Friday, February 16, 2018

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384
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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.

I'll be honest, I had no intention of reading The Cruel Prince. I saw all the hype, I saw the ARCs circulating, and I really didn't think I'll read it. It's not that I don't like Holly Black, I just... had no desire to read her books? But then I had an Audible credit and then everyone told me how incredible this book was and I finally gave in. Halfway through I bought the physical copy so I could read more quickly and here I am with the ARC, the B&N edition, and the Owlcrate edition on the way. What can I say?

Jude is at the center of this story. As a child, Jude is ripped out of the human world, along with her sisters, when her parents are murdered. Madoc, her older sister's biological father and her parents' murderer takes them to live in the faerie world. There she is despised by the fey for being human, and Prince Cardan is the worst of the offenders. He and his friends make Jude's life miserable, causing her to find way to gain power over them, which obviously makes her a total badass. I loved Jude so much! I sympathized with her (how could you not?) and rooted for her to gain the advantage over the fey who looked down on her. And vengeance, of course. I loved that she had suffered such a traumatic past and was still strong, choosing to make her own path instead of following the one she was placed on.

I also loved that I was never quite sure which of the characters was trustworthy. You see, although the fey cannot lie, they can certainly be deceptive, and I was kept guessing who was truly good throughout most of the book. There were some truly despicable characters that were obviously pure evil, but Cardan (the Cruel Prince?) was a mystery to me from the beginning. He's arrogant and just plain mean, but there's also something about him that made me wonder if there was more to his story. I've seen a lot of reviews with people fangirling over Cardan and going on and on about how incredible he is. I'm not quite there yet, but I can't wait to learn more about him in book two!

The story, although at times predictable, was a pretty wild ride! There was a bit of a lag during some of the world building, but I was never bored. I loved learning all about the faerie world and even found the politics intriguing. Holly Black certainly knows how to set a mood. The Cruel Prince felt both dark and magical and a little dangerous. She also knows how to deliver the twists! Like I said, some things were a little predictable, but there were also several things I didn't see coming.

The second half(?) of The Cruel Prince is where things really get dark. While the beginning is a bit slow (thank goodness I listened to the audio of that half!), things get brutal later on. I was shocked at some of the things that Jude did to protect herself, her family, and those she was loyal to. (Have I mentioned what a great character she is?) There were shocking moments, heartbreaking moments, and then it ended and I immediately wanted to grab book two.

This year has been disappointing read after disappointing read, making The Cruel Prince a breath of fresh air! It wasn't perfect, but I did love it enough to grab a few editions and put book two on my TBR! I definitely recommend The Cruel Prince if you love fantasy that's a bit dark and twisted and brutal.