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The Folk of the Air #1

The Cruel Prince

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This is a previously published cover edition of ISBN 9780316310277. An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here.

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.

370 pages, Hardcover

First published January 2, 2018

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About the author

Holly Black

175 books92.3k followers
Holly Black is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty fantasy novels for kids and teens. She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor. Her books have been translated into 32 languages worldwide and adapted for film. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret library.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
July 19, 2023
“He looks like a faerie lover stepped out of a ballad, the kind where no good comes to the girl who runs away with him.”

If you guys ever want to see what my true heart’s desires are on paper, read this book. This book is a piece of heaven that was sent from above, this book is the perfection incarnate, this book is nothing short of magical, this book easily makes my top five books of all-time list, and this book is without a doubt the best book I’ve read in 2017. I’m not sure how I’m even going to attempt to come up with a review fitting for this masterpiece, but I’m going to try.

Okay, maybe I should start this review off with a personal story. You know, full disclosure and all that. I was a young girl, at the mall with my mom, and we walked into a Borders Outlet. I’ve always been a rather ravenous reader, but at that time in my reading life I was reading only crime thrillers. Think things like James Patterson and John Grisham. Well, while I was perusing the new releases on this autumn day back in the 2007, a worker came up to me and started talking to me about her love for books, but more importantly her love for fae books. She was so kind and warm and enthusiastic, I couldn’t help but ask her to pick me one of her favorite fae stories. Well, she ended up handing me two, but one of them was Tithe by Holly Black, and this godsend Borders Outlet employee completely changed me and my reading life forever.

After that day, and after I inhale read that book, Holly Black became one of my favorite authors and my parents couldn’t keep unread fae fantasy books on my shelves. And ten years later, I’ve never looked back. I’ve been completely obsessed with fae stories ever since. And if I ever develop magical powers, one of the first thing I’m going to do is track down that Borders Outlet employee and thank her for making me the reader that I am today.

Okay, sappy and heartwarming story aside, this book was honestly perfection in every aspect. You want fae courts? Bloodthirsty fae royals fighting for a crown? Twists after twists and reveals after reveals? Heartwarming scenes followed by heart wrenching scenes? The slowest and most agonizing but also the most romantic and powerful and rewarding hate to love romance in the world? Pick this book up.

“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.”

And the writing? I mean, not only is Holly Black the literal queen of all things fae, she is also the queen at stringing together words that make me feel everything in the entire universe. The amount of sticky notes and highlights I have in this book is ridiculous, but Holly Black’s writing is so poignant and lyrical and honestly the most perfect thing my eyes have ever seen. This entire book reads like one giant tragic ballad, yet it is equal parts heartbreak and hope. This book is so haunting, so dark, and so twisted.

“But I will not stand in front of your happiness. I will not even stand in front of misery that you choose for yourself.”

Jude is a very young girl when she witnesses her parents murder. After that terrible night, she and her sisters are whisked away by the murderer to live in Faerie. Now, ten years later, Jude is trying to live among the fae, while constantly being reminded of her mortal human status. Yet, she soon gets wrapped up in a very elaborate game, from many different sides, which will cause a civil war to break out in the Courts of Faerie if the game isn’t played properly.

The High King has ruled for centuries, but people feel like it is finally time for him to step down and give the royal crown to one of his children. In this world, the king chooses his successor; it doesn’t automatically go to the oldest child. And the High King has six children in line waiting for him to make his choice.

Prince Cardan is the youngest son of the High King. He is wicked, and charming, and smart, and maybe even a little cruel. Oh, and he makes Jude’s life a living hell most of the time. He’s also one of the best characters I’ve ever read in my entire life.

And with Cardan, comes his group of friends: Nicasia who likes power, Valerian who likes violence, and Locke who likes dramatics, but they all love tormenting Jude in very different ways.

“That’s what comes of hungering for something; you forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down”

Even though Jude is the only point of view, and is the main protagonist of this amazing story, her two sisters play a huge part of this story, too. Taryn is Jude’s twin, who must watch all the torment that Jude endures, and Vivi is their older sister and one of the best side characters I’ve ever read. She’s unique and defiant and strong and devoted, and her romance with her girlfriend meant everything to me. Also, Vivi is on the page bisexual and that representation meant even more than everything to me.

Oh, and speaking of adorable queer relationships; Ben and Severin, from The Darkest Part of the Forest, make a cameo in this and I was crying the happiest tears! I don’t think I will ever be over THAT whisper, and I’ve just completely accepted that. Be still, my heart.

But Jude is our main character of this story, and you can tell from everything that I’ve written above that she doesn’t have the easiest of lives. See, the fae in this world are very dependent on humans, even though they remind them of their lower status constantly, because the fae women have a very hard and sporadic time conceiving and bearing children, therefore, they rely on humans reproducing for them. Well, Jude doesn’t want that life, she wants to make a name for herself and be one of the greatest knights that the Courts of Faerie have ever seen!

Jude is strong willed and very determined, but she is also one of the most selfless characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading from. She is a very morally grey character, yet she will completely capture your heart. But she’s young and learning that love comes in very different forms, and sometimes we are unable to control what we feel.

“I stand in front of my window and imagine myself a fearless knight, imagine myself a witch who hid her heart in her finger and then chopped her finger off.”

One of the most beautiful things about this book is that none of these characters are perfect. Jude, Cardan, all of them do bad things, and none of them are ever excused of their crimes, but they learn to deal with them and the other ramifications that come from their actions. I mean, none of us are perfect people, and we all make bad choices at times. But this book accepts that and reflects that, but also highlights the importance of growing, and becoming a stronger person, and picking what battles you choose to fight. It’s a truly beautiful message and I really appreciated having a full cast of nonperfect characters that do nonperfect things.

“But we all want stupid things. That doesn’t mean we should have them.”

Also, this is a spoiler free review, but I just have to yell from the rooftops say that Chapter 26 is the best chapter I’ve read in all of literature. I will fight anyone that says otherwise. Chapter 26 tortured me, broke up, killed me, rebirthed me, and gave me new life. The end of Chapter 25 through Chapter 26 was the most romantic scene my eyes have ever witnessed. I feel so blessed to have even been able to read those glorious paragraphs. Like, I’m a different person after experiencing Chapter 26. When I’m sad or hurt or angry, I’m going to reread Chapter 26 so I know the true meaning of this life.

“…like taking a dare to run over knives, like an adrenaline strike of lighting, 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.”

Also, fair warning, this book has a cliffhanger ending that puts all other cliffhanger endings to shame. Just typing that sentence gave me full body goosebumps, by the way! Oh, and the title of this book is absolute perfection, as well.

This book has touched me in a way that very few books have in my life. This is the type of book that reminds me why I fell in love with reading in the first place. This is the type of book that makes me believe words have the most powerful healing magic of anything in this world. This is the type of book that completely sets my soul on fire and makes me feel utterly enchanted. I just know that The Cruel Prince is a once in a lifetime series, because this first installment was everything I have ever wanted in a book.

Holly Black immerses me, captivates me, and makes me believe in magic. I have no words of gratitude for that, and I’m not sure what the world has done to deserve her stories, but I will forever be grateful. Holly Black helps me forget all the actual cruel princes in our world today, and their terrible choices that they are making for all of us. And honestly, I’d be super surprised if she isn’t an actual fae queen, that just escaped faerie to torture us with real stories that went on while she was ruling.

Again, if you can only preorder one book for the rest of the year, please pick The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. It’s not only my favorite book of the year, it’s one of my favorite books of all time. And then read the rest of Holly Black’s work, because her books are truly the closest thing to magic and each is a tangible vessel of joy that I have an an unconditional amount of love for.

“If I cannot be better than them, I will be so much worse.”

