Book review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Pages: 384

Published by: Little Brown Books for young readers

Holly Black has long been one of my favourite authors, so of course I was eagerly waiting to read The Cruel Prince.

Surprisingly (since the local library usually only has books 3+ years old), I found The Cruel Prince waiting for me on the shelf of the YA section.

Since finishing, you can be sure I am going to purchase this book for my collection. No joke guys, it’s incredible!

Quite simply, there are not enough words in the world to describe how much I loved The Cruel Prince. I’m now a massive fangirl and I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series!

The story is focused around the protagonist, Jude. A gutsy human girl who now lives in the faerie High Court after her family were tragically and brutally murdered by her now guardian, the calculating and manipulative Madoc.

It’s amazing how quickly you are completely thrust into the thick of the story of Jude’s struggle to adjust. She feels constantly out of place and inferior (as I’m sure you would too if you were surrounded by beautiful, deadly faeries). On top of this, she also feels conflicted about caring for Madoc after he has done such unspeakable things.

Her everyday life at her school is also made hellish by the constant torment from her faerie classmates. Powerful, regal and with tonnes of influence to boot, she’s picked on by pretty much the entirety of the faerie race.

One thing Holly Black is always incredible at is building a world that feels incredibly real and tangible (although it’s obviously fantasy), and The Cruel Prince is no exception. I didn’t want to leave. I’ve never really read any faerie fantasy stories before, so I was surprised by how much it intrigued and captivated me.

Jude is an extremely complex and volatile character, and I love how the relationships between her and her half faerie sister Vivi and her twin sister Taryn are depicted. Most notably, the tensions that rise amongst them.

“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”

Struggling to adjust to life in the High Court, and fed up of the ongoing malice she faces from her enemies (most notably the cruel and arrogant Cardan and his friends Nicasia, Locke and Valerian), Jude makes the bold and brave decision to get involved in some particularly dangerous spy work for a particularly dangerous and powerful member of the High Court royal family.

Seeking the power and respect she’s been denied during her life with the fae, Jude makes some decisions which cost her greatly, whilst others help her to realise the person she wants to be as well as what she’s capable of.

The Cruel Prince is a book with so many twists and turns that it will leave you breathless and completely tangled up within the pages. I literally could not put it down, and read it in just over a day. I’m currently rereading, too.

As the story progresses Jude has to traverse the betrayal, secrets and lies that are all too common a part of life in the High Court. However, it’s not just her enemies that will cause her pain, sometimes those closest to her are in on it too.

Jude really comes in to her own as a brave and plucky heroine. I cannot stress enough just how much I loved her character, she felt extremely well formed and refreshing to me.

Overall, The Cruel Prince is a book full of great character development, both in the positive and negative extremes. The character arc of Cardan in particularly really struck me. I love how you can’t clearly pin down his character at any point, and you’re always kept guessing about who he is and what he might do.

If you can’t already tell, I absolutely adored The Cruel Prince. As I previously mentioned, it’s my first ‘faerie’ fantasy read, but considering how much I enjoyed this, I’ll definitely be exploring the genre further.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if at the end of the year this is still my favourite book of 2018. I think I’ll just have to constantly reread it before the next book in the series is out.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to immerse themselves in a compelling, mysterious and dangerous fantasy world with a story that will toy with your mind at every turn.

Have you read The Cruel Prince? If so, let me know what you thought in the comments below.

My rating:

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