Book Review: The Cruel Prince

26032825Rating Five Star

Title: The Cruel Prince

Author: Holly Black

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Series? Yes


Book Depository // Dymocks // Booktopia

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Many YA reimaginations of Faerie conjures up an impossibly beautiful wonderland, populated by beautiful lords ready to romance our mortal protagonist. Enter Holly Black: exacting in her portrayal of Faerie as a beautiful nightmare, inhabited by cruel and capricious creatures. This dark tale is a story with teeth, where ambition and vengeance drive the plot forward. For Jude, romance is less than an afterthought, especially if she wants to survive in a world hell-bent on diminishing her worth. The Cruel Prince is a story about a girl wrestling for control of her own narrative, and discovering that to fight monsters, she might have to become one.

The Cruel Prince

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

Jude Duarte is no stranger to the horrors of Faerie. During her first encounter with the Fair Folk, she witnessed the brutal murder of her parents. Along with her sisters, she was stolen away to Faerie, where she grew up as daughter to her parent’s murderer: General Madoc of Elfhame. However, Jude’s relationship with Madoc and Faerie is not governed solely by fear and resentment, there’s also love and a deep yearning for acceptance. Jude starts out striving to become a knight of the faerie court, though her ambition soon takes a darker turn. Spurned on by the incessant cruelty of her immortal classmates and the political machinations of faerie princes, Jude finds herself in a position where deception becomes her main currency.

The Cruel Prince will likely be polarising due to its relentless darkness, all the main characters are self-serving by design. As Jude said herself at one point in the book “I love my parent’s murderer, I suppose I could love anyone.” Living amongst the Fair Folk has twisted Jude’s moral compass and left her ill-equipped for the human world. Although she attempts to be the hero numerous times in the story, Jude is fallible. This makes her steady transformation through the novel all the more intriguing to follow. Certain events towards the latter half of the book makes me believe that her character development, though expansive, still has a long way to go.

“He looks like a faerie lover stepped out of a ballad, the kind where no good comes to the girl who runs away with him.”

I appreciated the way faerie-human relationships were handled in this book. From the beginning, it’s made clear that there is a vast imbalance in their relationship – savagely revealed by way Jude’s parents were murdered with an awful ease.  Holly Black never allows the reader to indulge in the fanciful marvels of Faerie for long, we’re always quickly reminded of the corruption which belies the perfect faces and gilded halls. The dangerous contradictions of Faerie are best seen in Madoc, and also in Cardan – the sixth prince of Faerie. He is spiteful and vicious, and the book never lets us forget it. His relationship with Jude is mutually destructive, yet I cannot tear my eyes away. I love that Jude is cognizant of the differences between herself and the Fair Folk, and she’s cunning enough to use the knowledge to her own advantage.

I’ve read a few other Holly Black books in the past, and The Cruel Prince easily surpasses them in terms of writing. The prose is as bewitching as the faerie they describe. There is such a conviction in the way she writes her characters, even when said characters are experiencing an inner conflict of identity. Within the writing, I felt the war between Jude’s humanity and her survival instincts, the blurred line between love and hate. Within these pages are unbreakable oaths and a multitude of betrayals, along with half a dozen intense plot twists which kept me turning the pages. I cannot wait for more.

Note: Content warning for a lot of intense bullying and violence within the book. There is also a scene with an on-screen suicide.

Have you read this book or any other Holly Black? What did you think?

25 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cruel Prince

  1. YESSS THIS IS MY FAVOURITE. I’M IN SUCH AWE!! (I cannot stop flailing honestly. 😍😍) I love a ton of Holly Black’s other books but I think this is my favourite!?? It was, absolutely, bewitching and Jude was like the heroine (antiheroine?!) I keep wanting to read about. Also I think I hate Cardan and then he went and was a bit tragic and totally Slytherin and now I just need more books to figure it all out because ahhh Cardan. 😭❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read any of Holly Black’s books, but I’ve been meaning to FOREVER. I’m really interested in the MC in this one – she sounds like a complicated and not entirely likeable character. I love to read those sorts of women.


  3. I loved this too! Her characters were so complex, and I loved how there weren’t any easy answers. I loved the way she sets up things for the next book, can’t wait!


  4. I somehow didn’t like this as much as I expected to! Weirdly, I was way more interested in the other two sisters than I was in the actual protagonist. I’m hoping since this is a series, it’ll follow different characters in subsequent books. I loved Vivi so much!


  5. I cannot find words to describe how much I love your review – this book sounds right up my alley! *hastily scribbles on to-read list*


  6. I’ve been put off of fae stories because of a particular author, but recently enjoyed An Enchantment of Ravens, so I want to give this one a shot since so many are praising it. I like that this one has a lot of darkness. It’s something that would appeal to me rather than tun my off. Appreciate your thoughts on this one. Lovely review!


  7. I really did enjoy this book, but I have mixed feelings about it. I read the synopsis forever ago, and went into it with a completely different idea than were the story actually went. Even though it wasn’t what I expected, I still enjoyed how dark and intense and stabby this read was. Jude is such a complex character, and I honestly cannot wait to read more! Great review!


  8. This is a fantastic review, and I’m really excited to pick this one up! I haven’t read a book with faerie maybe since I was 15 but the ones I read then, I adored. This sounds like a much darker and more twisted version of the other faerie books I’ve read, and even though I’ve never read anything by Holly Black before, I’m certain I’ll be picking The Cruel Prince Up 🙂


  9. I read The Cruel Prince, and I loved it! It’s one of my favorite books I read this year so far, and I’m all about the dark vibes and lovely prose. Unfortunately, 2019 is SO FAR AWAY, and I don’t want to wait that long to read the sequel and find out what happens.


  10. I absolutely loved this book. It was unputdownable. It’s definitely dark, but I thought that was handled very well. And I fell head over heels for the characters. I wasn’t sure I’d like it when I started it, but I was hooked by the end.


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