Why I Loved The Cruel Prince

January 20, 2018 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 5 stars, Books, Reviews

Why I Loved The Cruel PrinceThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Published by Hot Key Books, Allen and Unwin on January 2nd 2018
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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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.

The more I think about The Cruel Prince, the more I love it. Despite being a fae book with political intrigue and morally grey characters, I found it so relatable. It captured so many emotions and themes, some that hit really close to home. Here’s some reasons why I loved it:

1. Jude is one badass anti-hero

As a human who doesn’t fit in with the rest of the faerie folk, who is viewed as ‘lesser’ because of her lack of powers and heritage, Jude is already off to a rough start. She doesn’t fit in with her peers and the other faerie folk, she doesn’t have the same abilities that they do, and is treated as an inferior plaything by the rest of the fae. Not only does she need to learn to fit in with the fae and their endless games, but she wants to be viewed as their equal.

Some people would let the bullying get to them, but Jude uses the fear, ridicule and cruel treatment from the fae as motivation to not only defend herself against them, but to best them one day as well. You might be wondering how a human could even think of achieving this, but Jude is incredibly cunning, resourceful, and kind of ruthless herself as well. It’s pretty incredible to see Jude’s story unfolding down to its brutal, bloody gloriousness at the end.

2. Terrifying faerie folk

Most books about faeries often romanticise them, but in The Cruel Prince, they’re incredibly dangerous. Imagine how scary it would be to be completely at the mercy of the fae surrounding you, who could enchant you to do their bidding at every turn. While they are glamourous, beautiful creatures who enjoy dancing and drinking, the magic and power that they possess could pretty much enslave a human. From Jude’s stepfather Madoc, to the terrible Prince Cardan in an abusive living situation, to the royal Prince Dain who takes Jude under his wing, each and every one of these characters cannot be trusted at face value. There’s never knowing who they are, and what they want, and that makes them incredibly treacherous. The Cruel Prince captures how terrifying it could be living amongst them, as an inferior human.

3. Morally grey characters

Every character in The Cruel Prince felt multi-dimensional, with their own fears, motivations and goals. While it’s obvious what Jude wants to achieve as she integrates herself into the political intrigue of the fae, constantly leveraging her own position, it’s the other characters that we can’t predict.

I thought Jude’s stepfather Madoc presented an interesting conflict, a fae who is renowned for his ruthless, bloody reputation. He’s murdered her parents, but he’s also chosen to take her and her sisters under his wing, because they didn’t have anyone else. While it’s clear that Jude doesn’t think too highly of him, often making excuses for his behaviour like that’s just the way he is, he can’t help himself, his motivations were never clear cut. And that’s what made him even more fascinating.

4. Political intrigue

There’s even more treachery and backstabbing in the fae courts in the struggle to become one of the monarchs of the Faerieland. I loved reading about the different courts and how each ruler had their own machinations into the faerie court. The fae are incredibly unpredictable which lead to many twists and turns in the story which I didn’t see coming.

5. Romance doesn’t take over the story

I know people are divided about the romance in the book, but I was personally living for the hate to love romance and all the feisty scenes between the two leads. What I was really fond of, was how the romance didn’t take over the story. It just fuelled the fire for Jude to best the fae further.

I know it’s only the start of 2018, but The Cruel Prince is already one of my favourite books of the year. Although it’s a faerie fantasy, it strangely parallels my own life: moving to a new place, being inferior to everyone, trying to fit in, standing up to bullies and dedicating everything you have to besting them. The Cruel Prince is a twisty, complex and incredibly empowering book that reflects today’s social constructs.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me this review copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Cruel Prince is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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36 responses to “Why I Loved The Cruel Prince

  1. I swear to god everyone loves this book! I mean, I do like the sound of pretty much everything you mentioned in your review so I MIGHT become one of those people. But there is a tiny part of me that’s scared of the hype now *hides*

    I really like the sound of the cunning fae. I love it when they’re not all sappy and human-obsessed. Also, a hate to love romance? Let’s be honest, I live for that, haha.

    It’s awesome that you were able to relate to this one even though it’s a fantasy, Jeann! Lovely review <3
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  2. I just finished reading this one last week and posted a review last night! (Now I am on to Gemina – which is fantastic so far!!)

    I really loved this one and agree with your review, mainly because Jude was the most excellent character ever. I loved how intense she was, and I am quite excited about the next installment now.

    Cardan is an utter lunatic, but I am looking forward to seeing how things develop between him and Jude in the next novel. I can’t say I liked him much in this one, but that was okay, because Jude didn’t like him much either 🙂

  3. There is so much hype around the cruel prince right now that it made me ecstatic to read it! BUT! I remember Wintersong which is set in a faerie kingdom too, that I didn’t like, then BAM! I don’t know anymore if I’m ready for another trip in faerie territory.

  4. I am seriously the only person in the history of reading who did not love this book. Idk what is wrong with me, but perhaps no one should ever trust my opinions again? I would understand hah. The thing is, I don’t even know *why* I didn’t like it, I just felt really bored and disconnected, so clearly, it is a case of it being ME and not the book. I am really glad you loved it though, and YAY that it’s already going to be a top book of the year, that is awesome!! Great review!!
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  5. Ever fantasy I read last year fell flat.
    Every. one. (Except for one fantasy series, but the author wasn’t a debut author.)
    I rated most of the fantasy I read between 2-3.5 stars. NOTHING was working for me.
    So I’m very happy that I started my year with something so entertaining and intriguing. Thank goodness!

    I did read Everless before The Cruel Prince but I ended up DNFing that one… it almost put me in a reading slump.

  6. Mai

    I want to read this book so bad, but where I live the libraries don’t have many books in English, much less new books like this…. I’m currently stuck reading all the reviews about it :’D

  7. The Cruel Prince definitely intrigues me because I do like stories about faerie folk and I have recently finished An Enchantment of Ravens, which I found rather lacklustre. I’ve never read any of Holly Black’s books so here’s to hoping that I will enjoy The Cruel Prince when I get the chance to read it. Great review, by the way, Jeann! Warm hugs from Malaysia! <3

  8. You are the second blogger this week to point out how amazing The Cruel Prince is. And truly, Holly Black does write amazing characters, so now I just want to get this book myself so I can read it. Like, right now.
    Antiheroes are the best – especially if you can still enjoy them, so that’s just another point in favor of this one.
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  9. I’m so, so happy you loved The Cruel Prince so much, Jeann! If I’m being honest, I never read a book by this author and wasn’t too sure about adding the book to my TBR, as it falls out a little bit out of my comfort zone. But I do want to try it out someday, because your review made it sound so incredible, I love complex and morally grey characters so, SO much in my stories and the world sounds quite captivating 🙂
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    • Actually now that I think about it, I’ve got a lot of her books on my shelf but I haven’t read them either. BUT NOW I WILL because I can’t wait to read them omg. This is just such an amazing book, one of my favourites for sure!

  10. So I literally JUST FINISHED and opened my laptop and there was this post. JEANN. I’M SCREAMING. IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD MY HEAD IS SPINNING. Like ajfdksald Jude what have you done and I think the romance was excellent (like I don’t even know what it was half the time haha) and I have such such interest in Cardan that I feel bad. But also…he’s so sad?! BUT JUDE. And the world and stabbiness!!! Afjskadlfd.

    *goes to sit down because is overwhelmed with feelings*
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