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“The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black Book Review

Book: The Cruel Prince

Author: Holly Black

Series: Book #1 of The Folk of the Air

First published January 2, 2018

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Any fan of the fantasy genre cannot miss this series by Holly Black. “The Cruel Prince” is a book that I have personally been putting off for almost two years. My first encounter with the author was with “Book of Night” and I was very impressed, which sparked my interest in her other books.

“The Cruel Prince” is the first book in “The Folk of the Air” series by Holly Black. It was published in 2018.

The story of the human child who joins the magical people

The plot revolves around the fate of 3 children who are forced by circumstances to live with the elven people. Twins Jude and Taryn are not gifted with magical powers and their life becomes a nightmare among the inhabitants of the Court of Faerie. The two are constantly bullied by their classmates, although they enjoy the protection of their guardian.

We follow Jude’s journey from submissiveness and not raising her head to absolute rebelliousness, which introduces the more interesting part of the story. The girls’ only desire is to take their well-deserved place among the magical people, though they have different ideas about how to achieve that. Jude’s journey involves them in complex intrigues to determine the heir to the throne.

The Courts of Faerie

The world of the elves is described quite fabulously by Holly Black. There is magic and strange creatures that inhabit the lands of the magical people. The fairies themselves have distinctive features, such as vertical cat-like pupils, tails, horns, and other animal-like features. The courts of the fairies are a land where savagery ensures dominance over others. Peoples are united under the rule of a king, and those who rebel pay with their lives. To me, the fairy world has always been exactly as Holly Black describes it. Fairies are mysterious, mendacious creatures who always find a way to twist your words and put you under their spell.

The relationship between the world of humans and the world of elves is quite complex. Very often people find themselves in the captivity of the elves. One bad deal and you can find yourself in someone’s palace, mopping the floor until you pass out and can not remember anything. In the courts of the elves, humans are inferior creatures and are treated as such.

The Cruel Prince, or rather the evil one

Although I find the whole story charming, there are things that I do not like. The title makes me think of a rather brutal plot direction. The beginning was strong and I assumed Holly Black would continue in that direction – by beginning I mean the first chapter. But then the focus was too much on a type of high school behavior that is not to my taste. Yes, the book is a young adult book, but I found it too much.

Cardan as a character was not very consistent for me. From the beginning Holly Black hammered into us how cruel the little prince was, but this image was not properly protected. My expectations for this portrayal were higher and I was a bit disappointed.

With Jude, I like the end result. I like the idea of showing why the character is the way she has become. In her case, it’s her childhood, which reflects her desire to be invulnerable. There’s a great contrast with her sister who, despite the same fate, prefers to be protected. Jude wants to be the best to prove herself as a full member of this society. However, there was also a lot of filler to play this picture. We went from the initial state to the final product pretty quickly.

As for the plot, we have to be realistic that this is, after all, the first volume of a series and there is always an element of introduction to the whole situation. Personally, I found the last part of the book the most interesting and read it with great interest. Perhaps Holly Black should have started with this ghost from the beginning instead of relying on the high school relationship. Especially considering the ending, I think the book has a lot of filler scenes.

Rating for The Cruel Prince

My rating for “The Cruel Prince” is between 3 and 3.5 stars. More like a 3 because of the crappy beginning and a higher because of the ending, which is definitely Holly Black’s strong suit.

More reviews from the series:

The Wicked King

The Queen of Nothing

The Cruel Prince

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.


Hello, my name is Todora, but now also known as Dochka or Docheto. I have two wonderful dragons at home (boys ages 5 and 7) that I am trying to raise in the love of books. I was quite a chatterbox as a kid when I had required reading in school, and now I am trying to make up for it. I love reading fantasy, sweet endings are not my "thing". I love it when there are struggles, intrigue, and surprises in a book that shake you to your core. If I fell into paranoia that all the characters were traitors, my rating would be 5 stars. In short, I love to read and if one day I find a way to make this my sole occupation and get paid for it :D, I will have stumbled into heaven.

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