Books, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Title: The Cruel Prince

Author: Holly Black

Pages: 373

Series: The Folk of the Air

Goodreads Link

Authors’ Other Works: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, The Darkest Part of the Forest, The Modern Faerie Tales, Magisterium Series, Curse Workers Series, etc


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 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.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.

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This was me…

Charging into this book like a fool.

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Heart wide open for the killing blow.

And I was shown absolutely no mercy…

This book started off my reading this year. AND IT STARTED IT OFF GOOD!

Now, I have enjoyed 2 of Holly Black’s previous books so I went into this one expecting the same level of amazingness. The Queen delivered. I am most pleased.

This book has fae, so, hi! Here I am! No one’s all that surprised there! But this book was promised as a book that would make you feel all the emotions and leave you crying. Which it did!

IT ALSO STABBED ME RIGHT IN THE CHEST! Much like what happens on page 241.

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Plot, World And ALL That Good Stuff!

This story takes place in Elfhame, the home of the fae. And all the humans live across the pond… or sea. Or whatever floats your boat.

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But this is no medieval world. Oh no. The main character goes with her sisters to a mall for coffee. Which honestly is such a comfort?? If I get dragged into a supernatural world where everything might just kill me if I breathe wrong, then I’d be really happy to just pop back and grab a coffee every now and then.

Like, I’ll save the land and all its inhabitants in a hot second, just let me have my coffee and we’re good to go. *long sip* PREPARE TO BE SAVED!

Intriguingly in this world of fae there isn’t just the pointy-eared hot stuff fae, there are also different species that all come under the name faerie. There’s the normal fae dudes who we know and love, the Undersea folk – they literally live under the sea like fishies- but they’re not fishies, the blood caps, the goblins, pixies, imps, ogres, etc.

All as horrifically beautiful as the next, and wouldn’t even hesitate to offer you a “scrumptious” berry that will definitely not turn you into a toad. LOVELY! I LOVE IT!

We experience this tale through Jude’s point of view and my gosh was it entertaining.

So, Jude’s parents were murdered and she was brought up by Madoc (her parents murderer and new father) in the land of faerie. Her and her twin sister Taryn attend lectures (YAY FOR A MINOR SCHOOL SETTING!) with the rest of the gentry’s children. And it is there we meet THE CARDAN GREENBRIAR!

Who is very mean to Jude and her sister…

BUT THE PLOT! *whispers* I’ll scream about the characters in a second.

I loved the way that everything that was seemingly unrelated all tied together neatly at the end. Obviously, I won’t spoil anything, but… whew! You think the story is going to go one way, but then it takes a secret path through the dark, ancient woods that you wouldn’t dare peer into longer than a second and then it WHACKS YOU IN THE FACE!

It was just… every one seemed to have a solid plan for how they would survive and end up on top. But then… THERE’S ALWAYS THAT ONE DUDE! WHO HAS THE BETTER PLAN AND LAUGHS AS THEY SIT ON TOP LIKE; ” MWHAHAHAHAAHA! YOU REalLy ThOUgHt YoUr pLAn WoULd WOoooOoOOOOOOrK?!?!?!? AGAINST ME?!?”

Basically, there’s always a secret schemer that will out-scheme the schemer.

I literally couldn’t even guess how it was going to come to a close. I know it left people hungry and wailing for more, but I was like “?? Is everyone just going to get killed?? Is that the twist??”

I mean… I wasn’t far off… a lot of folk died in just 373 pages. and most of it was in 5 pages

The pacing was fast but also slow where it needed to be, but also F A S T!

I genuinely loved the whole story, but to go into depth would mean to spoil things, so I leave you with, askgjdkbrjhvgbhjhzbvchdv, IT WAS SO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!


Jude Duarte

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I ADORED Jude’s narrative! It was so strong?? Like I felt empowered? And I’m the biggest wimp around, but I was sitting there like, “YEAH I’D DO THAT TOO!”

Would I really??

But can you imagine being a human in faerie? Where you’re just innocently trying your best to practice your stabbing for the courts, and all the faeries are just sneering at you and plotting to control your mind.

