Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: Folk of the Air, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Holly Black and I… Honestly, we haven’t exactly been on the best of terms. I tried reading her debut novel, Tithe, in high school, and the writing style and plot were so weird to me that I ended up giving it to a friend. But when I read one of her more recent fairy books in 2015, The Darkest Part of the Forest, things changed for me. I was absolutely entranced, and when I found out that she was writing a brand new one, this one a trilogy opener, I put it on hold at my local library as soon as possible. I picked it up, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while, beckoning me with its stark white cover, adorned with dark branches and a glittering golden crown. I didn’t have any more renewals on it, so I pushed it to the top of the stack, partly out of necessity and partly out of killer anticipation. And this book is probably my favorite of Black’s—I can’t wait for the sequel!
Jude’s parents were brutally murdered by her sister’s redcap father, Madoc, when she was just seven years old. He spirits her, Vivi, and her twin sister Taryn to the High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, she longs for her own place in her father’s court, where she is respected and accepted by the faeries. Her sister, Taryn, wishes for love and romance at the hands of a handsome faerie noble, but Jude wishes fervently for something different: Her own place in Faerie as a Knight for the Court’s High King. But soon she finds herself wrapped up in a dark, vicious web of lies, secrets, and political intrigue, and she must reluctantly make an alliance with the faerie she hates most: Cardan, the King’s youngest son. Forced to use every bit of wit, cleverness, and knowledge she’s acquired since coming to Court, Jude must decide if she wants to fight for Faerie, even as she longs for a better life, and even if it means sacrificing everything…
This book was, in a word, absolutely fantastic. It’s probably my favorite Holly Black book to date, even better than The Darkest Part of the Forest. This book was similar to that, but better! The prose was gorgeous, hypnotic, even during some of the book’s most violent scenes. I was absolutely spellbound by Jude’s story, and by Jude herself. I loved how she wasn’t the typical main girl character; how she went after what and whom she wanted, and the consequences didn’t matter. I loved how she was totally ruthless in her ambition. Her sisters, too, were good foils for her: Taryn with her want of romance and excitement, and Vivi, the only true faerie of the girls, who longs to be free of a life of violence and intrigue and just be with her mortal girlfriend, and fights their father, Madoc, and their way of life. I was totally seduced by the gorgeous, mysterious Faerieland, where lies and promises are hidden inside honeyed words, one bite of sweet, golden fruit can send you spiraling into madness, and hiding skeletons in your closet can mean certain ruin—even death. I loved all of the characters, but especially Madoc, Locke, and Cardan. Especially Cardan. One of the things I loved most about this book was the constant romantic tension—I was dying. And that ending! Oh my gosh, Holly, how in the world am I supposed to wait until 2019 for The Wicked King?! How could you do this to me?! The Cruel Prince is one of my favorite books of 2018; the only problem is that I have to wait for the sequel! The bottom line: A darkly glittering fairy tale more Grimm than Disney, The Cruel Prince is one of the best books of 2018, and I can’t wait for the sequel! Talk about a major book hangover! Next on deck: The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith!