Review: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

Release Date: January 2nd 2018

Published By: Hot Key Books

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Purchase: Booktopia     The Book Depository

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis: 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.

Review: I was very excited for The Cruel Prince, I mean, who does fae better than Holly Black? Black’s fae are dark, mysterious, ruthless, devious, cruel and alluring. And while I did see all these appealing traits in this book, the fae were not quite as dark or underhanded as I had imagined they would be.

The story follows Jude, a young human girl living in the High Court – although she doesn’t really belong. She has been living there since a child, since her parents were brutally murdered, and her High Court protector is none other than the fae that she watched murder her parents. As a human she will never belong the only home she has ever really known – and belonging is the one thing her heart and mind truly desires.

This aspect of the story certainly has a element of Stockholm syndrome. Jude, unlike her siblings, wants nothing more than to be accepted by the court, to belong. And she seems to have flicked the switch to ignore the cruelty of her situation and has just accepted the past for what it is and is trying to make the best life possible for herself with the hand that she has dealt.

I can’t say I really liked Jude. She certainly has good qualities – she is strong, quick, protective, unwavering. As a human, she has built an amour to protect herself from the fae around her, but she knows herself that she is still vulnerable. But I found her ability to ignore the past a little unnerving, and her determination was actually blind stupidly at times. Jude suffers from unrelenting bullying throughout the story due to her humanness, and this has made Jude tough – she is resilient and smart, but sometimes her pure determination to cement her worthiness makes her blind to actualities of her situation and surrounding.

The cruel prince, otherwise known as Prince Cardan, was a definitely a jerk, but not quite as cruel as I expected him to be. In fact, it was Jude’s reactions to most of it that had me more frustrated than the cruelty itself. But I did enjoy the intrigue of this character – the underlying suspicions, the manipulation, the uncertain motivations, and the question mark that surrounded his actions. And while he was an asshat, I still found him to be complex and intriguing, and I just wish I could have more of his story.

This story is filled with despicable characters – both fae and human. In fact, there were not many characters that I actually liked. But this isn’t a bad thing – I actually enjoy books with unlikeable characters. I find it interesting and disconcerting at the same time.

Overall I found this book to be enjoyable. It was slow to get into but I found this was because the world was being built and the characters had backstories to bring into the picture. I actually enjoy a good world building, so I didn’t find this to be negative or distracting. I don’t’ feel the need to connect to characters all the time, especially when it comes to stories and characters with fantasy elements. I mean I can sit here in my very human state, in my very human world and say that I wouldn’t do what that character did, or I wouldn’t feel that way, but at the end of the day who knows what I would think or do if I was a fae world – or if I was fae myself! This is something that I will never know (well, I don’t think I ever will). So the element of having unrelatable characters in an unrelatable world sits okay with me.

The storytelling was amazing. In true Holly Black style, the fae aspects are very well thought out, with beautiful descriptions and cruel undertones. The story is filled with half-truths, untrustworthy perspectives, twists and unexpected surprises For anyone who enjoys the cruel fae world, I definitely recommend you pick this one up.

What do you think?

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