The Cruel Prince by Holly Black


*In this book review I will give a brief overview and opinion on the text without the deliberate inclusion of any spoilers.

the cruel prince

Rating: 4 out of 5 books 📖

Goodreads blurb:

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.


I’m really into my fantasy novels lately, luckily I seem to be finding genuinely enjoyable books that are worth a read (so far, touch wood). After seeing this book continuously throughout the Twittersphere and Goodreads lists, I decided to give it a go. I basically consumed this book within two days it was that good. I love the dark side to mythical tales and fairy folklore is no exception. Glamour, poisonous fruit and children stealing fey are the main attraction in The Cruel Prince. But with that being said, it’s our human protagonist Jude that really shines through the sea of magic.


Jude is a character that surprises everyone, including the reader, with her bravery and determination. As a human in the fairy world, she faces many obstacles both social and physical in her journey of survival and personal mission to make a place for herself in this dangerous world.


‘Nice things don’t happen in storybooks,’ Taryn says. ‘Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.’ -Taryn Duarte


It’s the intrigue of fairy life, the dynamic of the fairy court and Jude’s family household that provides endless threads of secondary storylines and mystery not yet discovered by the protagonist but can be seen in the subtlety of Black’s writing. As the reader you see familial relations, court hierarchy and familiar school-like cliques woven together to make a messy web of connections.


As for the secondary characters, Jude’s twin sister Taryn annoyed me with her frivolousness and selfish naivete. Especially when it came to her desperation to be accepted into fairy life- even at the expense of those around her. As for Vivienne, Jude’s other sister, I never knew how I felt about her as a character, sometimes she annoyed me to no end but there are also times when she revealed things that made me understand her as a character more.


But one of the most interesting and dynamic connections I found in the book was Madoc and Jude’s relationship, as it is incredibly complex and fascinating. Stained with blood and betrayal, their relationship is made up of some form of misguided love mixed with hate and rage. A completely different take on the father/daughter relationship and one that I haven’t seen in a book before, or at least not one that I can recall.


The element of romance is a slow burner in this book, it sneaks up out of nowhere and turns the book on its head. It’s definitely a hate to love you type feeling, but I’m all for it. Although unlike other YA fantasy novels, the romance is not the primary storyline which makes the entire story that more enticing. You know it’s there in the background and can creep up at any moment but it’s the when part that alludes the reader.


‘Most of all, I hate you because I think of you. Often. It’s disgusting, and I can’t stop.’   -Cardan


There is scandal, betrayal, violence and pain throughout this story in both past and present aspects. So if you’re looking for a new fantasy read then this is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend. Although there is no cliffhanger ending (thank god), the novel leaves us with an opening to a new chapter in the plotline, with fresh possibilities and exciting future story arcs.


Would you read this book? Or have you already read it? If so, what did you think?

9 thoughts on “The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

  1. I love reading your reviews, you’re such a grat writer! I have to admit that I’ve been pretty iffy with picking this one up; only because I’ve heard so many mixed reviews! But I think I really want to give this a try because it has all the elements that i enjoy reading in a YA novel – so I might just borrow it from the library!!! Fabulous post, Chloe! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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