Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

26032825Jude 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.

Goddman. That was amazing. I’m gonna have to gush, folks. I loved everything about this book. I loved the characters. I loved the plot. I loved how Holly Black did fairies (and I am not a fan of YA fairies). It was unputdownable, dark, cruel, awesomeness. This is the first book in a while that has made me stay up at night because, fuck it, I needed more. And I need the next book yesterday. Okay? Okay.

Let’s start with Jude. She was awesome. A lot of characters in YA books say that they’re so mean or not nice or nobody loves them or whatever, but, as far as I can tell, they’re perfect little Barbies. Jude is not. She’s hot-headed and aware of it. She talks back too much and has way too much pride and she knows it might get her killed and she doesn’t give a shit. She just wants to prove herself, and you get why. You see how she’s treated and you understand why she should maybe keep her head down but I just hoped that she didn’t. She was so angry and afraid and awesome and she was just the right amout of ambitious and cruel while not being heartless and such a Slytherin and I LOVE HER SO MUCH OKAY.

And the titular Cruel Prince was pretty great, too. (And, yes, I ship Cardan and Jude so much because I am good at having Problematic Ships that would be Really Unhealthy Relationships.) He wasn’t oh, I’m tortured and dark and eeevil but also so dashing and tragic. Cruel is a good word for him. He’s not nice. He’s complex and complicated, yes, but he is not going to melt and become Good and Honourable because the right girl shows him kindness. You’re not supposed to feel sorry for him. You’re supposed to kind of hate him, and kind of understand him, but still withhold your sympathy. In a book with a different heroine, he would be the clear villain. But Jude is so dark and violent and okay I’m gushing about Jude again. (I’m sorry, I just want them become an evil Slytherin power couple and rule over everybody as tyrants. Because those are normal, healthy #RelationshipGoals.)

And let’s appreciate that I LIKED HOW HOLLY BLACK DID FAIRIES. Wonder of wonders! Ignoring the fact that I still think of fairies as things like Tinkerbell, I’ve pretty much accepted that in YA, almost all the time, fairies=sex gods. Nothing else. We’re often *told* they’re cruel and petty and not nice, but all we get shown is fairies=sex gods. Not so here, folks! They’re all mean, scheming, terrible assholes! I’m so happy! And it worked so well. They don’t exist for blonde-haired girls to fall in love with in Beauty and the Beast retellings. (I’m not referencing any specific book. Totally not.) These are the kind of fairies you try to escape from if you fall for them. Because they work humans to death. They kill humans for fun. Do not come to these fairies looking for stories with happy endings. This book made

And that ending! Holly Black, do you make fairy bargains?Because I would like to make one with you for the next book please. I cannot wait the however many months it’s supposed to be for the next one. I need more Cardan. I need more Jude. I need more Jude scheming. I need more Jude proving everyone wrong. I need more Jude being power-hungry. I need more Jude being angry. I need more. I need more. I need more. [Also, St. Jude is the (male) patron saint of lost causes. Coincidence? Foreshadowing? I MUST KNOW.]

So, you’ve showed up to know if you should read The Cruel Prince? YES. It’s good. If you think this is going to be another YA fantasy with fairies, a bland “tough” protagonist, and a tortured-bad-boy love interest, it’s not. It’s so much more. It’s so much bloodier. It’s so much better. Now, Holly Black, about that deal?

Verdict: worth buying

Have you read The Cruel Prince? What do you think about Jude? About Cardan? How do you like your fairies? And, if you were in a bloody YA world, what would you do? (I like to think I’d be like Jude and be a badass, but I’d probably hide in the forest and forget what normal life was like.)

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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