Review : The Cruel Prince by Holly Black


Jude was seven years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.


This first instalment in a Fae trilogy was absolutely enchanting. This is exactly what I needed to satisfy my need for a magical story about Fae after reading Sarah J. Maas’ inspired ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ series. I am completely addicted to all things faeries and seelies and this book did not disappoint.

Holly Black creates a faerie world full of magic and political intrigue. She managed to capture the maniacal beauty of the Fae without romanticising them. She captured the essence of their magic whilst portraying the bloodlust of faeries.

The story starts in the human world and we see the murder of Jude’s parents. Jude and her sisters are whisked away to the world of the faeries where Jude grows to love Madoc , despite killing her parents. She assimilates into this court and takes on their customs but is ever so aware of her mortality and humanity . She resents the faeries and starts a quest for power so that she cannot be enchanted ,but we can see that she longs to have the same power of these faeries. Jude is badass and strong willed , she would rather be the best fighter instead of marrying into faerie nobility.

Her character is shown through her feud with classmates Prince Cardan and his friends who despise her for being a human. This feud becomes rather problematic and there is a scene which made me uncomfortable. Cardan’s feud with Jude seems uncalled for and it seems that he enables his circle to commit cruel acts against Jude to please him. It was intriguing to see Cardan’s family life and whilst he was an absolute tool, his character really helped to drive the narrative and I cannot wait to see more of him.

The magic raises several problems and as a reader . I had to reconcile with the idea that this magic sometimes took away Jude’s free will and coerced her into harming or degrading herself. There is an instance in which Jude recounts her youngest adoptive sibling (Oak) using his faerie magic to control and hit herself. We then begin to understand why Jude takes her training so seriously, at first glance it seems that she aspires to be like her bloodthirsty adoptive father , but we can see that it is for self-preservation.

Jude reminds me of Arya and I absolutely love it, yes she is temperamental but she is brave and has a moral compass that many of the characters do not seem to have. Her twin sister , Taryn, is problematic and annoying to say the list. Jude is protective of her twin sister but looks at her through rose coloured glasses. Taryn wants to marry faerie nobility and her quest for social climbing leads her to idly standby whilst her twin is abused and bullied . That did not sit right with me at all , Taryn’s ambitions overshadow any desire to her sister’s safety and overall welfare . Without spoiling the story, we come to become very protective of Jude whilst she navigates life as a fighter , a human , a young woman and a spy in a faerie Court . We also root for her whilst she sparks a romance with a bad boy faerie and hope that she gets her happily ever after. This romance was not a primary narrative tool but worked so well in creating tension and angst. We also saw a softer side to Jude and this romance helped to remind us that above all she is just a teenage girl.

The politics in this story was incredible and created a whirlwind of twists and turns. It was like playing a game of chess and anybody could potentially be a pawn. The political climate is full of suspense and we finally see a great action scene in the final act of this story that had me gripped to my seat. I devoured the Court politics and loved the cameos by the faerie royal family. Even the relations between humans and faeries play a huge role in the politics , and it is interesting to see that despite being seen as inferior ,humans still play a crucial role in the very existence of faeries. However, humans are seen as second class and only have servant roles in this story.

The writing style in this novel was concise but Holly Black managed to capture the lyrical and poetic language of the faeries. It is easy to read and there are no random information dumps. Every sentence contributes to the larger narrative. The story is structured well and helps to create tension without unnecessarily prolonging the story. Holly Black also managed to create a LGBT+ friendly story by making Viv a bisexual , however we do not see much of Viv .

Overall, this story was incredible and I cannot wait for the sequel. I devoured this novel in one sitting and my only criticism is that I would have liked it to be longer.

Rating: 4/5



  1. I loved this book, it was totally awesome. I am a massive Holly Black fan, if I am terrible about getting around to reading all of her books. I was so excited for the release of this one and I am dying for the next book to be out already! I will say if you enjoy all things fae then maybe check out a couple of Black’s other books too. I really enjoyed The Darkest Part of the Forest and I hear her Tithe books are good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read any other Holly Black books but this book certainly made me want to go and read more! Thank you for the recommendations and thank you for your comment 💞


  2. This was also my first Holly Black book and also my first faeries book! And I and too really enjoyed it! I particularly liked the political schemes and the twist at the end. Great review! 🙂


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