A world where fairies are cruel: A book review on The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Of course, I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

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 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.

I’ve always enjoyed Dark Fantasy and I regret not having read this book sooner when I bought it last year in Kinokuniya! Haha, I noticed on the front cover of THe Cruel Prince that it was recommended by Leigh Bardugo. So after I finished the Shadow and Bone trilogy, I decided to grab a copy of the books in the Folk of the Air trilogy!

As recommended by Leigh Bardugo, this book is a gem!

Filled with intrigue, murder, and betrayal, The Cruel Prince is an enchanting tale that will ensare you on the very first page. The world-building is amazing and the storytelling is so skillful that it was easy to imagine how life was like in the Shifting Isles of Elfhame. Plus, this is peppered with unexpected plot twists that will keep hooked until the very end of the book.

The story is told in first person, in the perspective of Jude, and reading about her experiences helps you to understand how she transforms into the person that she is at the very end of the book. What I particularly liked is that even though this was written in the first person, Jude was very perceptive and observant of the world around her. Instead of the novel simply narrating her thoughts, feelings, and point of view, we also get to read about the gatherings the Fey held and of the magical land that Jude and her sister were spirited away to.

Because the novel is written in first-person perspective, we have an intimate glimpse of the thoughts running inside Jude’s mind as a human living with the fey. The Cruel Prince touches on the topic of wanting to belong and Jude embodies the desperation that some people would willingly go through to ensure her safety and place within a society that rejects her.

The novel adds a bit of spice by pairing Jude with Cardan but I’m not a fan because their relationship is toxic as it is based on deception, the need to be in power, and abusive cruelty. On the other hand, Jude herself isn’t exactly a saint because of her willingness to do what it takes to have power. Yet, this is what makes the book interesting. The characters are complex and nuanced that they are all morally grey. Frankly speaking, the love story between Cardan and Jude was not what grabbed my interest. Even though the story later gave a reason behind their poor behavior towards each other, I didn’t like the message their relationship conveyed about love. For the case of Carden, he portrays that some people try to hide their love by being cruel, and to me, this is just twisted because if he truly loved Jude, then he would have never treated her or allowed his friends to treat her the way that they did in the back. As for Jude, I feel that she doesn’t love him. Instead, he was a means to an end for her.

If I have to mention a relationship that caught my attention in The Cruel Prince, I was more interested in the relationship between Jude and one of Cardan’s friends (Hahaha name hidden so as not to contain any spoilers) and it was disappointing to see that that relationship with Cardan’s friend went downhill…it was such a bummer. I’m not going to say much so as not to spoil the book but I feel that The Cruel Prince is riddled with dysfunctional relationships. Though the relationship between Cardan and Jude took a huge chunk of my review and it is what is generally brought up in conversations about The Cruel Prince, this novel is more of a fantasy novel than a romance novel.

Intrigues and politics also serve to stoke your curiosity that triggers your inner gossip. While I was reading the book, I felt like such a nosy Cathy or a Marites (Hahaha a slang that we Filipinos use for gossips)! The intrigue is so good, that I found myself actively trying to stop myself from reading the last few pages of the book just to satisfy my curiosity…it is that good!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is a highly popular and recommended book and I agree. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. However, because of the darker themes that can be found within the story and certain adult references, I think that this is best for readers that are over fifteen years old. Overall, give this book a read and you will be transported into a world where everything is magical and fairies are cruel.

Quotable Quotes

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“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.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“Let’s have a toast. To the incompetence of our enemies.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“Let’s have a toast. To the incompetence of our enemies.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“There’s always something left to lose.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“Desire is an odd thing. As soon as it’s sated, it transmutes. If we receive golden thread, we desire the golden needle.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“But I will not stand in front of your happiness. I will not even stand in front of misery that you choose for yourself.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“The odd thing about ambition is this: You can acquire it like a fever, but it is not so easy to shed.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

“Show your power by appearing powerless.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

The synopsis is from Goodreads.com

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