- my rating: 4 stars
- published by: Little Brown Books
- genres: fantasy
- diversity: bisexual side character
- content warnings: violence, gore/blood
- will I continue this series? yes
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 Cruel Prince is a book which promised me twisty fantasy, nasty characters and some questionable shit going down. Which I definitely got … eventually. The Cruel Prince is a fun book with some really interesting characters and political intrigue but it takes so long to get going, which really let it down.
It follows Jude, a human girl kidnapped by the fae Madoc and taken to Faerie. Part one and two are vastly different, in tone and pacing and pretty much everything and I definitely enjoyed part two a whole lot more. Which is the main problem I had with this book, while part two is SO interesting and SO well constructed, part one is a whole, info-dumpy snoozefest.
Jude is the most interesting character in this book, I really enjoyed her character growth and the subtle shifts in her personality. She’s ruthless and cunning and violent and it was really interesting to follow a character like that in a Faerie setting.
One thing I really appreciated about this book was it’s strong aesthetic and atmospheric qualities. You can so easily visualise the things happening in this world and tap into it’s mood, which is something I actually really really love about fantasies. But I do think a lot more work could have been put into the general world building, as some aspects of the setting were a bit confusing.
Part two of this book is definitely where all the pay off is. While part one takes some time to set up it’s world and characters and the political situation part two is where, basically, all the shit goes down. And I really, really enjoyed it. It was gripping, interesting and pushed the characterisation of our leading characters into new and unexpected places. Holly Black was able to completely transform these characters, and my opinions on them, in half a book and she did it really well. And thats how this book ultimately won me over.
Also, this book surprised me. And I don’t get surprised that often. So if an author can do that I automatically feel better about a book overall. So while I have lots of reservations about part one, part two definitely made up for it. And it also set up the series as a whole SO NICELY which I think is a really important part of a first book too.
While I do personally feel as if this book was a tinge overhyped, I also think it’s definitely worth a read for all you dark fantasy lovers. It keeps you on your toes, gives you a main character who’s morals are questionable at best, and offers a slew of side character who are slippery, and complex. And hell, those sorts of characters are some of my favourite.
Thankyou to the publisher for providing me with an arc of this book !