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Content warnings for bullying, talk of suicide, and abuse.

The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

(Thank you so much, Diana. You've completely made my entire bookish life! This book means more to me than you'll ever know. I am forever grateful and will always remember and cherish your kind note. Thank you for giving me an ARC of my favorite book! 💖)

[Reread: December, 2018]
Yeah, this is still my favorite book of the year. Such a damn masterpiece! And rereading this was truly the best holiday gift I could have ever given myself. ❤
Profile Image for emma.
1,868 reviews54.4k followers
October 27, 2021
*clears throat*

Excuse me, uh. Who cares?

This is not a rhetorical question. I truly want to know. I read this whole ass book and I am still at a complete loss for something, anything, to care about. Not a plot point, not a character trait, not a single line of quirky banter I could get myself emotionally invested in.


This is a book about fairies and it was a trial for me to get through. Me, a person who loves fairies so much she spent her entire third grade year absolutely convinced, in a non-ironic manner, that she was one.

It doesn’t get much more dream audience for this book than me. And I couldn’t give two sh*ts, or one sh*t, or even a fraction of a sh*t, for so much as a moment. So. Who among you was able to pull off such a feat?

Okay, to be fair, maybe I’m not the dream audience. Holly Black and I have a rocky past. I grew up on the Spiderwick books (well, mostly the Field Guide, which I used as a means of learning about my own species. See the above “I thought I was a fairy” admission). But The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is one of 9 books I’ve DNFed in my entire goddamn life, and The Darkest Part of the Forest was another snoozefest.

I like character-driven stories. I like slow books with beautiful writing. But I don’t like Holly Black characters, and I don’t love Holly Black’s writing, and basically all of her books put me to sleep every time. And also make me feel like I’m reading the exact same book over and over. Seriously, they all read the same. Including Spiderwick, which is shocking because that 1) is middle grade and 2) has a good deal less sexual tension than a lot of her other stuff.


This book was so, so boring.

Nothing really happens until past the 200-page mark, and by then everything is so silly and ridiculous that I was mostly along for the ride. What, you say? More of the synopsis is out the window? We’re just deleting more character development from our brains? Delightful.

Because, again, who cares.

I know a lot of people love this book because they love Jude. I don’t know why they love Jude. Is she supposedly “strong” or “powerful” or “badass” or one of those words we assign to characters when there isn’t much to describe? Because I’m not seeing anything to fall in love with.

I know a lot of people love this book because they love Cardan. I know exactly why they love Cardan. It is because he is one of three or four YA boy character archetypes that draw in blatant adoration (and delightful fan art) from readers WITHOUT. FAIL.

Basically, here are the acceptable YA male traits. You pick a combination of these, and you have your flat, uninteresting, repeat character.
- handsome OR beautiful OR hot
- funny OR mysterious OR charming
- banter-y OR bully-y OR flirty

And that’s it. I often like the handsome/funny/banter-y archetype. From time to time, I’ll enjoy a hot/charming/flirty one.

I always, always, always hate the beautiful/mysterious/bully-y one. I hated Will Herondale, and boy oh boy do I hate Cardan.

And I know a lot of people love this book because of the plot and the world. But the plot to me was nonexistent, because for 200 pages this book largely made me drag myself through it, with no action or momentum to pull me along. And the world is just Every Holly Black Book But With A Slight Twist, Maybe. And that world hasn’t worked for me since I was nine and thought myself a resident, my dear boy.

Bottom line: I guess the thing with Holly Black is that if one book works for you, they all will. But baby, that goes both ways!


this book is...lame.

review to come!!!

currently-reading updates

buddy reading this with lily and may and we are definitely all thriving and having a good time. no rage or boredom involved at all

tbr review

just received official word that i WILL be excommunicated from goodreads if i do not have this book on my shelves
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
January 13, 2023
Jan 2023: Still impossible to put down and I know what happens!! Gotta say, I'm glad I didn't reread this before reading The Stolen Heir because that one would have paled in comparison. Nothing quite like Jude & Cardan.

No matter how careful I am, eventually I'll make another misstep. I am weak. I am fragile. I am mortal.
I hate that most of all.

Over the course of this year, I've read both books that I've liked and books I've disliked. I've read books that I've loved and, it's fair to say, books that are better written, more unique, and more groundbreaking than this book. That being said, however, I am struggling to recall a book that has left me this excited about a YA series in a very long time.

It seems like forever since I read a completely juicy YA fantasy with just the right amount of drama, action, surprises, nastiness and the tiniest hints at romantic possibility. The wait for the next book is going to be torture!

Holly Black knows her audience so well. She's not kind to us because she knows we don't really want that anyway. So of course The Cruel Prince opens with a brutal murder that leaves Jude, her twin sister Taryn, and their older sister Vivienne at the mercy of the redcap general - Madoc. Jump to ten years later, and the three sisters are all living in Faerie. They've been raised as Madoc's own, more or less, and each is trying to find her own place among the beautiful but cruel, deceitful but always honest, fey.

For Vivi, return to the human world is the answer. For Taryn, assimilation and playing by the rules is the only way. For our narrator - Jude - rebellion, bloodshed and winning her place in the King's council is what she desires.
Nicasia's wrong about me. I do not desire to do as well in the tournament as one of the fey. I want to win. I do not yearn to be their equal.
In my heart, I yearn to best them.

It is extremely compelling. Even before the real drama kicks off in the later chapters, I was so wholly pulled into Jude's world. The bullying she endures at the hands of her fey classmates adds a heavy dose of unfairness to keep you pissed enough to turn the pages. Then we get to the spying, secrets, betrayals, side-switching and, oh wow, can I just have the next book please?

In truth, not a single character is entirely likeable. All are complex, more than a little flawed, and nobody can be trusted. Even Jude. It's really quite wonderful. Cardan, the "cruel prince" from the title, is an asshole. A drunken, bullying, selfish asshole. And yet... and yet. We shall see.

In case it wasn't obvious, I loved it. All the drama is absolutely delicious and, while Black does draw on some familiar tropes, the world, characters and politics feel fresh in her hands. It charges to a climax full of surprises and the ending doesn't disappoint. Nicely wrapped up but with enough to leave me desperate for the next instalment. I can't wait!
"Nice things don't happen in storybooks," Taryn says. "Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it."

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Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
March 16, 2021

New week, New BookTube Video - all about the best (and worst) literary couples
The Written Review

If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.
Jude (and her twin, Taryn) are human but their older sister (Vivi) belonged to another world.

Their mother fled when she was pregnant with Vivi and escaped to the human world. Their mother gave birth to the half-fairy Vivi, married and soon had Jude & Taryn.

But their little family could not stay hidden.

Madoc (her mother's ex husband) belongs to the fae and according to their wild ways, he was honor-bound to murder their mother for abandoning his family and stealing away Vivi.

Operating by that same sense of honor, he took in the now-orphaned children to be raised as his own.
Father, I am what you made me. I’ve become your daughter after all.
Jude and Taryn embrace this wondrous and fearsome world - finding their place among the crazed and the creative, the beasts and the beauties, the tragedies and terrors.

However, as much as they try, fairyland is no place for humans.
If you hurt me, I wouldn't cry. I would hurt you back.
As Taryn cringes in fear, Jude stiffens her spine. If they get tormented, Jude taunts back. And when Jude is pushed, she attacks.
Cardan looks at me as though he's never seen me before. He looks at me as though no one has ever spoken to him like this. Maybe no one has.
Simply a stunning modern fairy tale a la Holly Black.

