Review | The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Jude was seven 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.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.

“If I cannot become better than them, I will become so much worse.”

I haven’t read a faerie book in a long time. The last one that I truly remember enjoying was Tithe by Holly Black, so after months of seeing rave reviews for this series, I knew I finally had to give it a try.

The Cruel Prince captured my attention right from the beginning. Opening with the brutal murder of Jude’s parents set the tone for the series to be incredibly dark, which is exactly how I like my faery tales, and it lived up to this expectation by having the cruelty of the faeries on full display. The High Court is highly political and filled with treachery and schemes, and I loved how any missteps had serious consequences – especially for humans. That said, I would have liked to learn more about the different faery courts; I was familiar enough with the concepts because of her previous works, but anyone that is new to faery lore might be a bit lost reading this.

The characters were all incredibly well-written and compelling, even if they weren’t always the most likeable. I was surprised by how much I grew to like Madoc, the war-loving General who was responsible for the aforementioned murder, which is a testament to Holly Black’s ability to create sympathetic characters.

The protagonist, Jude, is stubborn and definitely not someone that should be underestimated. I struggled to like her at first because of her immaturity, but I enjoyed watching her navigate the complexities of the Faery Court while trying to make a place for herself in a world that is very dangerous to humans.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince, and after it’s twist-filled ending, I need to get my hands on The Wicked King as soon as possible!

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