Book Review: The Cruel Prince

Book Review: The Cruel Prince

Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

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The Cruel Prince

Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Page Count: 370
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Cover Artist: Sean Freeman
My Rating: ★1/2

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
My rating: 1.5 of 5 stars


It’s been nearly two years since I read The Cruel Prince, so I guess I should probably finally write a review. There are two instances when I find myself having difficulty sitting down and writing a review. 1) The book is so good that I am afraid to do it a disservice by writing a review that doesn’t accurately reflect my feelings. 2) The book annoyed me so much or I disliked it so much that I couldn’t wait to get away from it and leave it in the dust. My reaction towards The Cruel Prince was the latter.

This book, (I can’t say for the entire series because I haven’t read it and have no plans to do so,) is the perfect example of how hype can impact a book’s success and have the power to reach the majority of readers. My question is: for what? What does this book offer that would make is so likable? In my opinion, The Cruel Prince tries all too hard to be an interesting and desirable story. There are so many elements in its plot that I had major issues with, so let’s discuss the main ones briefly before I lose my concentration and want to run away from writing this review again.

First, let me say that there is certainly an enchanting aura surrounding the world of Elfhame. While it isn’t well-built, it (along with the description of Jude’s dresses) has the most description out of anything. After the initial reaction, it all falls flat.

My main qualm with The Cruel Prince is Jude. Jude, Jude, Jude. This character, my friends, makes absolutely no sense to me. She’s a human living in the world of the fae with her human sister. She apparently experiences “torment” from her peers, yet, each of these experiences is so forced, unnatural, and unconvincing that they can hardly be labeled as such. Sure, Jude’s past has an incredibly terrible incident where her parents are brutally murdered. Little about how this actually affects her (besides her having to live in Elfhame) is traversed. From prejudice that Jude experiences, she becomes this incredibly spiteful person that apparently becomes a “hero” figure through her actions against Prince Cardan and the others in the Court of Faeries.

The Prince allegedly hates Jude most–until she discovers he loves her–but his love is fueled by hate? Do you see where I’m going with this? Yeah, it DOESN’T MAKE SENSE, NOR IS THIS HEALTHY. Friends. Fellow booklovers. This is not good writing. This is not good character development. This is not an interesting plot. Jude is not a “hero.” Cardan is not a true villain (because he does next-to-nothing) and isn’t someone to lust after. If this is the “best” of YA, then it’s a genre that I need to take large, censored steps away from. There is absolutely nothing to glean from a story like this. I’m being incredibly gracious and giving this book a half-star more than it deserves for the somewhat interesting world of Elfhame.

My Rating: ★1/2

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I am the author behind Foals, Fiction & Filigree. An all-encompassing blog about horses, books, and my art.

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