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.
Wow. I don’t read much young adult anymore so whilst I expected The Cruel Prince to be good, if I’m honest, I didn’t expect it to be that great. I couldn’t have been more wrong about it. At first you might think that this is the story of young faeries and mortals at school and the strange world they live in. However, it soon becomes a masterpiece of political court intrigue with lots of backstabbing and betrayal.
The story begins in the human world. Human girls Jude and Taryn are torn from the mortal world after the brutal murder of their parents by their mother’s ex-husband. Turns out he’s a pretty powerful faerie. He’s come to seek his revenge for her running away from him with their half faerie, half-human daughter in tow. Still feeling a sense of responsibility towards his ex-wife’s other two human children, he brings all three of them back to live with him in the dangerous fae world.
Fast forward to their teenage years and we now focus on our main character Jude. Taryn and Jude try to fit in as best they can with the other faerie children. However, they’re picked on mercilessly by Prince Cardan and his group of cronies. Despite Taryn’s protests, Jude puts up a fight, which lands her in deeper and deeper trouble with this bunch of arrogant young faeries. She’s determined to make a life for herself in the faerie court but how many sacrifices is she willing to make?
First of all, this isn’t a story about an “evil” prince whose heart begins to thaw and then you realise that he’s actually just misunderstood. Sure, there is some romance in The Cruel Prince. But if you’re thinking that Jude and Cardan fall in love with each other and everything changes for the better you can extinguish those thoughts right now. Prince Cardan and his friends are dicks and whilst you might come to understand them a little better as their circumstances are revealed, they remain, for the most part, dicks. This is fundamentally the story of a race of self-interested and vain faeries, qualities that seem to rub off on all who live in their world.
The characters are all despicable and that’s exactly why I loved them. In this world of faerie glamours and magic nothing is as it seems. There are so many plot twists in the second half of this that you’ll hardly recognise the characters you met at the beginning. Sweet little Jude and Taryn, taken from their home in the mortal world, are long gone by the end of The Cruel Prince. Then there’s the faeries themselves, most of whom have very lose morals and live by their every whim.
That said, this book is by no means perfect and I was a little confused by how quickly some plot strands and characters had developed. A lot of things are rushed through but this is because there’s just so much going on in The Cruel Prince. However, this is really the only way to get to the main action without having a book of around 500 pages or more. This didn’t impact my reading experience at all because I was completely sucked into the plot and taken by Holly Black’s world. However, I know, and can understand why, a lot of other readers were bothered by this.
I have done my best to write a (cohesive/comprehensive) review of The Cruel Prince but really in my head I’m screaming *OH MY GOD JUST READ THIS BOOK*. This is definitely one of the best YA fantasies I’ve read in a while and I don’t think I even felt this excited when I reached the end of ACOTAR. Yeah, we’re talking Sarah J Maas levels of amazingness here. This book really packs a punch and takes all the characters on a journey that you never could’ve predicted from the beginning.
I don’t read many books that are part of an unfinished series anymore. I’m wary of getting sucked in and then feeling really frustrated waiting for the next book to come out. I usually lose interest during the wait! However, the second I finished The Cruel Prince I had to double check that this was part of a trilogy and that this wasn’t the end of the story. I need to get my hands on book 2 ASAP! This is not a high fantasy series to miss!
Buy The Cruel Prince by Holly Black:
*I was sent a review copy by NOVL but all opinions and fangirling are 100% my own!
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