And you couldn’t do anything about it if they got you. You’d be blissfully and joyfully munching on leaves like “YUMMY, SCRUMMY, CRUNCHY CRISPS!”

Terrifying, mortifying, no thank you.

And Jude herself is scared. She is humanly mortal of course, and could be easily influenced by fae magic if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

But Jude.

Our Jude, is ruthless!

If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.

-Jude Duarte, The Cruel Prince, Page 210

Jude went from “Yeah. That’s right. I grew up learning how to stab properly!”


“I always end up stabbing at least 3 people every day… all before breakfast. *annoyed sigh*”

*Cardan with shaking hands, pulls out a Valentines card*

I loved Jude as a protagonist and am super excited to read mooooore! She has such a strong voice and presence on the page and in this world, and I don’t doubt that she will become even stronger still.

“I am going to keep on defying you. I am going to shame you with my defiance. You remind me that I am a mere mortal and you are a Prince of Faerie. Well, let me remind you that means you have much to lose and I have nothing. You may win in the end, you may ensorcell me and hurt me and humiliate me, but I will make sure you lose everything I can take from you on the way down. I promise you this” – I throw his own words back at him- “this is the least of what I can do.”

-Jude Duarte, The Cruel Prince, Page 76-77

I love her so much.

Cardan Greenbriar

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The title of this book. It captures Cardan PERFECTLY! If I was in Jude’s place in even half of the scenes she’s in with this dude and he was my enemy I’d probably cry and run away to live in the swamps.

But that’s just me. A hermit that dislikes confrontation.


A precious boi.

If I though Jude had page presence… which she does. But where she has a smart, powerful presence, Cardan has the most dramatic, angsty page presence that I’ve ever read and I am here for it.

There are a few points in this book where you just want to cry for him. Despite how horrible he assures people he is, you can’t help but feel sorry for him.

ALL HE WANTS IS WINE AND JU- “NO I DON’T!!!! SHE’S MORTAL! NOTHING MORE THAN A WORM WRITHING IN DIRT!! HER EXISTENCE INSULTS ME!” He screams in rage. *Jude appears with a knife* “Oh hai Jude, you look horrible. ❤ ”

While Cardan is not much help with a sword (which is why it’s a good thing Jude is there to save him) he is a charming and sneaky prince.

I am expecting to find Cardan as I left him, cowed and quiet, perhaps even more miserable than before. Instead, his hands have been untied, and his is at the table, playing cards with the Roach, the Ghost – and the Bomb. At the center are a pile of jewels and a jug of wine. Two empty bottles rest beneath the table.

– The Cruel Prince, Page 298

The romance basically went like this:

Cardan when he discovered that he had a mild obsession with Jude and that is might be love:

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Jude @ her brain, when her brain told her that she liked the Devastatingly Beautiful Prince Cardan a lot more than just an appreciation for his looks and overall glorious, dark aesthetic:

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BUT Jude and Cardan are the BIG SHIP! AND I COULD SEE IT! I SEE WHAT YOU WERE ALL SCREAMING ABOUT NOW! Both of them were evil, devious geniuses that really wanted to be number 1 in this race. And if they were to join forces…

It would be over for the whole of Faerie…

They’d be so powerful… I love.

Taryn Duarte

Jude’s twin sister. Fellow mortal kidnapped to the land of Faerie.

To be completely honest, I didn’t mind Taryn in the beginning. She was just kind of there and I had no problem with her, but as the book went on I just didn’t really like her?? I felt like her behaviours were quite petty in the grand scheme of things. But that could be because we saw everything from Jude’s point of view and so Taryn’s actions kind of … got in the way? And she knew she was getting in the way? And she was tricksy and making things hard for Jude on purpose?? Just because she wanted something??

She basically traded in Jude for someone else who really wasn’t worth it. Like at all.

And since I have read the next few books in the series, I can tell you that I didn’t like her even a little bit until Queen of Nothing. I didn’t love her then, but she wasn’t as annoying? Or rude?

