Books · Reviews

The Cruel Prince – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

Hello, internet people πŸ™‚ It’s me. I’m not dead. I just have been posting a lot less than before. But hey, I kind of managed to finish a book despite being so swamped? So it’s not all bad!

I also feel super lucky to have been able to meet Holly Black sometime ago ❀ ❀ ❀ She was absolutely lovely and just so funny and charming (not to mention her hair rocks, too!) that I would have felt terrible if I hadn’t like her book. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case but I still didn’t love it as much as everyone else seemed to…

Let’s see what went right and what went wrong, shall we?


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synopsis17

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.

first-impressions

All the hype surrounding this book really made me fearful to read it. I felt it would either be a big flop or the best freaking thing ever. None of those statements is true and I guess I don’t quite know how I truly feel about it yet? So this is going to be a mixed review, that’s for sure.

the-sweet

I really liked how Black wasn’t afraid to really push the boundaries with her characters. None of them are particularly likable or redeemable, and this is especially true for the protagonists, which is my favourite part of the book. There were times when Jude was noble and selfless, but Taryn certainly wasn’t. Cardan was absolutely despicable for most of the story and his cronies weren’t far off. It literally felt like everyone had something to hide, some darker part of themselves that made them a potential villain. And I loved it.

The world building was also very interesting and intricate. It wasn’t wholly original but what is nowadays, really? I think what matters is how you manipulate it to fit your purposes, and that Black did very well.

Apparently, the Faerie world is a pretty vast one and tons of her books take place within it. That’s something that was really cool to learn about. I think if you go into one of her earlier series, it will sound a lot more underdeveloped and mysterious. With this book in particular, I felt everything was pretty much established and mastered in a way that felt effortless for both author and reader to navigate.

There was a lot of tension and uncertainty. I was never sure if a character would suddenly die or be killed or hurt in any way. Literally no one was safe, and that really made things interesting for me. The twists were also pretty great and not something I even considered. Not that I’m the biggest expert on unexpected turns but, you know, it’s nice to be surprised.

Even though it took me some time to warm up to The Cruel Prince, after the actual plot kick-started it became a way more enjoyable read. I was looking forward to what was going to happen next and excited to find out more.

the-bitter

This book certainly didn’t suck me in right away. It was very hard for me to focus on it and get invested, especially with a premise like “loving your parents’ murderer and your own captor”. It was a bit too Stockholm Syndrome-y for me and I didn’t care much for it.Β 

Despite enjoying the writing for the most part, the few moments during which Jude breaks the forth wall and addresses the reader as though she’s telling her story to someone else were disconcerting and broke the focus for me. They came out of nowhere and only happened in the beginning, so I can only assume the author either forgot about or decided to forsake that style later on. Still, I wasn’t a fan and felt it was both inconsistent and disruptive.

I also had a hard time with the pacing on several occasions, which contributed to my taking so long to finish it.

The romance. Or whatever you want to call it. I mean, why? I completely despise the “falling for your bully” trope and this book was full to the brim with it. Not only did it exist, but it made no sense whatsoever. It was shallow, didn’t have any sort of believable build-up, made no sort of effort to win the reader over, and contributed nothing to the storyline. In fact, the whole thing would have been so much better without it. In my opinion.

It was also a bit hard to stomach all the bullying going around, even though I understand it was an important part of the plot and really raised the stakes, establishing the characters’ personalities and how far they were willing to go. Still, trigger warning to anyone who’s ever been bullied and plans to read this.

final-thoughts

The Cruel Prince was a solid effort on Black’s part. It was dark enough that it set itself apart from the young adult fantasy genre but not so much that it fell on a completely different category. Would I have liked for it to have done so? Maybe. But I was still satisfied with it.

I wasn’t a fan of a ton of things, like the romance, the inconsistent style, and the fact that it took me way too long to start enjoying it. And even then, I got bored at times and didn’t feel like picking it up.

On the other hand, I very much appreciated the overall tone, unlikable and fleshed out characters, cool world-building and unexpected twists. I was more or less invested for the bigger part of it and that’s what matters.

