The Cruel Prince by Holly Black follows Jude, a human girl living in a world of faeries after her parents were murdered. As a human, Jude isn’t well-respected by the faeries, but she wants nothing more to prove them wrong and join their guard. To win a place at court, Jude must use her ability to lie to spy on faeries vying for the crown. However, one of the cruelest fairy princes, Cardan, keeps getting in her away.
I saw a ton of hype surrounding The Cruel Prince and after reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, I wanted to read more books including faeries. As a result, I immediately added The Cruel Prince to my TBR. I hadn’t read any of Holly Black’s other books, but I remembered somewhat enjoying her short story in My True Love Gave to Me. While The Cruel Prince wasn’t everything I expected, I still really enjoyed it and can see myself continuing on with the series.
My favorite aspect of this book would have to be the writing style. Holly Black’s writing style flows easily which made me want to keep turning the pages. Her experience in fantasy clearly shows through because the world building was incorporated well into the story line instead of being presented as blocks of information. While the story initially started a little slow for me, it definitely built to a satisfying conclusion that made me curious to read the next book.
That being said, there was a spark missing from this book that made it stand out from other similar books to me. The first aspect that fell a little flat for me were the characters. Jude is the typical strong female character that I’ve seen quite a few times in young adult series. Likewise, Cardan is the arrogant prince who does extremely cruel actions early in the book, but later reveals a troubled past which I’ve seen in many other books (and sometimes better). Hopefully, their characters (as well as some of the minor characters) will be a little more fleshed out in the upcoming books in the series.
Another part of this book that surprised me was the incorporation of the world outside of the faerie lands. I guess I’m used to a more rustic setting in the human world in books that involve faeries than reading about characters going to the mall or Target. While unique to some other faerie books on the market, for me personally, it seemed a little off compared to the faerie setting. It just was a little unexpected for me that the book occurs in a world similar to mine, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it did throw me off a little while reading.
Overall, The Cruel Prince is a solidly written fantasy book, but it needed a little something extra to make it stand out for me. I give this book three out of five stars.