The beginning was a bit slow, so if you aren't feeling it at the beginning - keep going! Once the setting and characters are established - wow. Seriously wow. And that ending - I literally cannot wait for book 2.
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.
The 2018 ABC Reading Challenge- C

Audiobook Comments
Read by Caitlin Kelly and she absolutely rocked it. An absolute pleasure to listen to!!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Warda.
1,207 reviews19.7k followers
September 28, 2018
So, where to begin.
Hype as we know it, is quite futile. The buzz it ignites is amazing. They create this excitement within you that has your mind wandering to all of the possibilities and direction the book can go in.

Because of the hype, I assumed I would enjoy this book. I'm quite an easy-to-please reader, so usually when a book is hyped up, I tend to enjoy it. Or even if I don't, I will feel indifferent. But this book brought about a rage within me; I hated it with every fibre of my being.

You may be thinking that because of the fact I 'succumbed' to the hype, it ruined the experience for me. That was not the case at all. I always go in weary, but with a sense of optimism when it comes to hyped books.

As for the book, well, everything was wrong with it for me. Other than the slight addictive quality it had - which died for me after I passed the halfway point - this book was weak in every sense of the word. From the protagonist, to the characters, the plot and the world building. There was no development or growth that brought those aspects to live, not even the writing.

The story-line started off quite tragic, with Jude's parents being brutally killed off from the bat. From that, I was expecting some kind of revenge story, or emotionally harrowing character development, because to witness that when you're young will obviously take a toll.

But no. That wasn't explored. Right off the bat, our main character goes on to enter some kind of tournament she has no experience in whatsoever. There's nothing ingrained within her to take on this challenge, no power she embodies, intellectually or physically. Whilst it took place, all I kept thinking about was how flimsy the battle was, neither did it feel complete. Just rushed.

Thus this was the narrative the story carried on. Our main character had no proper background that we as readers were exposed to in order for us to connect with, no experience, and neither had she trained to gain any of it throughout the course of the book. Everything was just thrown (characters and world) at the reader, and felt as if we were expected to go with the flow and further clarification was not given or explained. Event after event took place with no sense of proper progression of the overall plot. No aspect to it whatsoever felt substantial or concrete.

I got angrier as I read on and when it got to the last 50 odd pages, I refused to carry on, because I couldn't bring myself to care one bit. It wasn't that it was even mediocre; the whole book felt pointless to me.

Well, I'm pretty sure my soul just died. No, it is dead.
I haven't hated a book this much since Caraval and I don't tend to hate books that often. I'm indifferent most of the time, and I do enjoy a lot of the ones I read. But this... god. I have no words.

Review to come when I can feel again.
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
March 23, 2022
I do not yearn to be their equal. In my heart, I yearn to best them.
Wow, what a start to the trilogy! I'm not sure what I expected going into The Cruel Prince, but it certainly wasn't this much fun or this much nastiness.

Jude was only seven years old when her parents were brutally murdered in front of her eyes. The man who killed them took her and her sisters to the High Court of Faerie, to be brought up as one of them. Yet, in the ten years since, Jude has never felt like she belonged. As a mortal, she is always less than in the eyes of the Faeries. In particular, she makes an enemy of the cruel Prince Cardan. When treachery comes to the High Court, Jude must figure out what she's really capable of in order to grab the power she so desires.

Right off the bat, it's clear that every character in here is somewhat morally corrupt, including our heroine Jude. To survive and thrive, they must continually scheme and do bad things. While I don't normally gravitate towards this sort of story, it works here because everyone's motivations make sense. I feel an emotional connection with each character, so I'm able to cheer them on, even as their actions become crazier and more questionable. It sure makes for an entertaining read, one I can't look away from.

The writing is truly top-notch, with a sharpness that keeps me on my toes. I particularly enjoyed the dialogue, which is so witty and scathing that it feels like every line is worth savoring and rereading. The worldbuilding is easy and effortless, drawing the reader seamless into this universe. It proceeds bit by bit, so there's never any confusion or info dumping. And the way every tidbit eventually fits together is satisfying to the extreme.

There's so much packed into this one story: politics, family drama, revenge, power, and murder. There's even a bit of romantic intrigue disguised as mutual hate, which is quite delicious. Everything builds up slowly, increasing in tension until we reach a turning point about halfway through. After that, the gloves are off, and we are treated to one surprise after another. I never knew what the next chapter would bring, so I was turning the pages as fast as I could.

When I think of a fantasy story I want to sink my teeth into, I'm looking for a few things: sharp writing, well-plotted story, compelling characters, and seamless worldbuilding. And if there's a dash of romance, I certainly wouldn't object. Well, this book has them all, and I'm in awe over how flawlessly everything came together. I can't wait for more.

See also, my thoughts on:
#2. The Wicked King

Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
316 reviews115k followers
February 13, 2018
Absolutely loved this read!! A wondrous fantasy novel that is easy to get invested in. So many great plot twists and high-intensity, suspenseful moments!

TW: murder, physical abuse, sexual abuse, suicide

Holly Black is truly the queen of creating exquisite worlds. Her interpretation of faeries is always so fascinating and glorious. It’s hard to fully capture what it is about her world-building that is so magical, but her books are always my favorite when it comes to faeries. I believe a part of it is that she flawlessly captures the danger and darkness of fey while also displaying the beauty of their magic. There are few words to accurately describe her talent for writing intriguing and beautiful fantasy worlds.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story. Jude is a great protagonist – her fierceness is complimented by her vulnerability, which makes her very realistic considering her circumstances. The relationships between characters are also fascinating, especially the family dynamics. The way Jude views her sisters and “adoptive” family are very unique in my opinion.

I also enjoyed the fact that this is not a romance novel. Though it is weaved in here and there, I feel the overarching plot becomes full of politics as the story progress. I will admit, I did lose focus at sometimes while listening to the audiobook because so much of this novel is centered on political relationships, the complications of monarchies, dynamics between different courts, and plotting to overthrow. That being said, it is so well developed and different from many YA books that I overall had a great experience with in.

In total, The Cruel Prince was fantastic. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy, faeries, political intrigue, or just an all-around immersive novel.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,609 reviews10.7k followers
September 5, 2023
Please enjoy the following visual presentation of my reactions whilst reading The Cruel Prince:

((cue the Muzak)):

This was NOTHING at all like what I expected it to be. I am actually shocked by how much I enjoyed this. If I'm being honest, I didn't think I would.

I had previously read, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Black, and it was just okay for me. There was nothing wrong with it, but I didn't find it particularly memorable either.

Going into this one, I was expecting angsty romance, whiny little girls and unlikable love interests.

I am so happy to report that none of these items can be found within these pages!

I love strategic and politically motivated characters, which this story has in spades.

Jude is a goddess, an absolute goddess, and I cannot wait for the next installment.

I may write more thoughts on this once I get my shit together, but maybe not.

How can words even describe? What is love? Baby, don't hurt me.

The Wicked King better be bringing all this political intrigue BACK!!
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,072 reviews51.4k followers
January 8, 2023
me reading the folk of the air trilogy in a day *spoilers*: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLg5D...

hi i'm chandler and this is my favorite book of all time

no for real, this book has EVERYTHING. but first off i just want to say that y'all have been SLEEPING on holly black. she is incredible and i genuinely love every single one of her books that i have read. so i guess it's not surprising that i loved this one. what did i love you may ask?

- the writing... HELLO! YES! how can a book that is short and straight forward in writing pack such a big punch. this is no SJM, overly complicated and long bullshit. holly black writes with intention.

- the family... the theme of family in this was amazing. jude's relationship with madoc and her sisters was so realistic and nuanced that i felt like it could have existed in real life. i loved it.

- the world... somehow it slipped past me in the description of this book but this is set in present day. there are malls and mcdonalds in the human world. how fucking cool is that??? super cool juxtaposition with the seemingly antiquated fae world.