It wasn’t the most memorable of books but it did make me curious about the sequel, which I’m definitely picking up as soon as it comes out. Despite not becoming a favourite of mine (like I was fervently hoping it would, based on everyone’s feedback), I will certainly be trying more from Holly Black in the future.

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Thank you so much for reading and until next time!

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Hope you guys enjoyed this review! Have you read The Cruel Prince yet? Or any other Holly Black book? Let me know! q^β€Ώ^ q

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67 thoughts on “The Cruel Prince – Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

  1. Excellent review, Sophie. You touched on a lot of points without giving anything away. I can see why it was a hard review with some elements that were highly enjoyable and others that were a disappointment. I’ll have to think about this one. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Diana! Yeah, pretty difficult to rate this one especially since after finishing it, I wasn’t really sure how it made me feel… It’s one of those books, I guess.
      I was highly impressed by some of it, the ending in particular I thought was well done. But it felt a bit all over the place, thus the not so great rating. Oh well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sophie I’m happy you liked it! Of course if you don’t like fall for your bully trop you would have a problem. Yet Jude is not completely smitten with Cardan… yet πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sophie! πŸ’• Hmm yeah I really don’t like it at all but I think what bothered me the most was her relationship with Locke, not with Cardan per se. You may say “but Locke wasn’t bad” yet he never actually stepped in to stop Cardan or the others nor did he try to help Jude and Taryn. He was complicit, so he was just as bad.
      I actually like Cardan’s character a lot but would have preferred if there hadn’t been anything going on between them (yes, not even a kiss). It kind of spoiled it for me because I don’t think he’s love interest material at all. He should stay as the villain and that’s it.
      I’m actually excited to see what he does now that he’s king. From the sequel’s title, it appears he’ll be just as evil, which is quite interesting.
      Excuse the babble πŸ˜‚ But what are your thoughts on it?

      Like

  3. Fantastic review, Sophie! I have this book sitting in my TBR pile, and I am also skeptical about all the hype it received. Your very honest and spoiler-free review gives this book clarity that I feel is necessary.

    Thanks, as always, for such a great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks so much, Aubrey! That’s so nice of you πŸ’•πŸ’•
      I tried my best to keep it simple and to the point and since there weren’t a lot of strong feelings involved while reading this it was an easy enough task.
      I kept seeing a lot of people raving about this book and I honestly was keeping my fingers crossed they’d be right. But unfortunately that didn’t happen. I tried but this book is actually pretty average with some cool bits in between.
      I really hope you love it once you read it, though πŸ™‚ And I look forward to reading your thoughts on it!

      Like

    1. Thank you, Kay! Ah yeah, same here… I actually really dig the ending and wish the whole people had been just as cool! Alas, it fell a bit short for me but I’m glad it still managed to interest me enough to continue on with the story πŸ™‚
      Happy to hear we share the same opinion ❀️❀️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This one definitely had some flaws and some crappy side characters. (Like Jude’s sister. You would’ve thought she would have been a more interesting character, as she was the protagonist’s twin, no?) Overall, I did enjoy it though. I think part of what really grabbed me was the world the story was set in. I’m a sucker for faerie worlds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, Taryn was soooo bland and annoying. I kept hoping she would grow a backbone but noooo. And Jude put up with so much shit for her… And because of her… She really deserved better.
      I agree, it was still quite an interesting read and most of that had to do with the world building. I adore faeries as well!
      Hopefully the sequel will make up for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I read this book recently and it was the first Holly Black book I have read. Overall I quite enjoyed it ( I am a sucker for Fae and dark characters) however I agree and struggled with the pacing and the way in which Jude was telling her story was inconsistent. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mine too! I’m not sure whether I’ll find her earlier work more or less enjoyable but she’s one author I’ll keep an eye out for (especially because she’s so nice, I love nice authors and it pains me to have to critique this book!!!).
      Same here, faeries are my absolute jam. But alas, they weren’t enough to make this a five star read.
      Thank you so much! ❀️❀️

