‘The Cruel Prince’ by Holly Black went beyond my expectations.
Synopsis: Jude and her sisters were taken from the mortal realm at a young age to live with a Faerie War General to the High King. After 10 years of being an outsider, enduring unprovoked attacks and trying to stay alive, Jude is taking a stand. A deal with a Faerie prince allows Jude the power she’s always craved but with royal politics at every turn, Jude must learn her skills quickly; there’s a wicked plot to uncoil.
This is the first ‘hardcore’ faerie book I have read and it set my tastebuds alight. Before this, my experiences with the Fae have been fairly innocent – not at all at this level, so this was a surprise to say the least. The land of Faerie sounds utterly enchanting. I loved Black’s descriptions and she had just enough detail in them to set a scene and then allowed you to conjure the rest up. I will admit that I sometimes forgot that their day is nighttime and this muddled the events for me somewhat but it was my fault; I cannot place the blame on the book.
Jude is vastly different to her twin, Taryn. This was evident before the trouble started and I think it’s because there was no ‘twin-connection’. Whenever twins are mentioned in books, they always seem to come with that odd connection where they finish each others sentences, etc. but there was none of that here and so Jude seemed entirely separate to Taryn. I couldn’t get enough of the path Jude took. I didn’t know I needed her anger and ambition until it was placed at my feet. In the end, she trumped them all because she knew the rules, was on the shitty end of them enough times and she took advantage of weakness.
Jude wasn’t the only character who exceeded my expectations. Almost all the characters had a genuine depth to them. Even the side characters are delved into and a larger imagine is soon piecing itself together. Cardan is complicated. Is he a bully? Yes. Does he try not to be horrible? Not really. Should we all hate him? Yes. Do we? I don’t. When I think of him, I have the saying ‘treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen’ in my head. He walks that fine line between love and hate and it is glorious. It’s full of fear and anger and lust and longing. If I could pick my favourite part about this book, it would be that balance and he walked it well.
I found the relationship between the sisters and Madoc the most tumultuous and you have to applaud Black on this because the breadth of emotions that are touched upon alone are incredible. I would have found their background much too difficult to flesh out but she’s managed it perfectly. I doubt (seriously hope not) any of us would be able to empathise with the sisters about their feelings towards Madoc given their history but Black’s conducted a way – somehow – for us to understand it all. I found empathy and the lack of it a HUGE theme in this book. Jude is able to see the horrors of Faerie for what they are and tries to correct them on occasion, even Cardan is able to feel this emotion though he wouldn’t have you believe it. However, the majority of the Fae seem unaware of it and I think that’s what makes the cruelty so much more damning.
Even after a few days, I still do not know how I feel about this book. Don’t get me wrong, the story is rich, it’s full of events that shock you and twist your feelings. It keeps you on your toes and it allows your imagination to run wild. Some of the scenes were unexpected and the outcome more so and I was caught up in it all. Think of me as the fly in a spiderweb, looking on at the spider in dread as it saunters towards me. That’s what this book is. I loved it but feared it too. Sign me up for round two, please.
“Most of all, I hate you because I think of you. Often. It’s disgusting, and I can’t stop.”
I received this in Fairyloot’s January ‘Talk Faerie To Me’ and Owlcrate’s January ‘Fearsome Fairy Tales’ box.
You can get it here