Review: Cruel Prince

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 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.

Whoa boy do I have some thoughts on this book. I’m back on a fae binge now, thanks to the wonderful Holly Black.

So, disclosure, I actually was using this book for an art study. I picked a book I’d never read before, then used it to pull descriptive words for the MCs, then drew the character as the book went along to see how 1) I developed visuals of characters, 2) how the descriptions changed through the book, 3) how my own life affected my image of the character. It was a really interesting assignment, but whatever that’s a different story; just disclosing it because it DID change how I read the book.

So, why did no one tell me Holly Black’s writing had become the cool cousin of Leigh Bardugo’s style? Because if I had known, I would’ve been reading the HECK out of her stuff for ages now! Aka, I adored it. Those long time (also nonexistent but whatever) readers of mine will remember my disappointment in the Dark Breaks the Dawn series: this book reminded me a lot of what that series COULD’VE been, if all was right with the world.

Black paints an incredibly vivid, lush fae world, full of magic, lavish characters, and intricate plot. I loved to hate Jude (she had some serious moral issues going on but was trying to be a good person too), and hated that I loved Cardan SO FREAKING MUCH (Darkling vibes all around). Her characters were complex and interesting, in a very realistic, human (or, well, fae I guess) way.

This book was a wonderful choice for my project because it was BEAUTIFULLY descriptive. I’ve Holly Black through Spiderwick, moons ago, and this reminded me how incredibly vivid and enamoring her worlds are. She was able to contrast the world of the fae and the mortal world in a way that was very immersive, as well as just generally engaging. Jude looked on at humans as someone who did not understand their world, but felt that it was an innate part of her being all the same. This resulted in a very interesting dynamic when it came to the world building and character development and just DANG GIRL this was such an interesting book and I was so into it.

tl;dr—if you want some dark, lush fantasy, very reminiscent of Leigh Bardugo PLUS faeries, this is for you.

4 out of 5.


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