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The hype is what made me want to check out the book as a library book. I usually am against stuff that is hyped up. (Twilight, Fault in our Stars, ACOTAR, etc.)
    I was sooooo happy when my library had the actual hard back because I can check it out in a regular book format instead of an ebook for once. The hold list for the ebook almost had 100 people on it. I’m about to start on it in the next day or so. I have an eARC to read as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that is insane! I had no idea people were able to wait that long for a book before losing their minds πŸ˜‚
      I think if you go in with low/reasonable expectations you’ll be fine. In my opinion, this was way too overhyped and that’s what caused most of my disappointment.
      I liked that it was darker than the usual Ya fantasy but it lacked in other aspects.
      I really hope you enjoy it! I look forward to reading your review if you plan on writing one 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like this was a real mixed-feelings one! I’ve certainly seen this book around a lot so I can see why you came to it worried by the hype. After reading your review I don’t think this book sounds like it’s for me (I’m not so into faerie court settings, and it just doesn’t sound quite unique, stand-out or gripping enough to tempt me in spite of that… also I think some of the inconsistencies you mentioned would irk me) but I enjoyed reading your thoughts on it – very well-written review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very much so! Though I really should have expected it because I rarely enjoy hyped up books… Sigh.
      If those are big peeves for you then you’re better off not reading this, for sure. It really is a very average read, probably more aimed at fans than anything else. It was enjoyable, but it didn’t blow me away.
      Thank you so much, Nicola! Your input is always much appreciated and makes my day ❀️❀️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well I can understand wanting to believe the hype anyway – when I pick up a book everyone’s raving about I always hope it will become an all-time favourite, even though I know that’s setting expectations too high because few actually make it onto my favourites shelf… I just can’t help it!
        Ah that makes sense fans are keen – I haven’t actually read anything by this author, though now I look her up I see a LOT of titles and book covers I recognise. Have you read any other books of hers?
        You’re very welcome, thanks for the kind words πŸ™‚ I always enjoy your reviews and find them thought-provoking!

        Like

        1. Yeah, same here really! I guess we just like to dig our own graves πŸ˜‚
          This is my first one of hers but I’ve been hearing about her for forever. She has a really large fan base and I admit I kind of see why. It’s an alluring world with interesting enough stories. I just wish they were even better.
          Thank you again, Nicola! ❀️❀️

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review!
    My main issue with this book was that ‘romance trope’ that is being warmed up and the pacing. The ending did redeem much of the book for me as it was definitely good.
    I am hesitant to consider reading book 2 because of that romance thing though- I don’t think I could ever see sense in that and I’m afraid this is where it’s going to go, so I shall sit back and await for the reviews from early readers πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Liz!
      Aahh yeah… It was the biggest peeve for me, actually. I don’t get the romance, it feels flat and forced and straight out weird. Would have liked if things had been left well alone.
      I feel the same way, the ending was pretty awesome and I would have loved if the whole book had followed a similar path.
      That’s mostly why I’m so curious to check out The Wicked King. Because I need to know if it gets better and what the author will come up with next!
      I hope I can be one of those early reviewers πŸ˜‰ We’ll see!

      Like

  9. Great review for this book Sophie, I’m glad you enjoyed it but sorry it didn’t quite live up to the hype. I guess there’s always a danger of that happening with hyped books right? I am glad this didn’t put you off Holly Black’s other books. I read her Modern Faerie Tales series first and fell in love with her writing so I was so pleased when I saw she was releasing another book.
    The world building in The Cruel Prince was one of my favourite aspects of the book, there’s so much detail in the world Black created, and yeah I loved that none of the characters seemed to be black and white, there was a lot of grey and no one really seemed to be what they seemed either.
    I hope you enjoy the next book in this series, after the ending to this one I can’t wait to get my hands on The Wicked King. πŸ™‚
    Again great review. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Beth 😊❀️ Hmm yeah that’s always going to be an enigma and in a way its kind of fun to find out which ones are worth it and which ones are not πŸ˜›
      I’m not too familiar with her work but I do see everyone recommending her from time to time so I was very curious! I have to try that one then πŸ™‚
      So glad to hear we both loved those! I just wish the rest of the book had been as amazing.
      Thank you again, and yeah absolutely! Will be waiting for The Wicked King πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right, and I actually ended up being surprised by some of the characters. Not so much Jude but the others around her who didn’t end up being what I thought they would be. πŸ™‚
        Her other books are good, but it’s been a while since I read them so it’s possible my opinions may have changed. πŸ™‚
        That’s all right, I have a feel it’s going to be amazing! πŸ™‚ ❀️

