“The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black #BookReview

Georgia Kostopoulou


It was back in 2018, I think, when I got my hands on this beauty and for some reason I hadn’t read it all this time. As the next books came out, I started collecting them so once I had the whole trilogy I thought to myself that it was about time I read it. Guess what? I didn’t! But, at last, the time came for me to read “The Cruel Prince” and see where I find myself around this hype.

“Because you’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet. Because I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

The story begins in the mortal world at the time Jude is seven years old. She was then living with her parents and sisters an easy and quiet life. Until one day, her parents get murder and she and her two sisters are stolen by a mighty Faerie. The same one that killed their parents. Now, ten years later, the three of them live in the High Court of Faerie. The High King’s captain, Madoc, is treating them all as his children and they get the same education and as much as possible equal opportunities with every other fey in treacherous Elfhame. The case is that mortals are considered to be lesser than the fey, so Jude, wanting so much to belong there, is doing everything in her power to make them see her as worthy. But many of the fey don’t really care. They despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan and his friends.

“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

Prince Cardan is the youngest son of the High King. He is a very cruel person, a wicked one. And he makes Jude’s life a living hell. He and his group of friends follow no rules. Unfortunately for Jude, they all get the same lessons, so Jude has no way to avoid them. However she is training hard and she wants to fight in the Summer Tournament, aiming to become knight one day. This way she will be able to establish her position in the Court. But things don’t go exactly as she expected.

“If you hurt me, I wouldn’t cry. I would hurt you back.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

The cool thing about this one is that Jude and Cardan are of the same age, so there is no way he can have years, or eons of experience to use on his plots. This means they are playing a fair game, except for the fact that he is fae and she is mortal. But okay, you cannot have it all I guess. It also means that we get to see tricks seventeen year olds would do, which means that they may also have some ignorance of dangers or they simply don’t care. Which, of course, sometimes meant lethal actions and dangerous decisions. The whole Court is fed by pain, plot, secrets and power.

“I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

In the first part of the book we get to know the kingdom, the characters and the relationships among the Court members and everyone else in Elfhame. It’s the world building part, where we see Jude, our main female character trying to fit in and thinking of an attempt to shine. Once we have established that part, we move to the second part where we see a transformation in Jude. She becomes ruthless and goal oriented. She is determined to get everything she wants for herself and for those she loves!

“Have I told you how hideous you look tonight?” Cardan asks, leaning back in the elaborately carved chair, the warmth of his words turning the question into something like a compliment.
“No” I say, glad to be annoyed back into the present. “Tell me.”
“I can’t.”
― Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

I’m not exactly certain how I feel about this book. I didn’t really like any of the characters. And Jude never really won my heart. Her line of thinking is not something I would support and I was questioning her decisions many times throughout the book. But it was fun to read and I have the books, so I’ll just go on and read them! What I’m trying to say is that it was a book I easily read, but didn’t actually love. I expected more to happen between Jude and Cardan, but I guess I’ll have to read that in the second book. It wasn’t boring, the story kept going and I wanted to read it! It’s more of a neutral to positive review.


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