Let me preface this by saying that I hadn’t read any of Holly Black’s work before. I’d heard of many who praise her books, but I simply hadn’t got around to reading any of them. Of course, when The Cruel Prince was released earlier this year, I was so intrigued by the premise that it immediately went in my TBR. I bought the book sometime in the summer, but like most of the books piled at the foot of my bed, it went unread. UNTIL, this past week.
You see, I felt myself falling into another reading slump. I mean, after the wonderful month that was June (I will forever be going back to that month as my most successful month ever), I felt spent emotionally and mentally. Reading takes a toll, people! Combine that with the book hangover from the three Shadowhunter books I read back to back, it was inevitable. However, I felt myself itching to read something, and The Cruel Prince was first on my list. Firstly, because it was by an author I had not read before. Secondly, it had one of my favorite tropes of all time: Hate to Love. And by golly, this book did not disappoint.
The Cruel Prince is the first in a trilogy(!), and it is set in a mythical world of faerie. Even if you’re not a fantasy/faerie person, do not rule this book out! It centers around Jude and her two sisters who are taken away from the mortal world and into the faerie world by a man who has murdered their parents. And that’s just the prologue! The story follows Jude and her desire to become a knight whilst at the same time avoiding Prince Cardan, a faerie prince who is equal parts brooding and a prick. But the banter between these two is GOLD.
What is so great about this relationship is that it isn’t insta-love. Barely anything happens until the end of the book, but it is the journey there that makes your fingers clench the page and your heart go pitter-patter. This is a Hate to Love that seems to be done right. (at least so far, since there ARE two more books!) If you read this book and love their dynamic, follow the incorrect Cruel Prince quotes account on twitter. That stuff makes me legitimately laugh out loud.
Jude’s character was one I couldn’t pin down in the beginning. In the first few chapters, I kept thinking I had her personality pegged, but Black kept surprising me. While Jude might have made a decision or two that I wouldn’t have thought of, she became such a great character that I would love seeing more characters like her. Ambition for power in a main character, especially a female one, isn’t featured in many YA novels. Normally, it’s the opposite. The main character doesn’t want power and wants to stop the antagonist because THEY desire power. I loved the switch and want to know if Jude’s ambition grows or withers with the next two books.
If you’re a sucker for beautiful world-building and an intricate writing style, this is the book for you. Black makes sure to introduce the reader to the world with just enough information that you can fill in the rest of the blanks yourself. I’ll be honest; the first few chapters dump a bit of faerie politics on you, but once you get that straight, it’s smooth sailing from there. *Without getting into too many spoilers, this information is vital to fully understand the ending.
Speaking of the ending, Black employs the use of surprises to her advantage and genuinely sets up enough interest to continue the rest of the series. The plot and subplots are engaging, and I can imagine the fury with which fanfiction writers will imagine the rest of the series. I haven’t checked out fanfiction sites in a while, but with the anticipation between now and January 8th, I might have to.
The second book, The Wicked King, comes out January 8, 2019. You can preorder it here. The third and final book, Queen of Nothing, does not have a release date as of writing this review.
The Lost Sisters, an e-novella told from Taryn’s point of view, comes out October 2nd! It’s available here.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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