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The Cruel Prince


The Cruel Prince

There is a reason that author Holly Black holds the title of the “Queen of the Fairies.”  She indeed has mastered the Fae world --- just look at THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST and her series Modern Faerie Tales --- it is clear that her title is well-deserved and more than appreciated by her fans.

It is always a bit scary to wait for a favorite author to release a new book after what feels like forever, but with 2018’s THE CRUEL PRINCE, Black does not disappoint. THE CRUEL PRINCE is a refreshing view on the world she has already seemed to have established. In this book, the fae aren’t just beautiful and magical creatures, they’re also cunning, greedy and, at times, even monstrous.

"THE CRUEL PRINCE puts into question human morality and any fan of Sarah J. Mass or Cassandra Clare is sure to fall in love with Holly Black’s lush way of writing."

Black clearly knows her audience and their hunger for action, as she immediately starts her book with the murder of Jude’s parents and follows Jude and her sisters as they are stolen away to live in the High Court of Faerie. Contrasting to her previous Faerie books where a human is thrust into the Fae world, Jude and her twin sister, Taryn, grow up in the Fae world and want nothing more than to be accepted by them. But Faerie politics are not kind, and being a human in the Gentry class of the Faes only opens more doors for Fae cruelty. Especially from Prince Cardon, who seems hell-bent on making Jude’s life a living hell.

Black continues to captivate her audience with her expert character building. With Jude, she has not only created a strong female character, but has shown humanity at its core. Ambitious, greedy, impulsive --- Jude seems to have all of humanity’s worst qualities. Yet, nothing she (or any of the other characters) does is ever out of character. This stretches to nearly everyone in the book, as Black is able to explain and give backstory to the characters, while not making excuses for any of their actions --- even our narrator.

While Taryn’s tactic seems to be keeping her head down, Jude’s tends to be a little more...violent. This, of course, only makes the Fae kids at her daily lectures come down on her twice as hard. So when she’s given the opportunity to get the power she has tried so hard to get, she takes it. Of course, power comes at a cost, and Jude finds herself having to make choices that not only goes against her morality, but also against Faerie law.

Nothing about Jude’s story is predictable. It’s not a “he messes with her because he’s secretly in love with her” story because the reader is never quite sure who the titular Cruel Prince is. Is Cardon the Cruel Prince?  Who is Holly Black referring to?  One can only make assumptions --- many assumptions.

This book has come at just the right time as 2017 was packed with compelling contemporary, so what better way to enter 2018 than with a bit of Faerie fantasy? Readers are sure to get lost within Holly Black’s world once again, and some of their favorite characters from her other books might even make an appearance. Anyone wonder what Severin and Ben are up to?

A dark, compelling fantasy, THE CRUEL PRINCE puts into question human morality and any fan of Sarah J. Mass or Cassandra Clare is sure to fall in love with Holly Black’s lush way of writing.

Reviewed by Sabina Z., Teen Board Member on January 10, 2018

The Cruel Prince
by Holly Black

  • Publication Date: December 4, 2018
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult 13+
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 031631031X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316310314