Rating: 3.5 / 5
I have had THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black on my shelf for what feels like ages, but have hesitated to pick it up after seeing very mixed reviews. It was announced as a #backlistgotbackedup readathon buddy read so it was finally time to give it a shot.
THE CRUEL PRINCE is book one in Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series. It follows Jude, a human living in the world of the fae. When Jude and her sister were little girls, their parents were murdered by their older sister’s father and then is taken back to the fae realm to live with her sister’s family. They are both part of the High Court of Faerie, privy to the ways of the fae, but also entirely outsiders being lowly humans.
Prince Cardan is the youngest son of the king and the most cruel, seeming to make it is mission to torture Jude in particular. Jude’s loyalties are tried, torn between respect and love for the man who raised her, but also hatred in the knowledge that he killed her parents. Jude gets more and more caught up in the politics of the realm and of Prince Cardan’s family, seeking to protect her family and herself.
I can see why this book gets such mixed reviews. I liked the world that Holly Black developed and the strife between the fae and the humans. Jude’s pull between two worlds did draw me into her story quite a bit. Still, I wasn’t entirely drawn in to the book as a whole. The interactions between Jude and Carden felt very juvenile oftentimes, sort of like kids pulling pigtails at recess. I didn’t feel like there was quite enough development of how their relationship went down this path initially and why Jude was the target of Carden’s cruelty. Other relationships such as the one between Jude and her sister also felt a bit flat to me.
As THE WICKED KING and QUEEN OF NOTHING were both readily available on audio through my library I did finish out the series and did like THE WICKED KING quite a bit more than the first installment. This one had more relationship development and more action. The final installment left me underwhelmed.
Overall this is one that was an easy read and one I am glad to check off on my TBR, but not a series I’d say is a must read.