Do you ever know with such certainty that you’re going to absolutely LOVE a book, but then, very sadly, end up feeling a little let down after you read it?
Unfortunately, that’s what happened to me with The Cruel Prince.
I really wanted to love this, friends. I mean, it has faeries, morally gray characters, and the enemies to lovers trope so I thought it was a guarantee that it’d become a favorite of mine. Overall, though, I ended up feeling very, very neutral about this book.
But let’s get in to why I felt this way (and also talk about how much I love the main character, despite everything else):
Title: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
Author: Holly Black
Publication: January 2nd, 2018
Synopsis: 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. (Source: Goodreads)
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
As a whole, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book and, in particular, the plot. I could definitely see the potential for an excellent storyline in here somewhere, but I just never became totally immersed in it. Which was so unfortunate because I wanted to. I wanted to so badly.
To me, it felt like the plot was sort of jumpy and all over the place. It made it really difficult to follow the direction of the storyline. Along with that, I personally found this book to be rather slow moving, especially at the beginning. It took a while for me to start getting in to it.
The thing is, though, I do think the scattered storyline and slower pacing fit the overall tone of this book very well. It made everything feel precarious and uncertain, like you weren’t meant to follow the direction of the characters or the story. Plus, the gradual build up of events did lead to a wild ending that caught me off guard. I truly liked that a lot. I just wish the plot had stayed consistently interesting throughout.
Yet while I didn’t find the plot to be great all the way through, there were parts I enjoyed a lot. At the end, for example, I was on the edge of my seat because of those last few chapters. I thought the conclusion was excellent, but at the same time, I did feel that the “twist” was predictable. The ending was shocking at first but was also a little bit of a let down.
This plot wasn’t exactly what I was expecting going in, and although I didn’t totally love it, I think it was more of a personal preference than anything. I can recognize that it was nicely done and well written. The complexity of this storyline stands out, but it simply wasn’t for me.
➤Jude: Okay. I was not ready for Jude. Her character arc was beyond outstanding. How she started out “good,” but then slowly transitioned in to this cunning badass, outsmarting faeries left and right? Truly legendary. If there’s one thing I wholeheartedly loved about this book, it’s Jude and all her complexity.
“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”
➤Cardan: I know Cardan is well-loved. I know I expected to love reading about him (he’s a morally questionable royal faerie!!), but I just personally didn’t find him that great. I really wish he had been more well-developed. I doubt I’ll ever love him, but I’m keeping an open-mind about him because I see the potential for his character to become more interesting.
➤Taryn: Again, I didn’t care for Jude’s twin and didn’t form any super strong opinions about her either. Taryn is manipulating and suspicious, and a wonderfully written character, but I gotta say I didn’t like her all that much.
➤Vivienne: YES. I did like Vivi. I don’t know if I’m speaking too soon, but she seems like the only one who’s somewhat kindhearted among all these morally gray characters? Which is interesting. I also love how she’s the one who felt more inclined to the mortal world even though she’s the faerie. She’s great.
➤Locke: NO THANK YOU
➤Madoc: I wanted to understand Madoc. I really wanted to like him like other people seem to. But… I just didn’t see him as redeemable, even though there were some scenes where we see saw him in a different light. Despite all that, I do think he’s very complex and well-written. I’d be interested to see if my feelings about him change later
There were also several other characters I could talk about (Orianna, Oak, the rest of the Greenbriar siblings, etc) but I continued to feel indifferent about the rest of this cast. I won’t continue boring you with my neutral thoughts, so lets move oooon.
Again, this is another one of those things where it’s not the book, it’s me. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not connect with the writing style. It was alluring in a way, and the descriptions were quite beautiful, but Jude’s narration was incredibly dull in my opinion. I mean, maybe it was supposed to be, to fit her arc or something? I just remember there being instances where something surprising was meant to happen, but because the writing was monotone, it ended up being… anticlimatic. That ruined the flow of the story for me as well.
But I genuinely do think Holly Black is an excellent author. I mean, even though I didn’t like Jude’s narration, I still loved her. That has to say something, right? And Black was definitely able to create some vivid imagery of this world she built with her descriptive writing. I could totally picture the beautiful intricacies of Faerie.
This was my first book I’ve ever read by Holly Black (well, besides The Spiderwick Chronicles way back in the day), and while I didn’t fall in love with her writing, I do think it’s something I can grow accustomed to. I own one of her other novels (The Darkest Part of the Forest) so I’m interested to see if I’ll end up liking that one? We shall seeeeee.
Overall, this was a very solid 3-star-read for me. I didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, and generally had a range of mixed feelings. The plot, the characters, and the writing style were lacking to me, but I didn’t find myself hating any of it. In fact, I felt so neutral about this book that I still can’t form any strong opinions about it either way. And I’m okay with that. I liked it enough and I’ll stick by that.
But if anything, Jude made this entire book for me. I felt like Cardan and all I could think about was Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude Jude. I just wanted to read about her at all times and she’s the main reason I didn’t see this book in a totally negative way. What an icon!
As of right now, I do plan to read The Wicked King. I didn’t feel the need to pick it up immediately after this book, but I do want to read it eventually
for Jude to see where the rest of this story is going.
I’d love to know
Have you read The Cruel Prince? What did you think? Do you love Jude as much as I do?!