Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

the cruel prince holly black

Title: The Cruel Prince  
Author: Holly Black  
Series: The Folk Of The Air #1  
Genre: Fantasy, YA  
Publication date: January 2, 2018 
Rating: ★★★★½ 

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.

I wasn’t sure what this book would bring. Blending fantasy elements in a modern world is tricky. I won’t pretend I wasn’t sceptic. A mortal girl abducted by faeries, a cruel prince she has to defy… It could have been really obvious. And the plot does include some familiar tropes, yet it’s remarkable how new and refreshing everything felt. It was not at all what I would have expected.

If you’re looking for action, backstabbing, drama, surprising plot twists, layered characters and just the tiniest hint of romance, you’ve come to the right address. This book never takes the obvious road and every single character operates in grey zones. In fact, there are some truly brutal scenes. And the harsher it gets, the more involved we become. It’s not easy to put this book down. It’s so wickedly compelling. 

You’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet. I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale.

Action starts the moment we open the book and witness the brutal murder of a human couple by general Madoc, who has come to take revenge on the wife that left him many years before. Having no ill feelings towards the three frightened children hiding in the living room, he decides to bring them home, raising them as his own flesh and blood in the world of the beautiful but treacherous and cruel fae.

Ten years later Jude and her sisters are still trying to find their place among them. Begrudgingly accepted through High General Madoc’s status, they are allowed to walk the same hallways and take the same classes, but no faerie will ever let them forget just how little they truly belong. For Vivienne avoidance is the answer. She flees to the human world as often as she can, trying to build a better life for her there. Taryn on the other hand believes compliance is the only option. She wants to belong and she feels the only way is by adapting, through playing by the rules and by gratefully accepting everything that is offered in return.

Neither option is acceptable for the girl who has defiance running in her blood.

Jude is painfully human, beautifully flawed. She’s desperate for acceptance and ready to do just about everything to prove she is more than her weak, mortal body. It’s not easy. Jude is bullied and humiliated. And instead of letting it get her down, she works harder than anyone else to rise above it. To beat them. She listens. She fights. She lies. She kills. A shadow in the dark. Until there is no denying her anymore. Jude is well on her way to becoming an antihero and I can only say the darkness serves her well.

I do not yearn to be their equal. In my heart, I yearn to beat them. 

If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.

There are politics at play that she can’t fully fathom. Hidden agenda’s that she can’t seem to work out. Suddenly she finds herself at the center of a deadly game, holding the power to change the future and no one she can ask for advice. She does what she deems best. Whether her choices will prove to be fruitful, we’ll see in the next book. I’m not entirely convinced she did the right thing, I don’t think she is either. Perhaps there really weren’t any good options. Perhaps that’s what made me love this book so much. 

None of the characters were truly good. Most weren’t truly bad either. Relationships were complex by default and The Cruel Prince could apply to more than one person. I’m really excited to see what the future holds. How the story is going to unfold. The wait for the next book is painful already.

I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. 
If only there was someone to congratulate me.

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