ARC Review: The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince

Title: The Cruel Prince

Author: Holly Black

Series: The Folk of the Air, #1

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Release Date: January 2nd 2018


Five Stars

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 himβ€”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

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“No matter how careful I am, eventually I’ll make another misstep. I am weak. I am fragile. I am mortal.
I hate that most of all.”

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.

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

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.

…The Characters

“I stand in front of my window and imagine myself a fearless knight, imagine myself a witch who hid her heart in her finger and then chopped her finger off.”

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.

“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks,” Taryn says. “Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”

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.

“I do not have much power, but here is what I haveβ€”I can force his hand. Cardan might want to hurt me, but I can make him want to hurt me worse.”

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.

…The Setting

“That’s what comes of hungering for something; you forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down.”

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.

32 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Cruel Prince

  1. This is a great review — I love how detailed it is. Mine ( looks so disorganised by comparison, haha.

    I’ve noticed there’s a divide in reviews between people who have read and loved Holly Black’s other fairy books, and people for whom this is the first Holly Black book — and the latter seem to enjoy it a lot less. I wonder if that’s because it’s not as fast paced as her earlier work? Or maybe it’s just that they don’t know what they’re getting into, whereas long-term fans know what they want and Holly Black delivers it. But maybe that’s not universal; I’ve only read a handful of reviews so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, and thanks for the link as well. I’ll definitely check out your review. πŸ™‚
      I feel like there was a massive gap between The Cruel Prince and the latest book she released before that one. I guess people just had expectations when they heard Holly Black’s name. The Cruel Prince is certainly different to Tithe but I loved it; it was darker but it felt like there was more at stake which I love in books. You’re a step further than me because I haven’t really read that many reviews for this book. πŸ˜€


  2. This is one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2017, so I have to admit that I didn’t read a single word of your review πŸ˜‚ I don’t want to spoil a single thing for this one. All I saw was your 5 star rating and that’s all I needed to know from you. Now I’m sure I’ll probably love this book! Thank you Beth! LOL ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m going to start it during the next days and reading this review prepared me a bit more. I’m kinda soft and I always find myself in difficult with more grey moral characters or even villain as protagonists. But I will try my best.
    I’m getting entrigued bit by bit but I’m also kinda scared of getting inside the whole story, if that makes sense

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh, I really hope you enjoy it then, and actually it sounds like it would be better if you were a little prepared for this book. Jude is a great character but her morals are certainly more grey than we’re used to in YA protagonists. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you, and this book. πŸ™‚
      That does make sense, I feel that way about books sometimes but luckily, more often than not, I end up loving the book in question.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooh, I’m super excited for this one! I haven’t read any of Holly Black’s books (except for The Iron Trial, which was mediocre), but I’ve heard she has magical, dark writing, which I’m always up for! I’m interested to see what she does with the world of faerie, since my first experience with them wasn’t exactly the best (An Enchantment of Ravens, hahah). Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t actually read The Iron Trial myself, the only series by Holly Black I’ve read is her Modern Faerie Tales trilogy which I loved, and The Cruel Prince is even better in my opinion. Magical and dark is a great way to describe her writing, especially in this book and she is pretty much the queen of faerie tales in my opinion so even though you didn’t enjoy AEoR I’m sure you’ll love this one May! πŸ˜€ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah that was the first series by her I read when I was in high school (so a long time ago now but I do remember the books being good). I haven’t read The Darkest Part of the Forest or The Coldest Girl in Coldtown but I’ve heard good things about the first.
        Ha, hopefully that means you’ll enjoy it more when you get your hands on it. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay!!! So glad to see so much for love for this book. I haven’t read anything by her yet, but after seeing what this book was about, I had the feeling that was a pretty talented writer! Love that it was nearly perfect in every department, and even had plenty of great twists and turns! Fantastic review, Beth. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one was incredible Lashaan. πŸ™‚ I haven’t read anything by Holly Black in ages, like not since I was in high school I think, but after finishing The Cruel Prince I need more books by her!
      She really is a talented writer, and after this anything she writes is going to the top of my to-read list I think, especially the sequel! πŸ˜€
      Thanks so much. πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I thought it was a great read Angela. πŸ˜€ Yeah I can see how you would be sceptical about the hype because there’s a lot around for this book (I tend to be one of the people who’s always sucked in by the hype) but from what I read The Cruel Prince definitely lived up to my expectations and hopefully it will yours as well. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great review, Beth! I haven’t read anything by Holly Black just yet, I think all of her books are quite… dark? I have The Darkest Part of the Forest on my TBR already, maybe I’ll start off with this one before heading into The Cruel Prince or something. It sounds like the author has a lot of talent to create fascinating worlds, though, that’s awesome πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie. πŸ™‚ ❀ Actually quite dark describes her books really well now I think back on it. Granted I have only read this one and her Modern Faerie Tales trilogy but both aren't light and happy stories you know? Still they're amazing reads and I'm sure you'll love them as well, Holly Black is the queen of faerie stories and yeah her world building is incredible as well! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

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