Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air, #1
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
By #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, the first book in a stunning new series about a mortal girl who finds herself caught in a web of royal faerie intrigue.
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
Ever since she witnessed her parents killed in front of her when she was seven Jude has lived in the High Court of Faerie. She is treated like a daughter by the man who stole her and her sisters away, but despite that she is not his daughter, not a true born fae, and those outside of her family despise Jude and her twin Taryn for their mortality. Jude wants nothing more than to truly belong to the world she’s lived in for ten years, and the only way to do that is to win a place at Court by becoming a Knight.
When it comes to faerie stories there is no better author than Holly Black in my opinion. Her Modern Faerie Tales series was one of the first YA trilogies I read and fell in love with, and reading The Cruel Prince made me want to jump back into that world. This story showed us the beauty of the world Jude lived in but it focused more on the darkness and cruelty of the High Court, the darkness that Jude slowly finds herself trapped in.
When Jude doesn’t get the chance to prove her skills and pledge herself as a Knight she finds another path to the acceptance she craves. However it’s a path that reveals to her the cruelty of the High Court, and the bitter hatred of the High Prince Cardan, and Jude soon finds not only her own life at risk but the lives of her siblings as well.
Sometimes in first books of new series I’ve found there can be a lull as authors set up the characters and the world where the action suffers, but that really wasn’t the case in The Cruel Prince. Not only did Holly Black write incredible characters, not only she did developed a darkly beautiful world in that of the High Court, but she wrote an incredible story that had me hooked with so many twists and turns that I never really knew where I stood with this book.
Jude has spent most of her life among the fae, but they’ve never let her forget her mortality or that she is not one of them. All Jude and her sister Taryn want is to properly belong in the High Court, and while Taryn seeks to find her place through love and marriage Jude seeks approval through herself and her skill with a blade. Jude is an incredible fighter, throwing herself into her lessons with Madoc and her teachers, but in Madoc’s eyes she doesn’t have the strength in her to kill when needed and her teachers too often bow to Cardan’s whims.
One thing that I really wish had been developed more was the relationship between Jude and her sisters. Her older sister, Vivienne, is Madoc’s true daughter and the reason he came to the human world and killed their parents ten years ago. Despite belonging to the High Court Vivi hates everything about it and hates that her sisters both love it so much. Still no matter what she does Vivi is on Jude’s side, always there to support her no matter what she’s done.
The relationship between Taryn and Jude is more complicated, for reasons I can’t really go into for fear of spoilers, but this more than any other is the relationship I wish had been developed more. Taryn is an interesting character but we never discover enough about her for her to be more than a background character in Jude’s story. Taryn is loyal to Jude, stands by her sisters side even when Jude goes toe to toe with Cardan, but there are secrets she keeps that get in the way of that loyalty as the story unfolds.
Although he killed her parents Jude cannot help but see Madoc as a father figure. He raised her and her sisters for ten years, gave them a home and treated Jude and Taryn like his own even though they are not. Still Jude cannot forget what he did to her parents. It makes their relationship a complicated one and I hope it’s expanded on in the next book, especially after everything that happened and that was revealed at the end of The Cruel Prince.
Cardan is the youngest son of the High King, and as such he gets everything he wants with no questions asked. Still there’s something about Jude that gets under his skin. As the daughter of the High King’s general, despite not being of his blood, Jude is protected by Madoc’s name, but the more she taunts Cardan the more he pushes back, and the crueller his games get putting both Jude and Taryn in danger. Still there’s a lot about Cardan’s character we don’t know, and where with Taryn it made her seem like a background character with Cardan it made him seem like someone with secrets we’ve yet to uncover.
At first glance the High Court of Faerie is a beautiful place, full of gorgeous fae, grand balls where the guest dance until dawn, and grand homes. However the further you look beneath the surface the more you see the darkness that beauty hides, the mortals drugged on faerie fruit and made into mindless servants, and the danger behind every bargain made and promise given. I love books about faeries, and a large part of that is because of the world they have. Through Jude’s eyes Holly Black focuses on the danger this world has. As a mortal living among the fae every time Jude interacts with the High Court there are rules she has to abide by, and it added an extra level of tension to the story when one wrong move could see her poisoned by faerie fruit.
There is a lot of hype for this book, everyone seems excited for Holly Blacks newest series exploring the world of the faerie, but The Cruel Prince more than lived up to the expectations for it. Jude was a brilliant character I was rooting for throughout the story, I loved the world building, and I can already tell this is going to be a new favourite series of mine.
What did you think of The Cruel Prince? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.