Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
“Nice things don’t happen in story books,” Taryn says. “Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”
I’ve read a lot of Holly Black’s novels, but The Cruel Prince has instantly become my favourite. We follow Jude – a mortal girl living in a Faerie world – on her quest to become a permanent subject of the High Court, a goal that she can achieve either through marriage or by honing a great skill. Jude is good with a sword, but her adoptive father Madoc (who only adopted her after brutally slaughtering her parents while retrieving his stolen daughter, Jude’s older sister Vivi) refuses to let her try to get a knighthood.
Luckily, Jude’s skill impresses Prince Dain: the man who is soon to become High King of Elfhame. He offers her a position as one of his spies, a position that he believes she will suit due to her mortal ability to lie. Jude accepts. If she can’t be a knight, she can at least get power some other way. But being a spy isn’t as straightforward as it seems, and Jude is quickly thrown into a world of lying, deception and murder.
The Cruel Prince is split into two books. Book two is far shorter, but it’s also the reason I gave this book five stars: shit goes DOWN. I was majorly impressed by the twist, even though I’d seen a lot of people on Goodreads updating their reading progress in shock when they hit a particular percentage mark. If it hadn’t been for that I wouldn’t have seen it coming, so if you haven’t already seen people flailing about a certain scene, pick up The Cruel Prince before you do.
I will admit, things move a little slowly at the beginning, but it’s worth persevering. You will not be disappointed. In the past I’ve been impressed with Black’s novels, but I’ve never been gripped and I’ve often found them quite forgettable. The same cannot be said about The Cruel Prince. It’s a step up from The Darkest Part of the Forest, even though it also focuses on faeries (and is said to be part of the same world, although they seem unconnected). I’m dying for the sequel to be released, even though I know it’s not going to be hitting the shelves until next year.
The characters are brilliant, the plot is intricate yet not over complicated, and the world is so easy to imagine. I would love to see an adaptation of this novel, because all of the scenes were painted vividly in my mind. That’s not an easy achievement, but I genuinely felt as though I was falling into a movie every time I picked it up.
If you haven’t read any of Holly Black’s other novels, this is the place to start. If you’re a huge fan of faeries, but think that you’ve read it all before, you’ll be as shocked as I was by the majority of the events in The Cruel Prince. I cannot recommend this title enough.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Cruel Prince, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!