- jude... sweetie. you are awesome. you are a bad ass. your feelings are so fcking valid. also the way her feelings about cardan are described in this book... perfection. i seriously related to her which is rare. why are females in books so damn annoying usually? idk but jude IS NOT.

- CARDAN... i mean do i really have to explain this one? he's perfect. (but i will say, dunno what y'all are talking about with him secretly being a soft boy... he is NOT. he's a dick, and i love him)

if you love yourself, go read this book.
Profile Image for Marie Lu.
Author 47 books134k followers
July 18, 2017
WHAT IS THIS BEAUTY. Someone please revive me because I am dead from the awesomeness of this book.

If you want to read a masterpiece of character and story, look no further. The Cruel Prince showcases Holly Black at the top of her game: it is exquisitely dark and delightfully wicked, set in an intricate world of highlighted sensation--the taste of faerie fruit, the feel of rich, decaying fabrics, the smells of dangerous old chambers--and populated by a cast of characters that left me dying from feels. I mean, seriously. Jude is a *glorious* lead: a shrewd and determined survivor with exactly the kind of cunning that I love. YES. And then there are her sisters! Cardan! The princes of Faerie! Her complex family! As always, Holly's language is as precise as it is beautiful, and I frequently found myself pausing to reread turns of phrases because each could pack so much into so few words.


My review is not doing the book justice. Read this immediately. You'll be so grateful that you did.
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
614 reviews765 followers
April 27, 2018
384 pages. ZERO SUBSTANCE.

Unless you call pages littered with problematic shit... substance.

I don’t get it. I just don’t fucking get it.

Before: This book is my 1st experience with Holly Black. It’ll either make or break our future relationship.

After: Any plans for a potential future relationship is hereby terminated. Over. Done with. Null and void. Cancelled... you get the point.

when you go into a book expecting gold and it ends up being your worst read of the year. In January…

Oh, the rage…

Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
December 31, 2018
I liked this a lot! I completely get why so many people didn't enjoy this and there are plenty of things certain characters do that are inexcusable. There were just so many other things about the book that I enjoyed! The plot itself was a wild time. One of the later chapters had me staring at a wall in a state of disbelief in regards to what had happened. The world was such an interesting one to explore! I've got more to say on this, but my mind is just asdfghjkl; after reading it so that's all I've got for now.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.5k followers
June 10, 2018
Sorry folks, I don't get it.

2.5? Maybe...

Unmemorable. Another YA fantasy with fairies and humans, clichés and cringe romance similar to all the other fantasy/dystopian books that have been coming out. I don't understand the hype because there was nothing I found good in here. There wasn't anything horrible either which leaves me with a "meh" review.

Won't continue the series. Don't recommend it.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
January 10, 2022
you: I want Jude and Cardan to be in a romantic relationship

me, an intellectual: I want Jude and Cardan to remain supreme enemies who occasionally make out and always make sure the other stays alive for no reason other than an unspoken understanding that life without the other would be a complete and utter bore
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,195 followers
September 13, 2021
not a day goes by without thinking how freaking annoying Jude was in this book
Profile Image for Antje ❦.
131 reviews269 followers
May 23, 2023
Funny how someone's name written 50 times by their enemy (and it's a four-letter name) can alter my brain chemistry forever
Profile Image for  Teodora .
329 reviews1,777 followers
April 15, 2023
4.5/5 ⭐

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺

“(…) cheekbones sharp enough to cut out a girl’s heart.”

I love me a cruel and tipsy Faerie prince and that’s Cardan and only Cardan.

I mean everything I said in the previous sentence. Every. Word. Is. True.

Cardan was the best thing happening to this book and if you deny this that that’s strictly your problem. He’s a charmer.


I don’t read hyper-hyped books in general. But when I do, I read them aeons after they’re out so the hype has worn out and I can enjoy the book (or not) in peace. This one was super hyped. I was plainly curious to see if it really is worth a shot.


I truly didn’t expect the beginning of the book to scream like that. That was a power move. And I liked it.

Everything that came after that was to lure us into the Faerie world, of what, I must admit, I have only a minimum knowledge of. Everyone is beautiful, but everyone is cruel. Basically, it looks like a circus.

It is important for me to be able to grasp the world from the beginning. I feel frustrated when the whole universe unravels as if I just dropped in the middle of what was going on and no one had the time to acknowledge me. I want to feel important from the beginning.
Thank you, Holly Black, I did feel important!

“Being born mortal is like being born already dead.”

This is the story of sisters. Vivienne, Jude and Taryn are three sisters who began their lives in the mortal world and but then were forced to come to Elfhame after their parents got brutally murdered by their soon-to-be foster father – Vivienne’s real father. Vivi is one of them; Jude and Taryn, the twins, are not. This is the story of the sisters’ struggle to be accepted in a world that doesn’t want them to be part of.


Although Jude and Taryn are twins, they are completely different from each other. Where Taryn is ladylike and delicate, silent and obedient, Jude is determined and loud and wild. Where Taryn wants to be granted a place in the Faerie world through marriage, Jude wants to be a knight and play at war.

The story is narrated from Jude’s point of view. That is probably why many people find her annoying. The whole story sounds like her own roaring thoughts and feelings. Maybe she annoys herself too as many of us get annoyed with ourselves and our own thoughts.

“You’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet.”

In a purely honest note, I kind of liked Jude in this book. Sure, she was a bit annoying sometimes, but truth be said, I liked her better than Taryn. There was something about her twin sister that made me repel her. Jude was interesting in a way that made me relate to her. I could totally see me sometimes in her actions. I felt like she was full of her own personality.

She’s power-thirsty. But this is how she was raised to be. To fight, to scheme, to seek and seize power. She’s the foster daughter of the great general of the Faerie after all. I still consider that a badass trait about her. Don’t you think?


Now, as I previously stated, I think I might have a soft spot for Cardan, the youngest Prince of the Faerie.

“There’s safety in being awful.”

Cardan Greenbriar might seem cruel, reckless, thirsty for violence, but I think he is totally the good boy in disguise type. I mean, at first, I couldn’t stand him (even though I hated his friends more than I despised him). Then, there was this period of transition where I had mixed feelings about him. 65% in and I just slowly but steadily started to fall in love with him. I started to realise things about him as presented by his actual, intimate actions. And how couldn’t I fall like a fool? He was a lonely and broken boy. All he wanted was to love and be loved, but no one seemed to care about him enough to grant him that little. What is the whole power in the world of Faerie without an ounce of affection to it?

“Most of all, I hate you because I think of you. Often. It’s disgusting and I can’t stop.”

He hates. Hates because he loves. Hate because he’s not loved.

His relationship with Jude starts and unfolds slowly. They have that wonderful love-to-hate relationship that I actually enjoy in books in general.

I consider their relationship a bit unhealthy though. What happens between the two of them is a peculiar kind of hate-love. It’s a game played out of spite. It’s all about power and desire. I am not sure this is right, but I do believe that this type of relationship is going to improve because from hate to love to hate to love again – that’s an endless wheel that could be stopped anytime, anywhere. One can make a beautiful thing out of something hideous, but one can also ruin the beauty of a thing. Their relationship, in this book, is dangerous ground.

Indeed, something about the book seemed off. Even though the world-building was very good and the action was fantastic, the depth of the characters was somehow missing. I wanted them to be more individualised, but I think that’s just because we see the story through only one character’s point of view. When you personalise the action, it’s hard to create well-developed individuals.

That, I think, it’s the only contradictory thing I have to say about this book. Really. I even enjoyed all the bloodshed there. And that’s not okay. But it was so cleverly crafted that I just had to enjoy it somehow??

