Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, and wow, wow, wow… ❤️ It absolutely lived up to the hype. While I’ve heard of Black, I haven’t read any of her books until now. (I will admit, I did pick up Tithe in 2003 — fifteen years ago! 😲 — but it didn’t catch my interest at the time. If you’re a fan of that series, be sure to check out the Barnes and Noble special edition of The Cruel Prince for a bonus story that features two fan-favorite characters!) Many readers call her the “Faerie Queen,” and her characters and worlds are widely beloved. The Cruel Prince is the first book in a new trilogy, The Folk of the Air. It will be followed by The Wicked King (expected in 2019) and The Queen of Nothing (expected in 2020).
Not sure what this book is about? You can find a short synopsis here. 🙂
What I Liked: This is tough, because I feel like I could gush about this book for hours. Where do I even start? Black’s writing is stunning, and her dialogue is just superb. There were lines that stayed with me even after I had finished the book. The world of Faerie is enchanting and mesmerizing and terrifying. As a reader, you can practically feel Jude’s fear — that constant burden she buries within herself — leaping off the page at certain points. I love that Black establishes the status quo, the different relationships between her characters, and then reveals something you weren’t expecting. The story is ripe with lies, betrayals, secrets, and unforeseen consequences, and by the end, you’ll be begging for the next installment in the series. I know I was! 😃
Back to Jude really quick. I love her darkness, and her relentless devotion to finding her place in this world she never asked to inhabit. She’s sharp and gutsy and deliciously monstrous, and she will see things through until the bloody, bitter end. I like that a lot of the relationships in the book are complicated, and we struggle through those complexities and gray areas alongside Jude. The faerie magic was fun and vivid, and the political intrigue kept me on the edge of my seat. The ending was, without saying too much, phenomenal, and that last image we’re left with… WHEW. 😵 I know 2018 just began, but can we skip ahead to 2019 so I can get my hands on The Wicked King?
What I Disliked: This isn’t exactly something I disliked, but I noticed that Cardan, the titular cruel prince, didn’t appear in the story as frequently as I expected, which was surprising. But I didn’t necessarily dislike his absence, because this is ultimately Jude’s story. Without spoiling anything, I think Cardan’s role will be greater in the subsequent books, and hopefully we will learn more about him, especially considering how much changes in Faerie from the beginning of The Cruel Prince to the cliffhanger conclusion. Oh, and I wasn’t a big fan of Taryn, pretty much all the way through. I can appreciate the fact that she’s Jude’s “mirror” — her twin who shares her likeness and yet is completely unalike in nearly every way. But her whole story line… I didn’t find myself empathizing with her or even attempting to rationalize some of her actions. I just didn’t care. 🙁 It will still be interesting to see how her story plays out in the next two books, because I’m a huge fan of character growth, and I think there’s (purposefully) great potential for her.
This is my first five-star read of the year, and I honestly can’t recommend it enough!
About the Author: Holly Black
More Books by This Author:
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie
Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
The Darkest Part of the Forest