The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | Review

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Trigger Warnings: abuse (graphic), suicide, bullying, murder, alcoholism. 

Pages: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Review: here

Goodreads blurb:

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.


I had some pretty high expectations going into The Cruel Prince. I said I would stop buying into the hype but as if that’s actually true. I am so glad that it fit all the expectations I had for it! I don’t think I’ve seen a single bad review for The Cruel Prince since the ARCs started being distributed. Quite literally every single one of my friends on Goodreads has loved it. I had a few problems throughout the book, which I will get in to later and a problem that comes from the reviews I read.

The Cruel Prince is a dark twisting tale that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I truly wasn’t expecting what happened at all throughout the novel. At some points I thought I was finally getting a grasp on the plot, but nope. I can tell that this is a book I could re-read hundreds of times and pick up new things each time – the sign of a great book in my opinion.

It was strange the start the year off with a book that doesn’t fit into a traditional YA book. It was too dark for me to really class it as that, honestly. With the motives and the violence throughout the book, I’m not sure it would be suited for a younger audience. Though, I did love the fact it was urban fantasy and not high fantasy. I love when there’s a clear line between the fantasy and the mortal world in books, so I was incredibly intrigued to see how it was going to work throughout The Cruel Prince. 

However, I did enjoy watching Jude try and navigate the inner workings of Faerie. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of familial vibe throughout, I feel that could have been better worked into the plot as I would have liked to see Jude interact with her sisters (Taryn and Vivi) more. Jude did seem like a bit of a naive character at first, I wasn’t sure if I was exactly on her side. But, as The Cruel Prince continues we get to see there are further layers underneath the original one. My favourite character to learn more about was Cardan. Who, I’m not even sure how to view. The book ended and I was like ‘wait, that’s it?’ I instantly wanted to see how his character would develop further to tackle the problems that lay ahead in this novel.

The dark undertones throughout the book definitely provide an anti-villain theme for the characters throughout, especially with the events that occur towards the end of the book – without saying too much. The flawed characters who make mistakes definitely enforce this opinion that little bit more.

Actually, Holly Black manages to give every single character a depth. No one is how they once appear and the more you learn about them the more I am so glad that this world does not exist. It was such a complex and dark world filled with such intense politics and familial battles. I’m truly not even sure I got a grasp on all the characters and concepts.

Her writing is almost flawless with the way it captivates you, the descriptions are absolutely enchanting. A big problem I had with the novel was how confusing the beginning was. It took me a bit to fall into the novel, but once I was in I was hooked. But, that first 20% left me debating whether or not I should DNF and cut my losses. I am so glad I didn’t. I also did take away a star because I guessed a couple things and wasn’t impressed by the relationship between sisters Taryn and Jude. 

The other problem I have doesn’t even fall into the text. It does with reviewers. I’ve seen a lot of reviews for The Cruel Prince and not a single one mentioned the abuse that happens. It is incredibly graphic and I was speechless. I do urge everyone who reads this book to include this trigger because I was not prepared at all.

Overall, this was a complex novel. A lot of it did feel like filler and setting us up for the next book but it was incredibly fantastic. Holly Black is a master of words in The Cruel Prince, her adjectives and scenarios create such a vivid picture that I can’t help but recommend this book. Especially if you can push past the confusing beginning!

Happy reading everyone!

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