The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

26032825. sy475 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 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.



After seeing so much hype around book two in this series (and so much thirst on Twitter for Cardan), I finally convinced my self to check this series out and get my hands on the audiobook. The fae are amongst the most interesting supernatural creatures to me, and in that regard, I wasn’t fully disappointed (looking at you ACOTAR). Unfortunately, the characters and the overall Mean Girls in Fairyland feel turned me off.

I’ll start with what I liked. After having read ACOTAR several years back, my expectations for the fae in YA was literally on the floor. If Jude didn’t spend 75% of the book having dramatically steamy sex with Cardan, I would be happy. And, I was glad to find out, she certainly did not. There was court intrigue, which I really liked, and when Jude wasn’t busy telling the reader how much she hated Carden, I liked her ambitions and determined character.

Unfortunately, the biggest detractor of this book for me was the overall highschool, Mean Girls-esque feel. Within the first 30 minutes of listening, I was so so close to DNFing because of how boring it was to listen to teenaged human girls be bullied by similar aged(?) teenaged(???) faeries throwing mud in their food, pulling their pigtails, and calling them names. Compared to the notorious fae trickery, this kind of lunchroom bullying just felt so childish and petty and so so out of character from what I would expect from faeries. I thank my friends for convincing me to keep going and telling me “it gets better” because once the intrigue and actual plot kicked in, it did get better. Somewhat.

Even after Jude gets dragged into conspiracies for crowning the next king and the lunchroom bullying fades away a little, there are still these little reminders of, oh yeah there’s a human world, oh yeah they like to go to the mall, oh yeah let’s describe in extreme detail every dress and every outfit other characters are wearing for the humans to fawn over that just felt so out of place from this otherwise fantasy world. While I think the narrator did a great job, I also think these details were exaggerated with the valley-girl voices she gave the characters that just really hammered in those points.

One of my biggest pet peeves when reading is when an author describes a character as clever, and then the character doesn’t deliver. Holly Black does this in spades. Early on, Jude’s father is described as a master strategist and that Jude is learning in his steps and is also supposed to be a good strategist. Almost immediately after, Jude’s father boasts about how their enemies are probably not very smart and they don’t need to be taken seriously. Which, to me, raises an immediate red flag of someone who’s not very good at strategy. Later on, I felt like these characters fell for the easiest mistakes and the twists very extremely predictable, situations that “master strategists” should have been able to predict.

Finally, I didn’t like Carden. I don’t see his appeal?? And this is coming from someone who likes evil characters. He’s a dick, but only in a petty way, he’s not very clever, has no plans of his own and just wants to sit around drinking, and just over… I didn’t find him interesting? He’s a terrible love interest for sure. Jude you can do way better. Supposedly he gets better in book two, but given what I’ve seen so far, I’m dubious.

Overall, I rate this book a 3/5. I liked the court intrigue and I liked Judes ambition, but constant Mean Girls high school feel really dragged the book down.

r/Fantasy 2020 Bingo Squares

  • Novel Set in a School or University
  • Romantic Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
  • Format: Audiobook

Publication Date: 2 January 2018
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 370
Word Count: N/A
ISBN: 9788417390617

2 thoughts on “The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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