“Sharpen your blade. Harden your heart.”
Although I finished this book nearly a month ago, I wanted to take some time to collect my thoughts before writing this review.
While processing all the necessary emotions that go along with finishing a book you thoroughly enjoyed, I came upon a surprising conclusion: This was my favorite book I’ve read this year…… so far.
I know, I know… that’s saying a lot. But it truly is. I had high hopes going into ‘The Cruel Prince,’ especially after some of the reviews I read, but I can honestly say, this is one of those beautiful, mystical moments where a book actually lives up to your expectations. Or at least mine.
Therefore, I give it a 5/5 stars. Why you ask? Well, let’s get into that….. (As always, I will do my absolute best to remain spoiler-free)
‘The Cruel Prince’ follows main character Jude, a human girl who is brought to live in the faerie world along with her twin sister, Taryn and her half-sister, Vivienne following a tragic family event.
In Holly Black’s faerie world, let’s just mention that humans are not treated kindly. Most are turned into servants, however the family that has taken the girls in are of high class, in turn giving them a tiny amount of protection. But not enough to stop the bullying from their faerie classmates.
In most YA or NA fantasy series, faeries are portrayed as whimsical and sometimes mischievous with senses of humor and at least flashes of a somewhat kind nature toward humans. Sure, some of them have their evil moments, but not like in this book. In ‘The Cruel Prince,’ most of the faeries are just downright mean. Especially the youngest son of the high king, Carden.
Carden lives to make Jude’s life miserable. And Jude doesn’t back down. She gives it right back to him. Much to her twin sister Taryn’s dismay.
I love Jude’s character. Jude stands up for herself. She stubborn and impulsive, but she’s also strong and compassionate about others, one time almost putting herself in harm’s way to help another. I love Jude’s character almost as much as I dislike Taryn’s character. These two could not be more different. I found Taryn’s character to be weak, kind of annoying and in the end, even more of a disappointment. I just found her to be terribly unlikable.
The faeries however, while they are quite mean, were very entertaining. They keep the book interesting and moving forward, especially as you learn more about each one and why they are the way they are.
Carden may actually be my favorite character in this book. He is not shown in a particularly good light, but learning more about his back story and seeing his character develop was really fun for me. I just see something more in his character than what is currently brought to view. And I can’t wait to see where the dynamic with he and Jude goes in ‘The Wicked King. Even through the hatred these two have for one another, you can feel the heat brewing beneath the surface. I honestly don’t know how I will be able to wait until January to read more.
In addition to the characters, I really enjoyed Black’s writing style. I am a big fan of Holly Black as it is, but she really outdid herself with this one. She has this amazing way of intertwining fantasy with contemporary. There are parts of this book that take place in the human world and then goes right back to the faerie world seamlessly.
One thing I like to consider when reviewing a book is how the book made me feel when I read it. This book made me feel excited. Yes, there were a few parts that were a little hard for me to read. I’m not a huge fan of books that portray characters being severely unkind, but in this case, I knew Jude could handle her own and it was never to a point where I wanted to stop reading.
Parts of this book surprised me. Parts of it did not. But one thing I know for sure, I will be recommending this one all year to anyone who will listen. ‘The Cruel Prince.’ Get it now. And Come January… I know what I will be reading.