The Cruel Prince by Holly Black ~ 370 pages ~ published 1/2/18 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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.
What I Thought:
I’m going to be honest…I really wasn’t feeling this book. (Please don’t come for me with your guns and pitchforks!) I know that this book has been getting absolute rave reviews, but I just wasn’t that into it.
I generally try to stay away from books that are super hyped, at least until the hype dies down. But then, I read The Hate U Give, which was super hyped, and I loved it. Therefore, I figured I would give this book a chance too. I got this book in an OwlCrate box, and I was excited to start on it. I was sorely disappointed. I just couldn’t get into a groove with it. I’m a generally a very fast reader. I can usually finish a book this size within a couple of days. It took me a full week to finish this book because I kept putting it down to do other things. It just didn’t capture me, like a good book should.
Here is what I did like. Holly Black’s world building was phenomenal. It was so intricate, extremely well thought out, and stunning in its visuals. The setting was so inventive, and the political climate was so vivid. I also really enjoyed all of the references to mythology, as well as classic fairy tales.
This was something that was quite different than any other YA novel I have ever read: the political focus. There was so much court intrigue, including succession order, the various circles of loyalty, spy networks, political compromises and alliances, grappling for power…I could go on. Also, Black’s writing style is wonderful. On that front I have no complaints.
The problem with this novel, for me, was that I really just didn’t care about any of the characters. I felt like they were all fairly well rounded, but none of them grabbed me. I didn’t really have anyone I was rooting for. Jude, the main character, started out as someone I thought I might be able to get behind, but as the story progressed, so did her descent into immorality.
“The odd thing about ambition is this: You can acquire it like a fever, but it is not so easy to shed.”
I also felt like some of the choices the characters made late in the novel didn’t really fit with the way they had been behaving up until that point. One of these characters was Cardan (the cruel prince of the title). I won’t go into detail about why I felt that his character changed in an unbelievable way, since that would be a spoiler of sorts, but I wanted to mention it because it truly bothered me.
Overall, the fact that I just couldn’t make myself pick up this book was a huge detriment in its favor for me. It felt like work, not pleasure.
I gave The Cruel Prince 3 STARS. While I felt that the world-building and writing was extremely well done, I just did not care about the characters and it felt like a chore to pick up the book.
Are you interested in learning more about this book? Check out the links below!
Holly Black’s Website
Holly Black’s Facebook Page
The Cruel Prince’s Goodreads Page
Purchase The Cruel Prince on BN.com
Love and happy reading,