Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult

[Review] The Cruel Prince by Holly Black


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Publisher: HotKey Books (Jan 2, 2018)
Series: The Folk of the Air #1


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’d like to thank Pansing Singapore for sending me a copy of The Cruel Prince for review.

Rating 4

Hello, bookish family. It has been a while since I’ve consistently blogged – I do not consider what I am currently doing “consistent” – and I really hope I get my blogging mojo back. Chinese New Year was great but hectic at the same time, but I was super excited to wear my gold samfu and pranced around like an adorable Malaysian Panda (Yes, people. I just referenced Gloria Chao’s American Panda).

Now, on to my review of Holly Black’s latest YA fantasy, The Cruel Prince.

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

Disclaimer: a lot of my bookish friends, especially those who I follow on Twitter and my Goodreads friends, compared The Cruel Prince to Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns of Roses. Well, the last time someone compared a book to ACOTAR – it was An Enchantment of Ravens – I was sorely disappointed that it didn’t even come close to the Rhysand and his ginormous wingspan. Therefore, I went into The Cruel Prince with low expectations and tried not to compare it to ACOTAR. And I failed spectacularly.

I guess it is a bold statement to make if I were to say that most faerie stories have this very similar premise. Read: humans or “mortals” who find themselves among fair folk. We saw it in ACOTAR and An Enchantment of Ravens (and probably other books on faeries that I haven’t read) and it is no different in The Cruel Prince. But get this, I didn’t mind because I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince!

I found the entire Faerie world created by Holly Black incredibly imaginative. I was completely enraptured by the descriptions of the world where the book is set in. Throw in a delectable dose of magical writing and you have a stunning winner. There’s something about Holly Black’s writing that made me feel so engrossed while I was reading The Cruel Prince.

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

The Cruel Prince is equally haunting as it is spellbinding. I would even say that it’s almost as good as ACOTAR but I am partial towards Feyre and Rhysand, so I do apologise for being a Sarah J. Maas trash. Please still love me.

In many ways, the protagonist, Jude, reminded me a lot of Feyre. She is cunning, willing to prove her worth and ambitious. Having been living among the fair folk for about 10 years has taught her that she must be hyper-aware of everything that happens when it comes to dealing with their kind. Therefore, it is vital for her to rely on her wits to survive among the fair folk and I must say, I do like a character who’s resourceful and determined.

“If you hurt me, I wouldn’t cry. I would hurt you back.”

Let’s talk about the princely asshole who everyone loved to hate, especially me. At the beginning, I found Cardan to be so unlikeable and I was genuinely baffled that Holly Black created such a douche of a character but then, this smug pinecone grew on me. Like, I actually developed a love-hate thing for him. The only downside was that I felt that Cardan had quite little pagetime (something like screentime but in books!) and I hope this prickly sod plays a bigger role in the second book. Judging from how The Cruel Prince ended, I am very convinced that we will definitely be seeing more of Cardan.

As for the plot, I felt like it read very well and I liked the pace of the book. I don’t want to spoil too much of the book for you, but do approach with caution because there are some sneaky misdirection of the plot which Holly Black brings her readers through and that made the ending even more shocking. Expect a lot of political intrigue and shocking revelations!

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

All in all, I was very impressed with The Cruel Prince. Especially the ending, which was totally unexpected and I am really excited to see where Holly Black plans to take this series set in this wonderful world. I am also hopeful that there will be more twists and turns because who doesn’t love those, am I right? Okay, I was joking. Obvs.


11 thoughts on “[Review] The Cruel Prince by Holly Black”

  1. Oh, Kevin, I hope you’ll get your blogging mojo back soon :)
    I have read great reviews about The Cruel Prince so far, everyone seems to love that one and… here I am, not having read that one, any book about faeries or any book written by Holly Black, haha. I should try, though, the world building in that one sounds fascinating and so does the author’s writing :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely give this one a try if you want to read about faeries. Holly Black is quite well-versed with faerie lore and it was really interesting for me to read about them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhhhh I loved this review!!! I totally agree on the too little pagetime for Cardan ..i would have liked to see the title character a bit more. All in all, I was compelled to give this one 5 stars despite some flaws because of how much I needed to know what was going on.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am freaking out beyond belief. It is SO gorgeous …with the water and the moth, hinting at the selkies. Did you read the excerpt???? The excitement is real hahaha

        Liked by 1 person

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