The Cruel Prince

(The Folk of the Air #1, By: Holly Black)


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 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.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.

Published January 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


I gave this book 4 stars. While it took me a minute to feel invested in the world and the characters, once I was in, I was all in. I ended up really enjoying the lush fantasy world that Black brought to life, along with her interesting character arcs.

I'll start with my biggest struggle - the voice of Jude in this book read very young to me for a YA series. From the beginning, I had a hard time connecting to her as a YA character, and felt that her and her peers behaved much more like middle grade characters. Vivi, Jude's older sister seemed like the true YA character, but little of the book was focused on her. As the book progressed (into the second half) the characters started developing quicker and I ended up feeling like Jude aged a decent amount, but still just into her early teens based on her behavior and choices. While the issues were that of a YA book (marriage, death, sex, etc.) the characters just didn't quite get there for me. 

That being said, Jude was still a fiery character who was fun to read about. Her rash, bold decisions were increasingly risky and entertaining. The plot did a great job of increasing the stakes for Jude, making me worried for her and interested in how everything would end up. Additionally, I loved her wit and her willingness to go against the expectations that her family and her world set for her. Cardan was a layered villian, and reminded me of Rhysand in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. He was easy to hate, but had depth that made him approachable and intriguing. 

Outside of the characters, I found myself incredibly invested in the outcome of this book and the world in which it was set. Faerie is dense and full of spectacular wonder which was fun to read about. I also appreciated that the main character was a human living in this world because it allowed me to imagine what it would have been like for me to be there, living amongst the Fae. 

While I would have liked the characters to behave a bit more wise for a YA book, I still burned through this story and appreciated much of what it had to offer. I can't wait to read the second book (The Wicked King) which is set to be published in January of 2019.





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