Also see:
#2. The Wicked King (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
#3. The Queen of Nothing (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
September 5, 2020

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My first order of action: I'm starting an "I hate Taryn" club. If you want to join, just comment below and you'll receive instant membership status. It is the hate that binds us.

Edit: I made a badge with MS Paint. >:D

What would happen if you combined Hana Yori Dango with Game of Thrones? This book.

I'm kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed THE CRUEL PRINCE. It was receiving a lot of hype, and normally that turns me off, because so much of the hype surrounding books these days seems so manufactured. I'm really sick of seeing everyone post aesthetic pictures of certain books and say, "OMG! THIS IS SO GREAT! LIFE CHANGING! WOW!" and then I go, "Oh really?" and pick it up, like a sucker, and find out that the book is not great or life-changing but incredibly mediocre or, worse, bad and just basically more of the same.

THE CRUEL PRINCE is that 1book out of 100 that deserves all the hype. Faeries are portrayed as they're supposed to be: not Greek gods with convenient magical powers that spend all their time acting like life is one big fat reality TV show, but actual scary, power-hungry creatures who are terrifying as they are beautiful to behold. Jude and her sisters, Taryn and Vivi, find that out the hard way when one of them bursts into their door in the mortal world and murders both her parents. It turns out that their mother was previously married - to a fae - and he didn't take kindly to cheating.

But leaving behind orphans leaves a sour taste in Madoc (jealous faerie ex-husband)'s mouth so he brings back all three of them to be reared in the world of faerie, where they're treated in his household like minor Gentry and resented by pretty much everyone else. Including the Elite 4 - *cough* - I mean the Faerie "Plastics": Nicasia, Locke, Valerian, and Cardan. Jude, not knowing when to stand down or keep her mouth shut, ends up bearing the brunt of their humiliations and intimidation tactics, and instead of learning a lesson, she ends up feeling nothing but rage and a desire for revenge.

For about 1/3 of this book, it felt like another YA fantasy drama with a mortal girl who ends up biting off more than she can chew with a side-romance that feels tepid. Then about 2/3 in, things start to get really crazy, with court intrigue, espionage, betrayal, murder, poison, and yes, okay, illicit romance. The last 100 pages of this book got even better, and the last fifty had me going "OMG!!!!" I received an electronic copy of this book for review, but rest assured, had I been holding a physical copy, I would have been white-knuckling it in a death grip even the most dedicated wrestler would admire.

I think this book's biggest failing is actually the genre. It's forced to dial down the cruelty, the sexuality, and the violence, so sometimes the tone feels a little off. THE HUNGER GAMES, as much as I loved it, had the same problem. YA is still very puritanical, with good reason, but sometimes when authors try to push the envelope within the confines of the parameters set by the age group they're writing for, certain topics can feel either unexplored or disconcertingly tame. I almost feel like this would have been better written for an adult audience, with older characters.

That small qualm aside, I really enjoyed THE CRUEL PRINCE. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed THE HUNGER GAMES and VAMPIRE ACADEMY. I loved that Jude started off selfish and kind of petulant, and gradually learned to hone her cruelty and her callousness into a very successful weapon. I like it when heroines are powerful and dangerous and morally grey, and given roles typically given to male characters in the genre. I also loved the dark prince, Cardan. He and Jude have a real "Reylo" dynamic, and I foresee a "Fifty Shades of Fae" sequel somewhere down the line for them. #Yaass

P.S. Still not sure if I mentioned THAT I HATE TARYN A LOT? :D :D

P.P.S. Not sure if I understand all the need for subterfuge in the court. Everyone made a big deal of how faeries can't lie, so why not just line everyone up and say "Are you scheming against me or participating in schemes against me, either directly or indirectly?" and then kill anyone who says "yes" or refuses to answer? Why go through all the rigamarole of involving extra spies? See, I'm a mortal and I'd make a better faerie ruler than half these losers. #ACourtOfSmutAndCommonSense

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

5 stars
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
260 reviews4,945 followers
February 4, 2018
"If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse."

I see why people call Holly Black 'Queen of the Faeries'. Hoooly wow. What a delightfully dark, twisty novel.

If you know anything about me, I'm all about the court politics & intrigue, villains & anti-heroes, and schemes within plots within schemes. This book had my name written ALL over it.

Okay so here's the basic rundown without giving away too much. Jude and Taryn are twins. Vivi is their older sister. It turns out, Vivi's real father, Madoc, is fae. When the girls are young, he comes for Vivi, kills their parents, and sees Jude and Taryn as his responsibilities since their mother was his... ex. To put it lightly. He whisks them away to Faerie to be raised alongside his family. Having grown up with Madoc as the only father they knew, Taryn and Jude have come to love him like a father, while Vivi promises to always hate him for what he did.

Being the general's daughters, Jude and her sisters are raised alongside the High King's sons and daughters. Each sibling has their own group of friends, spies, etc.

Enter Cardan.

Cardan is the youngest prince, and on the surface, the cruelest. Anyone who gets in his way, annoys him, or disrespect him, ends up paying dearly. Jude hates him with a passion, to say the least. He has that whole 'school bully' syndrome and is impossibly arrogant (all the makings of a delicious prince, amirite?)

Jude just wants to belong. Unlike her sister, she loves the land of Faerie. Her dream is to become a knight. She wants a position of power that will earn her freedom and respect. But after being bullied and harassed by Cardan and his lackeys, Jude is fed up.

"My good intentions evaporate on the wind. My blood is on fire, boiling in my veins. I do not have much power, but here is what I have - I can force his hand. Cardan might want to hurt me, but I can make him want to hurt me worse."

So we have a bit of a prank war, but a life-threatening one. Jude stops trying to control her temper, and she starts fighting back. She gets in a few good swings at Cardan, which royally pisses him off in the most delightful way. It catches the attention of the rest of the royal family, including Prince Dain. He meets Jude in secret and offers her a position of power if she spies for him. Dain is the chosen son, the one that will inherit the crown via his father's favor.

So Jude accepts his offer and becomes part of his 'Court of Shadows'.

Political games insue. Jude gets in over her head. (Or does she?)

I don't want to say more than that, but that's the general idea of the opening. Only, it becomes so much more. Jude discovers secrets within secrets about the court, and with the coronation coming up, things get especially intense. Not to mention, her twin sister says she has a secret lover but she refuses to reveal his identity.

When shit hits the fan, oh man, it gets SO good. The ending was phenomenal, and the sequel is set up to be AMAZING and I dont know how I'm going to wait... *screams into the void*

That. Epilogue.


Bah, ok. Anyway... Jude is a fantastic main character. She's cunning, witty, and so supremely dark. Perhaps darker than Cardan himself at times. She's complex (so is everyone else) and relatable and easily has one of the strongest voices I've come across in a YA novel. I loved how complicated things get with her sisters and Madoc's family, and how buried some of the secrets are. Oh man. What a cool (and awful) family dynamic. I also looooved how vivid the royal family is. Of course, Cardan is my favorite, because I am utterly helpless when it comes to characters like him. Is there ever something between him and Jude, you ask? I admit nothing, but if you could pass me your fan...

Ugh, and the world. Holly Black's writing is lush in every way imaginable, and she excels in bringing such a fantastical world to life. None of it felt made up. She doesn't shy away from anything dark, either. This isn't a pretty fairie land, folks. Here be monsters.

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Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,962 followers
February 19, 2021
Cardan Greenbriar holds my heart in his hands, and he looks rather smug about it, the absolutely perfect insufferable jerk.

This is one of those books where the faerie are actually scary. Yes, they're pretty immature, but they're cruel, terrible people who play with mortals for fun. These are not your Sarah J. Maas fae. They can't control the wind or change shapes -- but they can force humans to do their will, which is almost worse. Unless you wrap a string of rowan berries around your neck or turn your stockings inside-out.

