THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black – Review

THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black – ReviewThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on January 2 2018
Genres: Young adult, Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: Finished hardcover
Source: Purchased
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The nitty-gritty: A dangerous and thrilling tale that grips the reader from the first page and never lets up.

If one thing is certain, you can usually count on seasoned and experienced writers to deliver a great story, and I’m happy to report, like so many other reviewers, that The Cruel Prince is a winner. This is my first Holly Black book and now I can’t wait to go back and read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, since I have a copy that’s been gathering dust for several years. I’m also proud of myself for actually reading and reviewing a NON REVIEW BOOK. That’s right, folks. I purchased my copy of The Cruel Prince with cold, hard cash. Let this be the start of a new trend here on the blog!

Just a short recap since you may already be familiar with the story. Jude and Taryn are twin humans who were stolen away as children and taken to live in the land of Elfhame, along with older sister and half-fey Vivienne, and their little brother Oak. Since that violent day—their parents were slaughtered right in front of them by a Vivienne’s father, a fey named Madoc—the children have been living among the Folk and have mostly forgotten about their past lives in the human world. Jude wants nothing more than to be accepted by the Folk, and longs to become a knight in the Royal Court. Taryn’s dream is to fall in love with and marry a fey. But neither dream seems attainable, as Jude and Taryn are complete outsiders, no matter how hard they try to fit in. The fey princes of the royal family in particular are out to get them, and because Jude isn’t interested in backing down from their threats, she winds up with injuries from their bullying almost on a daily basis.

But big change is on the horizon. The old High King is about to step down, and a new king is set to be crowned. But who will the new king be? Alliances, secrets, betrayal and lies all come together, and nothing in Elfhame will ever be the same again.

I flew through this book and didn’t take any notes, so I may not remember all the things I wanted to talk about. But I do want to mention why I loved this book so much. Holly Black can spin a damn tale, people! She pulled me in from the very first page, and the story only continued to get better. You won’t find any gossamer-winged, dainty fairies here. These are hard-core fey who are NOTHING like humans at all. In fact they find most things about humans disgusting or perplexing or simply boring. Because Jude and her sisters live in the land of Elfhame, most of the story takes place there (except for a couple of quick jaunts into the mortal world), and so we get lots of interactions between the fey and humans. One of my favorite scenes (and seriously, I had so many “favorites” that we’d be here all day if I mentioned them all!) was during a banquet when Jude realizes that the delicious-looking food she’s been eating has been glamoured, and in reality it’s rotten and crawling with maggots. Jude is no stranger to the Folk’s ability to glamour their surroundings—and themselves-—but that was the first time it hit me how different the Folk are from humans, how utterly terrifying and alien them seem to be.

Holly Black is not only a master at plot and pacing, but she definitely knows how to develop her characters and the relationships among them. I honestly did not know how things were going to turn out, and I suspected there would be romance involved, but it didn’t go the way I thought it would. When we first meet Prince Cardan, he is cruel beyond belief. He torments and yes, even tortures Jude and Taryn, and so I immediately wrote him off as a possible love interest. But. Then he changed a bit, and we also got a glimpse into the reasons he’s so cruel, and believe it or not, I started to like the guy. Now it’s not all sunshine and roses with him, but he has so many layers that I can’t help but wonder what else we’ll learn about him in the next book.

Some shocking things happen around the two-thirds mark in the story, things that change the course of most of the characters’ lives, but Black isn’t even close to being finished. She takes whatever expectations you may have had and turns them upside down. My mouth was literally hanging open at the end of the story, and I can’t believe how long we’re going to have to wait for the next book!

If you haven’t read The Cruel Prince yet, I recommend you find a copy as soon as possible. This is definitely going to turn out to be one of the best YA books of 2018.


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Posted January 12, 2018 by Tammy in 4 1/2 stars, Reviews / 31 Comments


31 responses to “THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black – Review

  1. Man, what a great review and now, how can I pass this up? I am trying to use my library more often this year so I’m definitely putting myself on the wait list for this one. I don’t know why but I had it in my mind that this was going to be a YA Twilight-like book but with fey. Totally my own misconception because no one led me to believe that. Glad it sounds so dark and gritty!
    Barb (boxermommyreads) recently posted…Not Sure I Knew What This Was About…Blood Sisters ReviewMy Profile

  2. Ok, I’m totally drawn in – hook, line and sinker 🙂
    This book already caught my attention, since the theme of the fae’s cruelty is one that piqued my interest with McGuire’s Octobe Daye series, but reading your review I’m convinced that I can’t let this book wait too long – either on my “wanted” list or my reading queue…
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Maddalena@spaceandsorcery recently posted…Short Story Review: TRAVELERS, by Rich LarsonMy Profile

  3. Nice to read so high recs about this book 🙂

    I have only read books by Holly Black where she has been a co-author so time try out what her own writing is like! 🙂

  4. The fact that you couldn’t put this down to take notes is a good sign lol. Glad you loved this! I haven’t read it yet, but I did love Coldest Girl, so I’ll prob like this too. I love the idea of the fae being so alien and non-human. the character development and unpredictability sound great too! Can’t wait to try this one!
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Update: Life and Books (1/14/18)My Profile

    • Tammy

      I can’t wait to go back and read Coldtown now! I really love Holly Black’s style, and I’m going to check out her other books as well.

    • Tammy

      I’m really curious to read White Cat, it’s a series, right? I’m definitely going to be reading more of her books:-)

  5. I am always intrigued by Fae books so this was already was on my radar but I had heard very mixed things about Holly Balck’s books so I was reluctant to pick it up but now I will be putting this on my wishlist! Popular YA books tends to be Kindle deals pretty often so I might be able to snatch it up quite soon haha.
    And congrats for reading non-review books, it is not always easy to make time for them! 😉

  6. These fairies sound crazy! I also heard great things about this book and also this author, and I’m glad that you ended up enjoying it so much. Got to admit that reading and reviewing a non-review book will have to be something I’m going to have to start doing again too! Hahahah Great review as always Tammy!

    • Tammy

      I’m going to be reading more non review books this year (I NEVER have time for them!) so this was a great one to start with. I highly recommend it!

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