love this book. Enough said.