The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’m so excited to talk to you about this book! I think this series will be one of my favourite series of all time!

Themes: fantasy, romance, revenge, politics, assassin, betrayal

The synopsis

Jude’s life is changed forever when her parents are murdered in front of her and she’s then taken with her sisters by their assassin. They are brought up in the Faerie court even though only the oldest sister Vivi is a Fae. Jude’s decides she wants to be as good as any of them and begins a quest for power, the only thing she think can earn her respect. But power comes at a cost and she will have to deceive, lie and plot to obtain it. And to cross path with the arrogant Prince Carden.

The review

I’ve recently come again into reading after a reading slump of a few years. While I was looking for the recent fantasy books I had missed I heard on Booktube a lot of good reviews about this one. The plot seemed to be interesting and all reviews agreed on the fact that the heroine was a bit unconventionnal so I was impatient to read it. And I was not disappointed.

The Cruel Prince has literally everything I’m usually looking for in a book. The world-building is absolutely perfect thanks to a magical, beautiful writting. It reminded me a lot of the one you can find in fairytales and I could perfectly picture the world thanks to it. This world is as dangerous as the people and creatures living in it. Nothing is as it appears and even the characters are deceitful, manipulative and totally unreliable. I absolutely adore Jude who is more Fae than human and so takes decisions they could take. She’s ambitious, terribly cunning and her only goal is to acquire power since it’s what is respected in the Faerie Court. She’s also naive at some points and manipulative at others. This latter trait was one of my favourite things about her, having for once a truly strong heroine against the ones who want to be badass but are in fact very conventionnal, not taking a lot of risks especially with morality. Holly Black also shows that every people thinks about bad things, that this is a human thing but what matters is not what you think but what you decide to do.

At first I really disliked Cardan since he was such a bully towards Jude and her sister. But he’s the definition of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. I’m not saying he’s the classic bad boy who’s in fact the kindest person ever, not at all. Because he’s a Fae and moreover a Fae prince, Cardan is manipulative, ruthless and cruel (it’s in the title after all). But he has a past we discover a bit in the story which made me understand him a little more. He and Jude are really complementary since she’s the only one foolish enough to provoke him and even playing him, which makes her his equal in terms of character.

The characters are as complex as the plot, which evolves around the politics of Elfhame. This politics is a mirror of the Fae people and is very complex with different protagonists, Courts (the partisans of a royal) and realms. But the writting is so fluid that the reader has no issues to grasp the interests at stake. And the plot-twists… Oh God! Everytime something happened I was ready to put down the book a bit, thinking that it’ll be more calm for a moment but no! It’s one betrayal after another, the all followed by a plot-twist.

In brief: an absolute favourite of mine, full of action, plot-twists and betrayals. The characters are ambitious but not always Manichean, “good” or “bad”. A perfect heroine, a true woman of character, ready to make sacrifices, betray or take grey decisions to achieve her goals. I haven’t planned to read the sequel right after but this series is so good that the book is on its way.

I leave you with a quote I think is very true:

There’s no point in fighting if you’re not intending to win

The Cruel Prince – Madoc

My rating: 5/5

Trigger-warnings: murder, bullying

Note: this book is the first of a trilogy

6 thoughts on “The Cruel Prince by Holly Black”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s