Jude and Cardan are characters that make the plot seem like a side thing. I could watch them fold laundry and be perfectly content. Their dynamic is the best thing I've seen since Rowaelin. I noticed farther along that Jude and Cardan are literally just genderswapped versions of each other. She pretends like Cardan is the worst person ever, but just compare them, and you'll see what I mean. They both crave power over others. They both deceive each other without a second thought. It's the perfect love-hate relationship.

My Review of The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black | Maria Hossain

And that's why I don't think it's problematic. I've seen reviews criticizing Jurdan, but they both tormented each other. Jude ultimately betrayed Cardan in the end. This is one of those relationships where they'll either get married or kill each other. (Please don't kill each other. I love you both too much.)

I would welcome Cardan to the part of my heart specifically set aside for cinnamon rolls, but he would probably burn the whole thing down while muttering something about decomposing mortals. Sam Cortland could never.

I'm just going to stand here in awe while all of you actually do productive things. I didn't see any of those twists coming. I know I probably should have. But I didn't. And while some may say the plot was too convenient, or too basic, or too convoluted--I was never bored. Not once. Do you have any idea how long it's been since I've been this invested in a novel? Too long, my friends.

There is just one thing I would have liked to see more of in The Cruel Prince, and that's worldbuilding. I still have no idea what a Seelie Court and an Unseelie Court are, and I suppose I could look it up, but I would have preferred an explanation in the book. Maybe I'll get one in The Wicked King. Even though the atmosphere in Elfhame was just perfect, I wanted to know more about the world outside that of the faerie, and how it all connected to the human world. But that's not enough to take off more than a star, because Cardan and Jude have stolen my heart, and I'm pressing charges.

Buddy read with my fellow Jude stan. You can find her review HERE.
Profile Image for SK.
310 reviews2,743 followers
May 23, 2023
Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love

It's simply perfect. I cannot believe it took me this long to read it. Y'all were so right 😭❤️

The plot twists, the drama, the characters and how morally grey they are 🤌🤌 Oh how I binged it. I get it y'all. I GET IT 😭❤️

This is your sign to read it or even re-read it.


It's happening y'all. Am so nervous to start with this but LET'S GOOOOO. I want to love this 🤞
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,095 reviews17.7k followers
August 6, 2020
...I have no idea how this review got deleted, but here is a reupload from my blog!

If I cannot be better than them, I will be so much worse.

God, this book killed me. The Cruel Prince has just about what you’d expect from Black: court intrigue, an atmosphere of terror, vaguely dark romance, and a main character who is a terrible person, but is also so interesting. Plus some interesting dynamics and setup for an even better sequel. Needless to say, I found it delightful.

I think Black’s tendency is to start a story with a badass opening, then spend 200 pages on slow buildup. At first I thought it was just because this is a series beginner, but the more I think about it, the more I realize her stories never have a typical growth and climax. Instead, she slowly escalates tension until suddenly the situation is horrible and you’re left wondering how these characters even got there. It’s an odd style, and one that will be divisive among readers, but it works for me.

The plot here is just as slow-burning as usual, perhaps even more so. I personally thought it suited the story quite well. Even when I was slumping, this book was easy to come back to and enjoy. I have to admit, at spots the court intrigue got confusing. Main characters were easy to remember, but I couldn’t tell most of the Elder King’s children apart.

Maybe my favorite part of this book was the character work. Holly Black is very talented at getting side characters to read real, even without much focus on them. But the real strength of this book is Jude’s flawed, morally grey character. I fucking loved her. She’s not the greatest person, but she’s so incredibly aware of it that I found it hard not to love her.

I also wanted to spare a paragraph for the romance. There is a sort-of romance in the first half, and it is honestly the weakest part of the first three-quarters. (See my updates for this book.)

Thankfully, this thrown-in and tensionless romance is improved upon further into the book. I’m not going to spoil it, exactly, but we all know Black loves her Hades/Persephone-esque dynamics. The dynamic between the two characters who I think will get together really turned me off in the first half; I was looking out for some kind of lacking-in-consent bad-boys-are-hawt type thing. That’s not what you’ll find here. This is much more of a genuine Hades/Persephone dynamic than a bad-boys-are-hot romance. I’ve written about the difference before on my blog, but this is one of the better handlings of it I’ve seen. There was one scene in this book between them that… well, I think my brain just screamed “holy shit” for a minute straight. One of those scenes I’m going to bookmark and reread over and over again.

Anyway, I definitely loved this. When is book two coming out again?

Brief note before I finish this review, and this doesn’t need much commentary: Ben and Severin had a cameo in this. I almost cried, embarrassingly enough. The Darkest Part of the Forest is one of my favorite books ever. According to a couple other reviews, some of the side characters are also cameos from her first fae series, if you’re at all interested! I didn’t notice because I’ve never read it. But I do like that she’s built a whole world, without requiring you to read every book for comprehension.

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
July 25, 2021
some books are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

this book is all of the above. my mind simply cannot comprehend what i just read because its greatness transcends human understanding. what a blessed world we live in where this kind of greatness exists for us mere mortals.

i cant even fathom what sort of perfection ‘the wicked king’ will be. the last half of this book is one of the best build-ups to a sequel i have ever read. like, are you kidding me!? holly black is not of this world and this book is proof. very much looking forward to the further greatness of this series!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,862 reviews30.1k followers
February 1, 2018
Well, despite marking this as "currently reading" (I put books there that I plan to read within the next week or two) I finally cracked this bad boy open today...and finished it in one three-hour siting.

So, if that's not an indication of something being a seriously above average read, I don't know what is.


Jude was a really edgy, imperfect, relatable character and I really liked her.

So often, I want characters to do something - maybe say something or do something I want them to do in a specific moment - and I am left feeling frustrated and annoyed when they don't.

They DON'T deliver the nasty comeback I feel someone so amazingly deserves.
They DON'T punch the face of the asshole who has done them wrong.
They DON'T say "fuck you" to the person who just betrayed them.

But, Jude?

Home girl DID all of those things and more and I loved it.

She saw that proverbial high road on some occasions, the one other characters sometimes begged her to take and she said:


Get it, girl.

On top of that, the plot here was pretty well thought out and I enjoyed the twists and turns, none of which felt convenient or trite.

It will definitely be interesting to see what happens with the plot and certain character relationships in the next book.

The wait will be long.

Oh and PS...fuck you, Taryn.

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Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,749 followers
August 24, 2022
Once upon a time, a wicked girl with a cold, cold heart traipsed through a forest so light and stark. Trees of clean bark. Branches dangling with folk art. And it was thus she came upon a hole so, so dark.

Our restless little devil looked through the hole and glimpsed trees of bark covered in blood, branches twisted and falling with a thud, screams coming out of the mud that had seen much brutal flood.

So the girl backed up, and ran, and jumped.

I fell into the Holly Black hole for fun so dark.
And now, it seems, I am stuck.

“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks,” Taryn says. “Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”

Before picking up The Cruel Prince I, of course, had expectations. No, scratch that, I didn’t have expectations, I never do, never dare hope—I usually try to not expect much of a book so I wouldn't be disappointed—what I had was simply assumptions about how it was gonna be. And I was completely and utterly wrong. People make this seem like a romance-oriented book; it is not. This book is less about the romance (which only starts to show itself a little by the end) and more about games, intrigue and, most importantly, the characters. It’s about anger. Betrayal. Revenge. Secrets and, above all, power. This is the dangerous tale of a human girl who grew up in faerieland and has endured much cruelty and pain, is bullied at school, because of being mortal and weak.

She will show you she is not.
Let no one call Jude Duarte weak.

That’s what comes of hungering for something: You forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down.

