Fairy Stories, Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

cruel prince

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 370
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Where to Buy: Barnes and Noble |AmazonThe Lit Bar  |The Strand


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 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.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.


It has been weeks since I’ve read The Cruel Prince, but it is still whirling in my head and I have to talk about it. Before I begin, I do want to mention that there may be small spoilers throughout my review. This book was a wild adventure that I was only half prepared for. There were so many parts that gave me joy while other parts where I wanted to fling the book at Cardan if he were real. Jude Duarte, a human in Eflhame, was taken along with her sisters by her older sister Vivi’s father after he slaughtered her parents. She lives a human among the fae for what she believes will be the rest of her her. Fast forward to ten years, Jude now a teen must continue to face living in Elfhame and all that comes with being an outsider.

Jude and her family
From the beginning, it is evident that Jude has a complicated family dynamic. She resides with her twin Taryn, her sister Vivienne, Vivienne’s father Madoc, his wife Oriana and their younger brother Oak. The sister and Madoc do not have the best relationship since it all began in bloodshed, but he has become their caretaker and has been teaching Jude to be a powerful fighter. Oriana keeps Oak away from Jude, for what looks like his protection. Honestly, I think it was more for Jude’s protection since she is easily susceptible to Oak’s glamour. Family dysfunction and all, Jude does hold some respect for Madoc because of his standing in Elfhame, a standing that ultimately she takes full advantage of.

Although a twin, Jude and Taryn cannot more different. Jude is resilient and won’t back away from a fight. She accepts the fact that she is not like the others and does her best to live a normal-ish life. Taryn, however, is all about fitting in and finding her permanent place in Elfhame, even if it means going against her sister. Essentially Taryn is the rule follower if it benefits her.  During the story, Taryn’s actions were frustrating and though I understood her logic, I did not appreciate her lack of loyalty to her own family. Then again, in the family, loyalty is not as thick as blood as one would soon realize.

Jude, and Cardan’s Friends
Wow, just wow. Jude suffered a lot through the hands of both Cardan and his friends. They made sure Jude understood she was inferior to her and would do anything to show just how human she was. From glamouring Jude to do embarrassing acts to almost drowning her, there was no chill in that friend group. In terms of the worst friend, I would have to say Locke took that prize. Although Valerian her very existence, Locke manipulated her and played with her heart , which is something Jude wouldn’t take lightly. Overall, Cardan’s friend like himself were pretty terrible fae.


Jude and Cardan
I could go on and on about Jude and Cardan. First, I want to acknowledge that although I am enjoying this relationship development, I can also see that their entire relationship is pretty problematic. With that being said, I was speechless with everything between these two but not surprised. Something about Cardan’s action reminds me of those young boys who would pick on the girls they liked. Add that he is a fae prince, he was doing everything in his power to make Jude miserable, while also secretly wanting her. I know, it’s odd, but it worked for these two. Jude was a challenge for him and it wasn’t something Cardan was accustomed to. Jude’s interactions with Cardan showed just how strong and powerful she was. She didn’t care about his title, because anyone who got in the way of her goals was to be taken down. Did I expect that the two would change their tunes, no. Boy, was I happy to be surprised by this. The tension between them was so thick you can cut through it with a knife. They are dysfunctional and from far away seem like the least likely match, but they somehow compliment each other.

Jude and Cardan need each other to fulfill their goals so it was bound to happen. I am excited to see where their relationship leads them in the next book. So far, I am intrigued. Jude’s determination and fight makes her so relatable to anyone who has had to work twice as hard to achieve something or to be respected. Cardan’s almost carefree nature adds levity and humor to otherwise cruel nature. Separately I love the two characters, together they are a force to be reckoned with.

Final thoughts
Holly Black has created a world that is full of beauty, magic and terrible secrets. Each description leads my imagination to a place where I can imagine myself being a human in a strange land. Each character development was executed in ways that without one, the story wouldn’t read as good. Holly has a way with words, a way with creating a backdrop that oozes fantasy and mischief, and characters that you love to hate and hate to love.