Friday, January 19, 2018

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Format: Hardcover 

Page Count: 384


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 years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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. (taken from

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. 

Okay, so I know pretty much everyone in the entire world of YA blogging and reading adored this book, and I fully recognize that I am going to be one of the only reviewers out there who isn't shouting its praises from the highest rooftops. But believe me when I say that I desperately wanted to. I can't get enough fae in my novels, and I wanted more than anything to fall head over heels for The Cruel Prince.

Unfortunately, that didn't exactly happen, but before I launch into the problems I had with this book, let's talk about what I did enjoy.

Like I've said before, I will never say no to a promising fae novel. Holly Black provides a heap of magic, and several aspects of the story she created are great fun. Also, the plot kept me guessing as political schemes unraveled and violence started to spread. I've seen so many people equate this novel to an episode of Game of Thrones simply because you never know when a character will wind up on the wrong end of a blade. In that respect, I agree with other reviewers.

Furthermore, that twisted ending definitely struck me by surprise, and despite the fact that I didn't fall in love with The Cruel Prince, I'm interested to see where Black takes this rollercoaster of a story in the sequel. I have to give her points simply for piquing my interest with such a dark, intriguing conclusion.

However, my praise for the novel pretty much ends there. Here are my biggest problems with TCP, in a nutshell:

-Poor romance. Seriously, I don't understand how anyone feels that this book contains a worthwhile love story. If you're looking for a different version of the romance in A Court of Mist and Fury, certainly don't look here.

-Cliché bullying. At least half of this novels centers around petty fights between Jude and the other fae, which both bored and annoyed me. I read faerie novels for political intrigue and epic tales, not little spats between bratty royalty and a human who can't keep her mouth shut.

-Over-the-top descriptions of the fae realm. Yes, we get that things are different and enchanting there, but not every sentence has to contain something whimsical or disconcerting. I felt like Black was trying a little too hard to craft her world when a dash of subtly could actually have been more effective.

-Characters that were difficult to love. Obviously, not every character needs to be kind or friendly, but I seriously can't think of one character in this story that I actually enjoyed reading about. All of them had serious issues, either in their construction or behavior. Additionally, I think all of them were sorely lacking in depth.

-Too many plot holes. There were several instances where Black starts to introduce a topic, then kind of drops it or doesn't follow the thread all the way through.

So, to sum it all up, I certainly didn't hate The Cruel Prince. It shines in certain areas, particularly towards the end, but overall I felt that it flopped in really important places like character and plot development. Maybe book two will impress me more, but for now, I have to say I'm fairly disappointed with this series that I originally thought I would love.

This one just wasn't as great as I hoped it would be.