BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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The odd thing about ambition is this: You can acquire it like a fever, but it is not so easy to shed.

My synopsis: Jude is a mortal living in Faerie, the land of immortals, protected and sheltered by the man who murdered her parents. Surrounded by betrayal and destruction and driven by ambition, Jude finds herself in the middle of it all and discovers the extent of what she is willing to do to find her place – including conniving with the ruthless, cruel prince. 

Published in January 2, 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genres: YA fantasy, dark fantasy

Themes: royalty, fey, immortality, being human, family, regicide, betrayal, murder, espionage, lying, evil plots, ambition

Series: The Folk of the Air #1

Upcoming: #2 The Wicked King (2019), #3 The King of Nothing (2020)

370 pages

BONUS: Interview with Holly Black – OWLCRATE EXCLUSIVE

Before, I never knew how far I would go. Now I believe I have the answer. I will go as far as there is to go. I will go way too far.

Riveting, dark, and wildly imagined – The Cruel Prince held me captive in the world of Faerie from its very first pages – despite my ready cynicism naturally borne from all the hype. Let me tell you now, it is worth ALL the hype and more.

I am new to Holly Black’s writing, apparently, she is dubbed The Faerie Queen. But after this, I am completely convinced that she deserves all the praises.

Faerie and the immortal creatures within it are equally dangerous, tempting, and seductive. Like Jude, the readers are just as easily drawn to the lush setting and the beautiful faeries.

Now tell me, which part was the lie? Did I lie at all? Because what’s so great about lying is the not knowing.

Politically charged and ingeniously plotted, Holly Black gives you the treasure chest, but never the key. She gives you the breadcrumbs, but by the end of it, you realize you’ve eaten all the bread, leaving you lost in the woods of Faerie. It shocks and distracts at every turn – and you can’t help but love being the fool.

As for the characters, they are extremely intriguing, with their complex motivations and ploys: not one can be easily loved or hated, not one deserving of absolute admiration or absolute despise. And the relationships between the characters are so original and unexpected, intricately woven and not easily unraveled.


Now I couldn’t just go on without discussing specifics – after all, it will probably be more than a year before I get to read the sequel.

  • Jude and Madoc

The first thing I appreciated is Jude’s relationship with Madoc. It breaks tradition, it’s not black and white. He murdered her parents, she should hate him. But he took them in and actually treated them as his own, not from any sort of ulterior motives (at least from what we know of, at this point). So she does love him, and hate him. And it’s hard to explain, and I love that.

  • Jude and Locke

Because you’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet. Because I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale.

Quite predictable, how this relationship turned out really. But I just think it’s curious that Locke set his sights on Jude from the get-go. It was as if before she even knew what she was capable of, he did. For a while, I thought he would be the mastermind of the whole treasonous plot, after all.

  • Jude and Taryn

They’re twins, but they fight A LOT. And I like the lack of loyalty. It’s unusual and unexpected. I like that Taryn doesn’t think twice about saving herself even though it means betraying Jude. I like that Jude does care, but she wasn’t such a pushover to leave Taryn guilt-free about the whole affair with Locke.

  • Jude and Cardan

But kissing Locke never felt the way that kissing Cardan does, like taking a dare to run over knives, like an adrenaline strike of lightning, like the moment when you’ve swum too far out in the sea and there is no going back, only cold black water closing over your head.

We all saw this one coming. From the cover, from the title page, from the very beginning. What I loved was when it actually came, there’s still that gray area. It wasn’t your average love-hate relationship. Cardoes DOES hate Jude. And Jude DOES hate Cardan. They don’t love each other – they lusted for each other. I can see this relationship developing, but I love where it stands right now.

  • Jude’s ruthlessness

Taking what we wish, indulging in every terrible thought. There’s safety in being awful.

She doesn’t flinch when she commits murder for the first time. She isn’t afraid of making the hard, arguably, the wrong choices.

I’m sure I ended up not listing everything I wanted to discuss, there are simply too many points – but if you’ve reached this point, THANK YOU!


P.S. I was surprised at how many quotes I highlighted, but if you’re curious, here’s a list of mine

If you’ve already read The Cruel Prince, did you love it, hate it?

What are some of the quotes you liked?

Obviously, I didn’t discuss EVERYTHING, so what did I miss? So keen to discuss this book, so PLEASE drop your thoughts in the comments or tag me or whatever! 

I like for things to happen, for stories to unfold. And if I can’t find a good enough story, I make one.

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5 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

  1. UGH I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BOOK AND IT’S RUINED ME AJFKDSAD. 😂😂 I just want the sequel?! I love how it ended and Jude is actually SO cunning it’s freaking fantastic. I love and hate Cardan, like?? You’re so right that it’s lust not love. And I almost feel they only think about each other that way because they’ve hated each other so long?! I’m so curious to know where it’ll go in the sequel. For a book about people who can’t lie, I feel like absolutely NO ONE told the truth at all.😂

    So so epic ahhh!! I’m flailing forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😂 right???! It was perfectly crafted, everyone and everything was misleading. And yeah, I think Cardan and Jude thought about each other so much it was inevitable to be each other’s object of lust 😂


  2. I loved Jude and Madoc’s relationship! Like you said it is super hard to explain but it just felt right. And Holly Black did such an amazing job of writing the dynamic between them. She makes you understand why she can’t help but love him and hate him at the same time. Its such a unique and wild relationship but she somehow makes it completely natural. I particularly loved the point where Jude realizes that Madoc let them have their grief when he first took them away. How he could have magicked them to be quiet, because traveling with three bawling girls couldn’t have been easy, but he didn’t. And how he obviously loves them in his own way. It may have started out as his duty to raise them, but it was so apparent to everyone that he honestly cared for them!

    Liked by 1 person

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