She will be the human who looks at all that faeries have, acknowledges that she, as a human, is unworthy of those things, still wants them anyways, and thus takes them. Faeries might always be better than her, but she can be much, much worse. It should not surprise you that I adore her, then.

The Cruel Prince is a cruel, enchanting tale of a cruel, enchanting people in a cruel, enchanting world. And all that I said are the reasons why I will love it forever. With you, to the ends of time. As always, you can check out my chosen soundtrack for the series at the end of the review—I went slightly wild there and made a mash up of the three books’ covers to create one for my playlist.

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

CW ➾ abuse, bullying, drugging, speciesism (faeries over humans rather than humans over animals), self harm

✧ Storyline ✧

One ordinary night a not so ordinary man drops from the sky into an ordinary human neighborhood riding a not so ordinary horse. He dismounts and walks up to one of the many ordinary houses and, raising his not so ordinary fist, he knocks.

The night is no longer ordinary.

For inside the house, three little girls watch TV and eat fish sticks with ketchup. For one bears half-faerie blood, while the pair of full human twins do not. For an scared woman comes running from the kitchen and the man calls her wife and traitor. For he kills her and takes the three little girls to faerieland. For in Faerie, there are no fish sticks, no ketchup, and no television.

“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.”

What there is in Fearie is a court ruled by the High King, presiding over the three factions of the Seelie Court, the Unseelie court, and the wild fey. And that king has a general—a faerie whose wife left him pregnant with his heir, a faerie who slaughtered a family one not so ordinary night and took three human girls.

Jude is the youngest of the three, the younger twin, and she wants nothing more than to belong, craves nothing more than being knighted and a permanent part of the court. Even if most of the faeries hate humans; even if she is bullied at school by the youngest prince and his gang; even if she is belittled and bloodied and nearly killed. So it should come as a surprise to no one that she would lie and spy and become a vengeful murderess who changes the game. It does anyways.

“I am tired of caring,” I say. “Why should I?”
“Because they could kill you!”
“They better,” I say to her. “Because anything less than that isn’t going to work.”

✧ Storytelling ✧

Shame on you, Mary, for waiting so long to pick up a masterpiece of Holly Black’s. A tale so well told. A twisted fairytale so mesmerising. An atmosphere so immersive and pulsing. An eye for detail and consideration and clever themes and additions. A hand wielding words and metaphors as a master swordsman would a sword.

I read my first Black book and did not look back.

“I’ve seen many impossible things. I have seen the acorn before the oak. I have seen the spark before the flame. But never have I seen such as this: A dead woman living. A child born from nothing.”

✧ Characters ✧

Jude: Call her a wrecking ball if you want, call her an annoying bitch if you dare, I would only say you don���t comprehend the joy of jumping into the canyon of anger, the peace in throwing rules and caution into the wind, the freedom in crossing the line and embracing the glorious beauty of revenge. “It’s the thrill of leaping without being able to see the ground below you, right before you realize that’s called falling.” I would say that you’ve never known the colours. I would say you are blind.

She is a prideful, unyielding fighter who hates being vulnerable, being controlled. She is a vengeful, violent liar who adores power, adores attention. She is angry and dark and probably needs to see a therapist but, if you told her so, would most likely tell you to go eff yo self and that she can manage herself quite nicely thank you very much. And if you think she’s starting to sound like me...then whatever do you mean *smiles sweetly*

“If you hurt me, I wouldn’t cry. I would hurt you back.”

I’d heard criticism of Jude’s reaction to the trauma of her childhood and agreed with it for the beginning chapters, but then I realised that it’s merely that she handles the trauma differently.

What Jude does is escape thinking about what happened, flee her feelings and fear; and it naturally results in her becoming out of touch with her emotions. She endures and pushes it into the back of her brain due to not knowing another way to cope and that’s the way that comes naturally to her. She is always afraid, always on alert, so she’s grown numb and used to it, so she’s turned tired and angry, so she lashes out. In fact, her mental state is captured accurately, because our personality shapes our response to trauma the same way trauma shapes our personality. She doesn’t have nightmares not because her trauma has been ignored, but because she can’t calm her nerves enough to even sleep.

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.

And if you put that kind of personality under pressure, it acts much like an elastic object: springing upon release, going wild and hitting everything at close range. She was raised in a house of butchery by a man who delights in war and death and conflict. And because such a man was her father and such a man killed her father, this is the birth of a murderer. Her composed smiles coming unraveled, coming undone.

“I thought I was supposed to be good and follow the rules. But I am done with being weak. I am done with being good. I think I am going to be something else.”

Cardan: A few months ago a friend of mine forced me to watch the kdrama Boys Over Flowers in exchange for me asking her to watch the BBC Sherlock; the deal was that we’d each watch 6 episodes of our respective shows and stop after that if we’re no longer interested. I, ofc, stopped after 6 because I just can’t connect with kdaramas. But I’m glad I watched those episodes, because I can now write this: Cardan Greenbriar is literally and thoroughly Gu Jun-pyo from Boys Over Flowers.

But where I only found Jun-pyo entertaining, I love Cardan, probably because of Jude’s difference from the female lead of the show. With Jun-pyo it was just a petulant boyo lashing out and being angry and bullying and abusing a powerless girl (who still got back at him impressively but still, their personalities where the opposites) while with Cardan it’s a sparring match.

I called him “a simple old-school bully” the very first time we were introduced, and I was both right and wrong. Right because he is an old-school bully, yet wrong because he is not simply so but playfully; Cardan is a clever cruel prince, an angry spoiled/abused child, and a charming adorable coward. Too young, too weak, too mean, too precious! But not ambitious, not like Jude. I blame you guys for being disappointed at first; it was unfair to feel annoyed that he couldn’t fill the shoes I’d thought Holly Black was intending for him when she wasn’t intending those shoes for him. He has his own shiny shoes to stand in and THANK GOD.

“There’s safety in being awful.”

Locke: First character who intrigued me with his bored, manipulative ways. I spent a long time just repeating what’s his game what’s his game in my notes, I swear, and I find it rather perfect that his game is just that—a game. This drama-loving fox is one I simultaneously want to kiss and kill and absolutely cannot get enough of.

Taryn: Jude’s twin sister is much like her while still being the opposite. She, too, wants to belong and would do anything to achieve it; she, too, can be cold and manipulative as the faeries and craves their exotic danger, growing used to recognising bad things as good; and she, too, has had to become something else to survive, something not so human. But where Jude is wildfire, she is ice; one is raging, the other composed. Both burn you in the end.

“Desire is an odd thing. As soon as it’s sated, it transmutes. If we receive golden thread, we desire the golden needle.”

☆ Those aren’t the only ones that made an impact: Madoc with his anger issues and twisted love, Vivi with her raging selfish heart that encourages the same trait in others, Oriana who is way more than she seems. All layered, none all-evil, being a mix of cruel and gentle. I heard someone say this book has an all-Slytherin cast, and I’m inclined to agree—no wonder I enjoy them all so much.

✧ Relationships ✧

“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.

Romance: Can I just say Chapter 25 & 26? BECAUSE CHAPTER 25 & 26! To be frank with you, I wasn’t sure at first about these two as I had my doubts regarding Cardan being someone who could possibly match Jude in strength, but I now adore them because I realised the nature of dynamic is a game where she is the one with the power (while being terrified of him ever having any power) and he is drawn to that. He likes to challenge her, question her, try to best her, while actually delighting in her holding a dagger at his throat.

They spar; they fight; they have (more or less) the same personality, liars and deceivers and and power-oriented people. Their only difference is that he’s a pleasure-seeking coward where she’s a purposeful warrior, and that somehow makes them an even better match.

“He’s flint, you’re tinder.”

