Hello, internet people 🙂 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?
- Title: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
- Author: Holly Black
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication Date: January 2nd, 2018
- Page Count: 384
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time!