        Like

        1. Me too! I was expecting the usual fantasy/faerie stereotypes but they were quite unpredictable, especially at the end. I had NO idea any of that was going to happen and I’m sure I’m not alone hahaha
          (Well done, Mrs. Black!)
          I’ll give them a go when I get the time. This one really spiked my interest and I want to see what else she can come up with πŸ™‚
          Yeah, let’s hope so!! ❀

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Another great review! It’s great to hear that there were twists and unexpected turns here. I like when authors keep the readers on their toes. But, it’s too bad that it was hard to stay focused while reading. It’s really hard to truly enjoy something if your attention isn’t 100% there.

    I’m also not a fan of “falling for your bully”. I think it sends the wrong message and could be problematic for impressionable young adults.

    In the end, I’m glad that you were still able to enjoy certain aspects of the book, but I’m not sure if I’ll be adding this to my TBR.

    Thank you again for such a thoughtful review! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Heidi! Yeah I was really impressed with the overall plan the author traced around the intrigue.
      I have to admit it might have been a personal issue and not the book itself. Sometimes you’re just not in the mood. But I think a great book will suck you in no matter what, which wasn’t the case…
      I agree, and not only that it just sounds utterly ridiculous and a complete disregard for someone’s personal self-esteem and safety. Just, no.
      I hope you enjoy it when you get to it! Certainly more than I did.
      Thank you so much for the kind words ❀️

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a great review, although it’s sad that it took so long to finally get to a point to enjoy the book. I saw the book on so many blogs, but when a book is hyped I stay away from it because more often than not I get disappointed by it when I read it and I feel like maybe I was missing something since every other blogger and their mother loved the book. But that’s why mixed reviews like yours tell me I am not alone and I might pick up the book because I like Black’s style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was so disheartening and frustrating and really made me not want to pick it up as much. The only reason I was able to finish it was because I picked up the audiobook and listened to it nonstop while doing other stuff. Otherwise I just wouldn’t have had the desire to sit down and just read it.
      I think that’s a very smart choice and I usually do the same, but this time I decided to take the risk. Oh well!
      I’m glad this helped with your decision, Andreea 😊 I think the writing was nice but needed a different approach, maybe. Though like I said I’ll be willing to try more from her.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Love your detail review Sophie! I will have to come back to read your review again. I just won this book on Twitter and can’t wait to read it. Sorry you didn’t like the romance. That’s an important part in a YA book for me too and if not liking it, the book will be harder to give attention to. Will you still plan on reading book 2? I love the cover of book 2 as well as the cover of this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Jasmine! Ah that’s so cool, you’ve been really lucky then 😊 I love winning books hahaha
      Yeah I mean the book doesn’t focus on romance all that much but it’s still a big part of it. There’s a lot more going on, which is nice. But yeah, I wasn’t a fan personally though tons of people ship it!
      I’ll definitely be reading the sequel once it comes out πŸ™‚ I’m intrigued! And the covers sure are beautiful 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Man. I have been on the fence about reading this one. It sounds like there are some amazing things to love about this book, but I think that the trope of falling for the bully is not for me. I’m not afraid to read a hyped up book, but I have too many to read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I understand you completely. I’m glad it wasn’t terrible but it sure deflated my enthusiasm quite a bit.
      That’s our biggest problem isn’t it? Too many books, not enough time for them! πŸ˜₯
      Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts with me! 😊❀️

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m happy your review is in shades of grey– bookworms either really love or hate it with a feverish passion, it seems. I’m still wary to go again in faerie territory after Wintersong, and I’m not sure I’d ever be ready but I’m intrigued. Thank you for your review!