Familial Bonds: I’ve already talked too much so I’ll just say that the sisterhood, brother-sister bond, father-daughter relationship...all are written tangibly, conveying the complicated and contradictory feelings that come with being a family (and one so messed up as this) quite perfectly. It was a gem to read.

✧ Worldbuilding ✧

Faerie might be beautiful, but its beauty is like a golden stag’s carcass, crawling with maggots beneath his hide, ready to burst.

This land of beautiful nightmares, these creatures of twilight and glamours, these clawed hands bearing nevermore and faerie fruit with their superstitious-like practices (e.g. having a necklace of dried rowan berries or wearing your stockings inside out) that are not simply superstitions, all serve to exceptionally bring this world into life and prove that world building is, indeed, Holly Black’s ultimate strength.

In the end, reading The Cruel Prince with its mythical magic and all the cruelties, deceptions, and (hypocritical) prejudice of its people, feels like wandering through a fairytale that chose the path on its left somewhere down the road, refusing to go right. And you bet I always choose the path on my left as well.

✧ Companions ✧

Book series playlist: Spotify URL

Books in series:
➳ The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) ★★★★★
The Lost Sisters (The Folk of the Air, #1.5) ★★★★☆
The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) ★★★★★
The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3) ★★★★☆
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5) ☆☆☆☆☆
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
796 reviews2,869 followers
November 14, 2022
“Have I told you how hideous you look tonight?” Cardan asks, leaning back in the elaborately carved chair, the warmth of his words turning the question into something like a compliment.
“No” I say, glad to be annoyed back into the present. “Tell me.”
"I can't.”

august 2022
i hate this book and the power it has over me. 5 stars could never be enough for the magnificence that is this series.
in case you're wondering, kiss with a fist by florence+the machine is the song i picked for jude/cardan in this book.

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚.──
“So I am to sit here and feed you information,” Cardan says, leaning against a hickory tree. “And you’re to go charm royalty? That seems entirely backward.”
I fix him with a look. “I can be charming. I charmed you, didn’t I?”
He rolls his eyes. “Do not expect others to share my depraved tastes.”

january 2022
...and then I said, "fuck my tbr"

post-reread thoughts: spectacular as ever. actually bumping this up to 5 stars because I'm even more obsessed with it this time around.

─── ・ 。゚☆: *.☽ .* :☆゚.──

He's wrong about me. I am going to make my mayfly life count for something.
I won't be afraid of him or of Prince Dain's censure. If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.

december 2018
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RTC when and if I ever recover from this book, which means it's never gonna come.


(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ this review is teen penguin approved! ♥
Profile Image for Afoxamongstars.
23 reviews36 followers
October 26, 2020
I absolutely cannot believe I wasted time out of my freaking life to read this "book". I don't get the hype and I hate how relationships are portrayed in the story! Authors and reviewers here on Goodreads that I trusted trust raved about this book .... and I'm here lighting the fire so I can burn the pages.....

First of all... the writing is horrendous. It's the worst case of "tell, not show" I've ever seen (Twilight was better written than this): "I did this, she did that, now I'm gonna do this ...". There was no emotion in the writing, I did not feel any attachment toward the world of "Faerieland" and I couldn't connect with the protagonist, Jude, because I wanted to slap some sense into her the entire time : she acts recklessly, even when other people warn her repeatedly not to do the thing and for the first 200 pages she does nothing but complain, indulging in a self-pity party like there is no tomorrow. My heart bleeds 0_0.

Continuing - the other characters are 2D, the plot is non-existent for the first 200+ pages and the grand finale/epilogue everyone's been raving about....left me colder than a dead body dropped in Siberia. I could not care less.

An issue that had me concerned while reading this: the character who is heavily hinted as being the love interest: almost every scene in which he makes an appearance showcases how abusive he is, especially towards the MC and no one (from the reviews I have read) flags this as a major problem? . I have little patience for female (and male, for that matter) authors who write abusive love interests and then absolve them of all the nasty acts they have perpetrated . In the world of endemic sexual harassment and abusive behaviour, in the world of #metoo and the horrifying stories of women being treated like less than dirt, why do we fall for this type of characters? Why do we keep buying these books? And why do we praise the authors who write them???????.

I've wasted enough electricity writing a review for a book that will surely be my worst read of the year.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,304 reviews44k followers
May 9, 2021
I know you missed my star auctions… Here comes the new one! Let’s start with five billion! Did I hear five centillion! Are you out of your mind? I don’t think there are centillion stars on the universe! Well, red head lady slaps the bidder and gave this book FIVE CENTILLION STARS anyways! SOLD with an all exclusive trip to fae world ( limitless Chardonnay and tequila shots included)

Awwwwwwww I’m in love with this book! This is definitely a Tarantino story taken place at the Fae World and we have hero and heroine (half human half villanelle) who are cheater, liar, playing dirty and unfair and they’re match made in heaven. Normally I want to punch the people with those attributes but I’m drawn to them! I officially let them under my skin and now I’m singing “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better”

This book is dark, entertaining, captivating and addictive. We have blood freezing, heart throbbing parts like GOT’s Red Wedding. But the worst part is it finishes so fast now my hands are shaking, legs are tapping, eyes are getting watery, I want it more and I have only one book left! I know the second one is even better. And as soon as I finish it, I’ll suffer from worse addiction withdrawals! There are 49 days for third book’s release ( shit October is 31 days so it is 50 days!!!! NOOOOOO!!!)

As a precaution my husband hid my kindle to prevent me starting the second book and locked me in our wine cellar (Ok, kidding, we’re not rich! He locked me at my bedroom with one case of Chardonnay, enough food for feeding an army -equal to my one course meal!-) but he forgot I had my spare key. Anyways, I stopped ironing his clothes and dishwashing as a punishment (Well, actually I never do them but don’t bother! I’m 2000’s Peggy Bundy with no children and better hairstyle!)

So the things made me falling in love and craving 200 sequel books of this series are:

Two misfit, outsider, black sheep of the families, did I tell you how much I love those wicked hero and ruthless heroine? : Jude and Cardan are my new Mickey and Mallory, Joker and Harley Quinn, Honey Bunny and Pumpkin.

Jude witnessed to her parents’ murder when she was a little girl and has been whisked away to live in Faerie world where she is neglected, bullied and unwanted from the others.

And Cardan is youngest son of High King, tormented by his own brothers and grow up in a world of wildness, cruelness, savageness. He hasn’t been loved, pampered and only way to survive is acting like he didn’t care anything about power games and politics, staying drunk and making vicious and wicked circle of friends: Nicasia: power thirsty, Locke: drama king, Valerian: violence lover.
Less lovable and bringers of my slap urge: Locke and Taryn ( no spoilers but they are spineless human beings! Correction: woman being and faerie being)

-CLIFFHANGER: I was expecting something surprising will come out and my spider senses didn’t surprise me (I climb to the walls to celebrate it)

-FAST PACING, BLOODY ACTION PARTS, MANIPULATIONS, MIND AND POWER GAMES: I wish Holly Black took the seat of the last season of GOT and gave the bloody, violent and satisfying ending we deserved. At least she didn’t write something about a raven king, right?

-LOVE STORY: Those characters are in love with power and they don’t know what it means to love somebody but they’re hopelessly drawn each other. This is Shakespearean kind of tragic story and I can feel it doesn’t have a proper HEA! But this obsessive, uncontrollable attraction of dark hero and heroine put a big, widen Joker smile on my face. It’s hot as hell!

So 50 days to 3rd book and I’ll wait at least two weeks for the second book. ( It’s Catch 22 because reading and waiting are equally painful! I wish I could be patient enough till all the books release and I can devour them one by one) As a summary: My vote for Best Fantasy this year is obvious! This is also gotten its place at my all-time favorite books list!
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