The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | Book Review

Rating: 7/10

Format: Audio-Book – Library

I read this for my YA book club. Awhile back we read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, also by Holly Black. We loved it. TCGiC is a damn classic in vampire writing and YA in general. A stand-out stand-alone book is a precious rarity in YA. Also, TCGiC is proof you can write about vampires and not be trashy and nonsensical (though, to be fair, most of us still enjoy trashy nonsensical vampire books). Anyway, we’ve been following Ms. Black ever since then. So we read The Darkest Part of the Forrest when it came out and found it underwhelming. Not bad, just… not anywhere near as amazing as TCGiC. But we still had high hopes for Holly Black! So we read The Cruel Prince, and I for one had a lot of feelings.

We follow Jude, human girl who lives in Faerieland. She lives with the Faerie General who killed her human parents. No joke. Literally she and her sisters have lived with him for 10 years and they have dinner together, and go to parties, and he (mostly) treats Jude and her also-human twin like they’re his daughters. He killed their parents while they were there watching. Somehow Jude is still pretty obsessed with impressing him. So, #daddyissues, I guess.

I’m not going to take the time to explain their bizarre family tree, just know that they’re attempting to bring new meaning to the term “blended family.”

Jude wants to belong in Faerie– no, more than that– she wants to be safe in Faerie, which means she needs power. She’s a mortal among immortals, and mundane among magic-users, so her power is in short supply. The only thing she can do that fairies can’t is lie.

There’s an incredible amount of hiding and lying in this book. It’s a pet peeve of mine when people won’t just talk to one another and solve things like adults (even when they’re teenagers). Fairies are sneaky with their words and enjoy twisting things this way and that. They love secrets and treat the human characters like playthings for the most part. It’s kind of like every character in this book has anti-social personality disorder.

Early on, we meet Prince Carden and his cadre of sketchy faerie popular kids. The story is universal, really these parts feel like they could take place in any random high school. Jude and her twin are bullied by the faerie kids because they’re mortal, but Jude is the world’s most obnoxious Slytherin-Gryffindor combo (truly, do not let those two houses get together, it seems like poor choices), and cannot say no to a fight, so ridiculously humiliating and dangerous things continue to happen to her. And I do mean humiliating and literally near-death. No one pulls punches in this story, either.

THUS, her quest for power and ability to lie lead her into spycraft. She becomes entangled in the extremely muddled, macabre, dark, and gross world of the faerie court. Death, intrigue, more death, some hostage taking and yet more death, define the action of this book. There is not enough kissing. I will say I do love a love-hate romance. I don’t feel that’s a spoiler because Jude basically hates everyone.

If you want to read a dark book about an anti-heroine, The Cruel Prince is waiting just for you.  Based on the Goodreads reviews, most people enjoyed this book more than I did. Honestly, it’s just too mean for my tastes. Though to be honest, I am almost certain to read the next one, even though it’s likely to be even more dark and painful than this one.

Objective hearts: 4/5

Subjective Hearts: 3/5

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