The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

Release date: 2 January 2018
Rating: 10/10
Goodreads link
Book Depository link

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) 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…

One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The fearsome assassin abducts all three girls and brings them to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed into the royal court. Mocked and tormented for being merely mortal, Jude soon realises that to survive in this treacherous, dangerous, new world, she needs to be as smart, cunning and deceitful as the Fey themselves.

But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan. Jude must take the utmost care.

There is a LOT of hype for this book right now. Let me tell you it is worth every second. This is quite possibly going to be the best book I read this year (yes, I am aware that we’re only halfway into February), and I immediately want the next book in the series.

The premise is there is a human girl, Jude, living in the world of the Fae, and her Fae ‘father’ (for lack of a better term, he’s not her biological daddy) has raised her as his own. As the General to the High King, that means that Jude, along with her sisters, are to attend school with the Prince and other Fae children, they learn strategy and sword fighting from their ‘father’, and they grow up as if they were actual Fae children. Except Jude isn’t. So Jude and the Prince (who hates her for reasons), have a rivalry. Although, I thought it was a bit overkill on how much they hated each other (I mean, we get it, they’re bound to end up together later, it’s practically fate at this point… we’ve all read Maas stories), and sliding into the ‘thou-doth-protest-a-bit-too-much’. And then the story moves on from there.

To be honest, I’m not going to go into the plot much because I’m terrified I will give away spoilers. (the one above isn’t really a spoiler — you only have to read the blurb to see that “Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest… when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.”) However, there are enough tid-bits and Easter eggs in the story along the way that a lot of things you can guess at. But even figuring out things along the way, that ending… BLEW. MY. MIND.

I found the world building really intriguing. I thought this would be a high fantasy novel, but it’s kind of actually urban fantasy, which I think is really different for this type of novel (basing this judgement purely on a lot of ‘fae’ novels released recently, i.e. Sarah J Maas type books where everything is set in a fantasy world, even if there is a human element). While this was really great, the only thing that I thought could have been done better was explaining how you can really cross over from one ‘dimension’ to the next. It’s kind of there, but also kind of half-assed. But really, if that’s my only complaint then I don’t have a huge deal to whine about.

In terms of the characters, I’m a huge fan of morally grey ones. I like them so dark, you’re unable to see any goodness in them. That was how I knew I would love Rhysand from the time he storms into Tamlin’s house in ACOTAR. It’s how I knew I would love Rowan when he and Celaena met and argued for the next month. It’s how I knew that Laurent was amazing when he had Damen whipped. I’m kind of a sadist… without the sexual pleasure thing… also, without me personally doing the abuse part… and only on fictional characters… There needs to be a word for that!

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, I love Cardan. I just don’t care how mean he is to Jude. In fact, the meaner, the better. When Locke was being all sweet I desperately wanted to vomit (seriously, he was like a hybrid Tamlin-Lucien character), but when Carden was mean (but not over the top like Valerian* — I have some sense of decency!) I’m fairly certain my heart started singing and I became a puddle of mush on the ground.

To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how I am going to wait for the next book… although, not all is lost. Goodreads already has books two and three named with expected publications to be 2019 and 2020. We only need to wait at least a year.

* I’d just like to point out that while Laurent literally had Damen whipped to near death, I still didn’t find that over the top, but Valerian… man, something about that guy just sets my skin crawling!

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“...all the fierce passions of the world bound in leather and vellum.” — M. L. Rio, If We Were Villains

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