Goodreads: The Cruel Prince
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Source: OwlCrate Box Purchase
Published: January 2, 2018
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 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.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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 only other Holly Black book I’ve read was The Darkest Part of the Forest, and I didn’t love it, but I was intrigued by the amazing amount of hype and love that The Cruel Prince has received. Readers seem obsessed, and if there’s one thing that can catch my attention, it’s a well-received YA fantasy novel. Ultimately, I think the hype is slightly overblown, but not much. This is an engaging read with strong world-building, a fast-paced plot, and some complicated court intrigue.
The court intrigue is the strongest draw for me. I love watching characters work out complicated plots and try to get the best of one another. I love characters who are clever and brave or maybe even ruthless. There were a couple times in the book where I was legitimately surprised by the turn of events, which is always a plus for me; I hate being able to predict the plot starting at page five.
The non-intrigue parts of the plot (if you can truly say that these events were unrelated to court politics) are also engaging. I admit that the book has a bit of a Sarah J. Maas feel in the sense that I sometimes thought events happened or characters made decisions largely because they seemed dramatic or epic and not because they completely made sense, but I was invested in the book for entertainment, and entertained I was.
However, this does mean I was slightly disappointed in the characters. They have a lot going on, and most of the characters come really, really close to being amazingly complex and nuanced. Are they monsters? Are they kind? Are they the product of their own choices? Or of their horrible childhoods? Yet by the end of the book, I felt they were underdeveloped, especially Cardan. Possibly Holly Black is dealing with the issue that Fae traditionally have a cruel streak, while she also wants to make them somewhat likable, but I’m not sure she’s found the right balance yet.
However, my wanting to know more about the characters is a good incentive to read book two, The Wicked King. I also want to know what Cardan is going to get up to because I’m sure it will be immensely entertaining. I’m not as in love with this book as many readers (but then I suppose that “overly exciting squeeing blogger” isn’t generally my vibe here), but I did like it, and I recommend it. I particularly thought it was a good take on Fae, as I personally find Fae books hit-or-miss.