fantasy · review · young adult

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

“Tell me what you dream of, Jude Duarte, if that’s your true name. Tell me what you want.”

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Blurb: “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.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I am still relatively new to Holly Black’s writing, having only read The Coldest Girl In Coldtown and the Magisterium series which she has co-written with Cassandra Clare. However, when I read the premise for The Cruel Prince I jumped at the chance to get an early copy.

The story follows Jude and her siblings who are trapped in the High Court of Faerie after their mother was killed by Madoc, the King’s general, for betraying him. Being a human in a faerie realm is a big case of bad luck as faeries are notorious for seeing mortal beings as weaker than them. Jude has had enough and decides to earn her place by competing in a tournament for a place in the High King’s Court. The princes – particularly Prince Cardan – take a prominent dislike to Jude and do everything they can to dissuade her from entering.

I am an absolute sucker for stories about faeries and I just find the concept that they can’t lie so fascinating. I love how there are countless tales of them using deception and carefully worded phrases to get around this obstacle. So it wasn’t surprising to see that human ability exploited in Jude so that the High King could improve his standing in the realm. The political plot threads had me completely hooked.

While there are a lot of princes in line for the throne, the focus quickly falls on Prince Cardan who really does live up to the title of this book; in fact, in most scenes he does well to exceed that. I found myself audibly gasping and groaning and tensing up as I never knew whether some scenes would end with Jude walking away unharmed or dead.

However, somewhere along the line my interest started to waver and I feel that Jude took too much of a drastic character development as this is the first book in a series. It felt like she’d suddenly gone from a standstill to running at the speed of light which I found a bit disorientating. I also forgot that she actually had any siblings, which I will admit annoyed me a bit. They are presented at the start as this family unit but when the attention shifts to Jude, they quickly fall to the wayside and it would have been nice to see some of their reactions to what Jude was doing.

It just seemed to fall a bit flat and the only character I found really keeping my interest was Prince Cardan who really did have so many layers to him which were slowly peeled away.

Overall, this is another story of political intrigue, faeries and deception. I just wish it had given me a bit more.

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3 thoughts on “The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

  1. Thanks for the review! I, too, am a sucker for fairies, particularly their inhuman and cruel sides. 🙂 Good to hear Cardan didn’t fall short in that department! And do let us know if you pick up the sequels!

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