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

Review by: Paige

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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: Having been a huge fan of Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest, I was elated when I heard that she would be delving into the world of the fae once again for a new trilogy. I could not be happier that this was the book I kicked off my 2018 with, because it was so spectacular it was almost unbelievably good. I haven’t felt attached to a series in so long, having gone through an unfortunate reading hiatus to focus on school, but this book reminded me of how wonderful and enthralling YA can be when it is stupefyingly fantastic.

I’m always impressed by authors who can put a depth of knowledge and proof of intense research on display without being too in-your-face about it. I’m even more impressed when that research is mythological in nature, and still flows seamlessly into the writing. While I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, Black established an incredibly complex world of incredibly complex characters effortlessly. I loved how Jude was unabashedly ambitious, cunning, unforgiving, and cutthroat. It was refreshing to see such a woman at the center of this series, someone who was humanized despite her cruelty but never forgiven for it. I think she has a lot of growing to do, some of which I believe will come at the hands of crushing defeats, and I am so excited to take that journey with her.

The tone of this novel was unexpectedly dark, though I’m not sure why I ever assumed it would be as light and airy as The Darkest Part of the Forest had been. While the atmosphere was not established the way I had hoped, the heady feeling this novel emanates was more than satisfying. The sentence structure was exquisite, the characters constantly shifting and keeping the reader on their toes, and though the plot somewhat predictable once you began to put all the right pieces into place, you’d be hard pressed to lose interest during this tale. It was phenomenal.

If you haven’t snatched up a copy of this book yet, do so immediately. It was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding reading experiences of my life, and it deserves every ounce of praise it has received. I cannot fathom that there is much for anyone to dislike within this glorious story.

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