The Ghost, The Roach and The Bomb

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Now I love me some underground spy groups. And I love almost every element of a spy network being included in a book, just… being everywhere, hearing and seeing everything. Amazing. See example:

“I DIDN’T EAT THAT CAKE!” Screamed Steve, who was facing charges of treason for the very crime he says he did not commit.

The Queen sat upon her throne, tears rolling down her face. “Well…” She beckons to a small girl, who had been standing in the shadows.

The girl cleared her throat, loudly unfolding a piece of paper. “This morning, at dawn, Lord Steve was seen, by myself, retreating into a storage cupboard, attempting to shield a plate containing the last slice of chocolate frosted cake left over from last nights revel. He was then later seen with frosting around his mouth by palace staff.”

“TAKE HIM AWAY!” The Queen screamed, as horror took over Lord Steve’s features the longer the Girl spoke.

He spent his last moments being dragged away, screaming at the top of his lungs about how delicious that cake was, leaving the Queen a weeping mess.

So, I love spy networks. I love it when they know stuff that the Bad Guys are so sure no one else knows, but actually all the spies know. They even know what colour underwear they’re wearing. There are no secrets when there are spies.


Small yet extremely effective spy groups. Which is exactly what we got here. And I devoured it with upmost joy.

The Ghost – is exactly what you’d expect from someone who is called Ghost, he is stealthy. Very quiet and yet fast. You wouldn’t even know he’s there until you have a crossbow bolt embedded in your chest.

The Roach – is a lean, mean, goblin fighting machine! Except he specialises in picking pockets. Like the precious treasure he is.

Speaking of precious…

The Bomb – also a master pick pocket! The first scene we see her in she is picking a pocket. She also likes making explosives and unsurprisingly likes making this explode. A true icon.


This whole book I was rooting for Jude and hoping she gets her epic revenge. Like, I’m sure Nicasia has had a rough time, and I don’t doubt that here might be a backstory that eases my dislike. She just seemed to be out for blood all the time, and then would be all shocked the Jude doesn’t just lay down and die when she’d told??



Locke who? I didn’t like him from the start. He just like, watched/participated in Jude and Taryn’s suffering this whole time and laughed along with everyone, but then suddenly he wanted to be involved in everything. And then he was all nice to them. I found it all suspicious. Very suspicious.

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And then I got to that “test of love” crap. No. Get out.


Now, I liked Madoc. Despite the parent murdering at the beginning, he did alright by the two human children that his wife had with another man. He gave them a home and brought them up as his own. He taught them how to fight with swords, so in a way we have him to thank for our Queen of the Stab Jude.


I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE! While Jude and Taryn adapted to Faerie and having Madoc as a father figure, Vivi – Madoc’s actual biological child – was having none of it. Go to lectures? No. Come down stairs to dinner with the family? No. *Madoc asks Vivi to do something* *Vivi does the complete opposite out of spite*

I loved that she felt such a responsibility for her younger sisters and took them to the human world every once in a while, and ultimately tried to get them out of Faerie when it got dangerous.

She was a character with such epic snark but she emitted such a homely vibe, which I whole heartadly adore. I think Vivi might be the one character from this book that’s on top of the “Character’s I’d Feel Safe Befriending List.”


Since I binge read all 3 of these books within like 4 days, I am having trouble separating most of the events into their separate books, I could only write this review because I wrote 6 pages of notes straight after finishing The Cruel Prince.


Something else I loved!



I loved The Darkest Part of the Forest when I read it in January 2019, and I loved The Cruel Prince in January 2020… Am I unconsciously making it a tradition to read Holly Black at the beginning of the year?? I mean. It starts the year of good so why not!

But I was absolutely delighted to discover that the worlds from these two books were connected. And I was even more happy to find that Severin and Ben are still together and hitting me in the heart with all the feels.


To wrap up this messy, messy review –

I rate The Cruel Prince 5 out of 5 Stars!


Let's Chat

Have you read The Cruel Prince yet?? What did you think about it?? Have you read any of Holly Black’s other work???