    Like

    1. Not me! I usually seem to be in between… Don’t know if it’s good or bad? Oh well.
      I’ve not read Wintersong yet… Was it too terrible? Or just too perfect?
      I think you’d do well to give it a try if you can get your hands on a library copy or something πŸ™‚ The world is really well done!
      Thank you so much for reading, Morgane ❀

      Like

      1. It can be a good thing to be in between! Those reviews are helpful when you tried to figure out if it’s something you’d like to read or not.

        I loved, maybe not / loved /, the first act of Wintersong, then it feels like sewn in the middle with a totally different story which is extremely bizarre.

        I’m all for great world-building, so we’ll see. 😊

        Like

        1. I’m glad that’s the case here! I always wonder whether my reviews will be helpful or not, because I don’t even know how to properly express myself in the majority of them ^^’
          I’m curious about Wintersong… Will have to give it a try! I hope you enjoy this one ❀

          Liked by 1 person

  15. This is such an interesting review – one of the only ones I’ve read that isn’t 100% positive. People LOVE this book! I haven’t read it – I’ve never read any of Black’s books, actually. I have found in the past that I’ve had difficulty getting into the whole ‘faerie’ thing. I don’t know what it is, but something about it doesn’t capture my imagination in the way that I’d like it to. That said, I am on the fence about trying this one. There are a lot of aspects of it – the darkness mostly, haha – that appeal to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear you’ve enjoyed it, Lydia! ^_^ (And that it’s kind of unique hahaha)
      I actually love faeries and the like and I think this book did a good job with that. Yet it didn’t really awe me, not like it seemed to do with everyone else. Maybe it’s just me!
      It is quite dark for a YA book, I’ll give it that. So if you’d like to give it a go, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! πŸ™‚

      Like

  16. I am glad you could meet Holly Black and really enjoy getting to meet her. She’s really cool. I also really want to try this one. The world building sounds epic and I like that the characters are so strong and well done. I haven’t really read too many books with the falling for the bully kind of thing. I mean, I do love enemies to lovers but it can’t be someone who was a very terrible enemy because forgiving a whole lot of atrocies is not easy. Let alone finding love there… It’s interesting that the narrator breaks the fourth wall. I have seen that in movies (like Deadpool) but not so much in books before…

    Like

    1. Yeah, she was so lovely and funny and just made me want to read all her books xD
      I love the enemies to lovers trope, definitely, so long as there’s no actual abuse involved. And it should come from both sides, not just one. I love the whole banter thing hahaha
      That’s not what this one is, at all. There’s real bullying involved and it was frankly hard to stomach. I don’t understand how people can ship it. It’s nothing but toxic. I do like the bully as a character, but never as a love interest for the protagonist. It’s so unhealthy and I don’t see it happening at all.
      The author herself said he’s terrible and not quite redeemable, so I mean, she’s the one who created him – she should know xD
      But I don’t want to spoil it, so you should definitely read it and judge for yourself whether it’s a possibility or not πŸ™‚
      I don’t mind the breaking of the forth wall at all, I find it really interesting (LOVE Deadpool btw <3) but it has to be consistent throughout and it definitely wasn't here. I actually forgot about it and then suddenly it would present itself and I would be completely taken aback hahaha Not cool, and very distracting in my opinion.
      I did encounter it in books before, especially when they're in diary form. I used to read a lot of contemporaries and chick lit and so it was very common. I think I grew tired of it maybe xD

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Couldn’t agree more with your assessment. I liked the book, but it took a bit of getting into for me and it did have definite issues!

    Like

  18. Awesome review. ❀️ You pointed out the moments where the author walked the line. Having us the reader decide for ourselves how we felt about each character. And yes, they were flawed. Didn’t like Cardan and Jude together at all. It will be interesting where she takes Cardan next.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Dani! ❀
      I always try to let everyone to decide for themselves – it's not my job to influence them, just present the facts and share my own opinion πŸ™‚
      They made no sense to me whatsoever. I don't even understand why the author added any romance between them. But I do have tons of fun with the Incorrect The Cruel King quotes on Twitter though x'D
      I definitely look forward to the sequel, even if this one didn't quite live up to the hype. It should be here soon!

      Like

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