The Cruel Prince: Review
Holly Black is baaaaaaaaaaack! I remember devouring Tithe and her Modern Faerie Tales as a middle school student. These were among my first forays into faerie lore, and they were made accessible by introducing contemporary, modern characters and language and concerns. Her latest trilogy, The Folk of Air, promises to deliver on the same inventiveness and lush world-building.
*Note: I received this advanced reader's copy for free from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.*
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 years old 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.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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 features some delightfully distinct characters: the mortal Jude who is raised as Fae gentry and longs for nothing else but to prove herself just as strong as the Fae she's raised alongside, her half-sister Vivienne who is a full-blooded Fae but prefers the mortal world to the Courts of Faerie, and Cardan, the broody young prince who prefers to spend his days lounging indulgently than take on any responsibility.
Okay, I admit the romantic tropes are pretty... trope-y. It's a classic case of two characters who spend the entire book hating each other, with some fabulous build-up to an ending that left me wanting more. And that's pretty much the case for the plot of this first book as well. There is a lot of world-building and exposition as Black takes us through the complicated political and court strategies of the Court of Faeries. I loved all of it because of how the magical details truly transported me but for others, this book may move too slowly. If you make it to the end, though, there is some fantastic pay-off! It left me wanting the next book immediately.
Jude is a great protagonist. She's emotionally complex but also relatable and vulnerable as a human in the land of Fae. Her actions actually drive the story towards specific directions and she has full agency. The only throwaway character that I could have cared less about was her twin, Taryn. Their relationship did not make as big of an impact as I'd hoped, and she was extremely forgettable. In retrospect though, she served as the ideal foil to Jude's headstrong attitude.
I rate The Cruel Prince 4/5 stars!
Note: Here's the actual cover of the book! Isn't it awesome?! The Cruel Prince releases January 2nd, 2018.