Book Review, Fiction

Review: The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince Book Cover The Cruel Prince
Holly Black
Young Adult Fiction
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
January 2, 2018


"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 went into this book knowing about all the hype, but not expecting much. The fey are hot now. They’re like the new zombies or vampires. Someone claimed that the new popular thing was going to be cannibals. I hope not and don’t really see that happening. Anyway elves, fairies, pixies…

I thought I might be tiring of YA fairy tales, but no. The Cruel Prince has only added oaken logs to that fire.

It was not what I expected. As a counterpoint the human world is set in modern times and it was certainly a change to the usual fairy-tale expectations. But Holly Black had a precedent for doing this well as seen in the Spiderwick Chronicles. It did not bother me as I thought it might.

There is a rich forest atmosphere that lends itself to the magical playfulness of goblins and sprites, but also keeps it’s edgy presents. I love the idea of the Redcap general and how the different traditional fairy myths are used.

It also contains the staple of a dangerous young woman who likes weapons and pretty dresses. Nothing wrong with that, but I need to vary my reading a bit as she is the seventh such lady I’ve read about this year. But I can’t help it if that’s the type of stories I’m drawn to. (Dramatic internal struggle.)

The book portrays bullying well enough and although bullies secretly fancying their victim is a well used trope, the story still manages to twist it into something new.

Side note: Vivienne is a wonderful character in her contrast to her sisters. It’s such a good juxtaposition how she easily fits into the human world, while her human sisters struggle to fit into the fairy realm.

For a time I thought we were getting a really dark pride and prejudice, but it went a very different and delightfully twisted way. The story kept changing and surprised me again when it turned into a light spy thriller.

As you can tell I didn’t think I would be sold on it at first, but considering how much I am obsessing about it afterwards, I have to admit that it was really enjoyable and the ending was brilliant.


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