The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Folk of the Air #1
Summary from NetGalley:
“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.
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review.
Wow, I’m sort of at a loss for words on what to say about this book. It was brilliant and yet still deeply disturbing and dark. It was all I usually expect from Holly Black, but much more. The characters are all deeply flawed, and the main character, Judd is the most flawed of all of them and definitely an anti-hero. I’m pretty sure the Prince of the title is Cardan, but there are many princes in this world and all of them are cruel and vicious when it comes to humans and even each other.
There is not one character from this book that I can honestly say I liked, and by this I mean someone that I would like to spend time with. I found every character unlikable and some I would want to avoid at any cost. The only one that maybe I liked was Jude’s older sister, Vivienne, she seemed to be the most sane and the only one who at least wanted to leave the Fae world and never look back. But I didn’t like that she didn’t try harder to help or protect her sisters from this world that she at least fit into by blood. I have a hard time understanding why Jude and her sister Taryn want to stay. Neither of them are treated very kindly by anyone, but yet they seem to have a twisted love for the ‘father’ who raised them and for the world itself. The fae that Jude encounters throughout the book are mostly cruel to her and her sister. Some even try to kill her. Jude is definitely a character with moral dilemmas and a warped understanding between right and wrong. Her relationship with her family is also warped, especially considering how things work out between her and her twin. Wow, I’m stunned to the depths they both go to in order to get what they want.
Prince Cardan was an interesting character that I had a lot of mixed feelings about. Like Jude I found him fascinating, but in a dark and warped way. Just how evil and cruel can one person be? Very in his case. Of course some of this is explained in the context of the whole story, but still a very interesting character and his relationship with Jude will only get worse before it maybe gets better.
The book starts with the murder of her parents and Jude and her sister’s kidnapping. We then are transported 10 years into the future and the horrors that the sister’s now endure as humans in the fae world. They have escaped the worst fate that most humans endure in that world, but it really isn’t any better. The plot is fascinating and keeps you on the edge of your seat, although it is slow at times. The last third of the book is the best with all of the court intrigue and then that ending is not to be believed. Many of the twists and turns were totally unexpected and I did not see coming at all. Although in retrospect it all makes perfect sense in the end, the pieces are all there, you just needed to put them together and recognize their importance.
This book is not to be missed. It is a master stroke of genius and a glimpse at a very dark and cruel version of the fairy world.