Fantasy, Young Adult

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air Series #1) by Holly Black ...

Pages: 370

Series: The Folk of the Air #1

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Genre(s): Fantasy with Romantic Elements

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

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.”

What Did I Think?

I was totally down for some fey folktale reading when I hit this book up, and it did not disappoint. Other readers have said that Holly Black’s fey worlds are virtually unmatched, and after reading this book, I can see why! I love how Black’s writing style matches the whimsical setting she’s writing about, as well as all the beautiful world-building she manages to do in just a few short chapters. I was totally entranced when learning about the grandiose lifestyles of the fey, which made up for my lack of love towards a good many of those that lived there (sorry not sorry to say, because some of them are JERKS). I also thought the family tree situation was intriguing (and slightly depressing), particularly when we learn how Jude and her sisters ended up with Madoc in the first place. As a whole, I thought the overall concept of The Cruel Prince was unique and well constructed.

*Let me just preface this section of my review by saying that these characters weren’t exactly my cup of tea. Sure, I enjoyed some elements of a good many of them, but overall, I struggled to connect and appreciate their personalities (I know, I’m terrible, but bear with me and hear me out, kayy kayy?).*

Let’s start with Jude. One of the things I really admired about Jude was the fact that she was quick to stand up for herself and her family when the fey would talk smack about them, as well as her willingness to fight for those in a place she wasn’t even born in (and, at times, doesn’t even particularly like). Even though Jude is a human living in Faerie, she fiercely tries to make it the best place it can be when push comes to shove. I found myself appreciating the fact that she was a total spitfire and was quick to follow her instincts, even when others tried to dissuade her from what she believed to be true. However, I have to say that the biggest issue I had with Jude was her jealously of the fey. At first I thought, “Okay, this makes sense. They have a lot of things she never will,” but this point came up so much that it made her seem immature, when for the rest of the book, I thought her characterization made her more mature than most people her age would have been. This was more of an issue of moderation for me, rather than just not understanding or liking the fact that Jude was jealous of the Fae. Other than that, I found Jude’s character appealing, and I look forward to seeing how her character evolves in the next book.

Oh, Cardan. One of my least favorite tropes in YA basically sums up (almost) the entirety of his character: the misunderstood male character. Ughh. While I think the goal was to show that Cardan isn’t as cruel as he appears at face-value, the damage was already kind of done by the time I realized this was the point of his character. I didn’t find myself wanting to know all that much about him because he just seemed to be a terrible dude. However, a trait I did find myself appreciating was the fact that he would secretly perform acts of kindness for other people — at least then I knew he really did have a heart in there, which was questionable for a good chunk of the book. I also have to point out that he has a pretty dope fashion sense that I couldn’t help but admire, so here’s to hope that saving grace continues to be around in the next book! I’m also hoping (begging, really) for some development and more background on Cardan so then I can sympathize and, heck, maybe even like the guy by the end of the series.

While I had some issues with the main characters, I thought the supporting characters were awesome! Madoc has so many layers to him, and I look forward to seeing how his character keeps progressing as the series goes on, particularly when it comes to his relationship with Jude. I also found myself really enjoying learning more about Jude’s sisters, Vivi and Taryn and seeing how they react so differently to each of the events that took place.

One of the major issues I had with this book were the romances. I didn’t feel invested in who was with who, and in some cases, I found the partnerships completely unhealthy for both individuals involved. I’m definitely looking for more development here in the other books in the Folk of the Air series because I’m always look for more couple to make ship names for, but at this point in time, the romance is a no-go for me.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading The Cruel Prince. I’m a sucker for books about fey, and this book totally fulfilled my dream of learning more about them and the super magical lives they live. The plot was fast-paced, and the plot twists were very well positioned — I never knew when they were coming! With the exception of a few (somewhat large, now that I reflect?) issues, I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince and I’m looking forward to continuing this highly-loved series!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you’re like me and looking for a book that takes place in a magical world full of fey, I’d highly recommend this book to you!

I’d also suggest fans of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series give The Cruel Prince a shot.

Bonus Content

8 Books Sure to Put You in the Summer Spirit

There’s nothing I find more relaxing than sitting in the sunshine with my nose in a good book. With summer quickly approaching, I couldn’t think of a better time than now to throw some summery book recommendations your way! Regardless of if you’re about to head out on an island getaway or just enjoying the warmer days from your own backyard, here are some books that are sure to make the perfect companion for your summer adventures!

1) Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Amazon.com: Moonglass (9781442416956): Kirby, Jessi: Books

I chose Moonglass for this list because it’s an emotional, raw, hit-you-in-the-feels contemporary with a stunning beach setting– a setting that provides so much comfort to our main character, Anna. While moving to the area was hard on her, I love that Anna starts to embrace her new home as she learns more about how important the area was to her mother, who she lost unexpectedly ten years earlier. While a super sweet romance was also blossoming in the background, I appreciated that the majority of the book focused on the importance of remaining connected to loved ones who have passed and rekindling relationships with those you’ve drifted away from. Overall, I really enjoyed all this book had to offer, and it just seems fitting that it be read in the summer months!

2) This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like (This is What Happy Looks Like, #1)

Can we all just take a moment and appreciate how simple and sweet this cover it? In addition to the setting being a quaint little town in the summertime and the characters taking advantage of all the fun that comes along with the season, I specifically chose This Is What Happy Looks Like for this list because Smith’s writing is so captivating, poetic, and reads so beautifully. There’s just something about the fluidity of her words that blend in so well with the aspects of summer that are at the forefront of this book. In all honestly, I really can’t think of another book that better fits the description of “summer pick-me-up” than this gem!

3) The Beholder by Anna Bright

Amazon.com: The Beholder (9780062845429): Bright, Anna: Books

There’s something about loose fairytale retellings that draw me in during the summer months. The Beholder just might be my favorite to date, though, because it’s got a little bit of everything I look for to keep me enthralled in a fantasy: a strong female lead who, while understandably kind of a hot mess, always manages to find the strength to keep going, undertones of the Odyssey, and even a little romance thrown in. If you’re missing your weekly episodes of “The Bachelorette” while they’re in the off-season, this book may just be the perfect alternative to help you pass the time, as Selah is the star of her own version of the show, just in literary form and, well, ya know, there being a dash of magic thrown into the mix!

4) What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Amazon.com: What I Thought Was True (9780803739093): Fitzpatrick ...

I chose What I Thought Was True for this list because the overall theme of mending bridges is at the forefront. What better time than summer to take the opportunity to learn to forgive and rekindle a relationship with someone you were once close to? This is exactly what Gwen spends her summer doing on her homeland of Seashell Island, in addition to trying to figure out what she wants out of life after graduating from high school. A lot of big decisions are made in the summer, and this book would be the perfect read for high school and college seniors who are fixing to start new journeys of their own. Maybe they’ll even realize that they have some relationships mending to do themselves before they venture off to begin their new chapters of life!

5) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Amazon.com: An Ember in the Ashes (9781432850340): Tahir, Sabaa: Books

I’m not really sure why this book screams “summer” to me, but somehow I just can’t imagine reading this fantasy novel in any other season! Maybe it’s because in a lot of ways, this book is the total opposite of what I would use to describe summertime– pretty dark, cold, gloomy, and slightly depressing, at times. But, the adventures these characters set out on are super action-packed and suspenseful, so even if you can’t go on one of your own this summer, you’ll be able to escape from the real world for awhile when reading An Ember in the Ashes!

6) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever

I find that some of the most grand summertime adventures don’t have to take you someplace new. For some people, like Macy the Perfectionist, your not-so-fun but oh-so-important trials may take place right at home. I loved that this book was all about how taking advantage of new opportunities that are outside your comfort zone help you discover so many new things about yourself you never knew existed. It’s also a testament to how surrounding yourself with good people can help heal old wounds. The sweet romance that blossomed in this book was just the icing on the cake to make this one of my favorite summer reads to date!

7) Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone

While I could have picked literally any of Morgan Matson’s books for this list because she’s the QUEEN of summery contemporaries, I chose Since You’ve Been Gone because its premise is very different from those of her other books. This book has less emphasis on romance, and more on the importance of personal growth and independence from those we tend to use as a crutch to avoid challenging ourselves. I absolutely adored all of the summertime activities on the list Sloan left Emily to help push her out of her comfort zone and how Emily seemed to embrace the whole experience, even though I would have found quite a few of the activities listed terrifying myself! I was so engrossed in this compelling story that at times, I felt like I was accompanying Emily on her escapades, which was so much fun to experience! Overall, I just felt like all the working pieces of this book fit the mold of summer to a T, and I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to Emily’s journey of breaking out of her shell at a really critical time in her life.

8) Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welsh

Amazon.com: Love & Gelato (9781481432559): Welch, Jenna Evans: Books

Love and Gelato is the perfect summertime read, with is gorgeous Italian setting, whimsical descriptions of all the country has to offer, and the adorable bond that forms between Ren and Lina as they scramble to uncover a hidden secret about Lina’s family. This books stands out from other contemporaries in that it’s such a quick, fun, and enjoyable read and while it does have some emotional moments in it, the focus remains on all the good life has to offer! Not only will this book lift your spirits when you’re feeling down, but it will totally convince you to bite the bullet and take your own summer trip abroad!

I hope you all find this list helpful as we head into the summer months! What are some of your go-to summer reads? Let me know below!