The Cruel Prince is book one in the Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black. This book is incredibly popular in the fantasy genre but until now, I had avoided reading it for a couple of reasons. One, it’s YA. I don’t have an issue with the Young Adult genre but I’m pushing 30; I can’t always relate or be entertained by books geared toward a younger audience. Two, it’s a bully romance. I’m all about enemies to lovers but I really wasn’t sure how I would feel about a relationship between a bully and their victim. Thankfully, I was very pleasantly surprised by this book so let’s talk about it. This review will be spoiler free.
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.
- Rating– ⭐⭐⭐⭐
If you have followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I love fantasy and I especially love stories about fae. Holly Black’s version of the fae is quite possibly my new favorite; though, I do love Margaret Rogerson’s take on them in An Enchantment of Ravens. The fae in The Cruel Prince are beautiful but definitely other. They may have furry ears or talons or tails. They’re dangerous and while a human could love them, it’s probably not the best idea. Everything about them and the world they live in, called Elfhame, isn’t safe for humans.
This is the world that Jude and her sisters are forced to grow up in after their parents are murdered. They struggle to find their place and are constantly torn between wanting to escape and just wanting to belong. Jude’s older sister, Vivienne, is determined to return to the human world while her twin sister, Taryn, is determined to fall in love and find her place in Elfhame through marriage. Jude falls somewhere in the middle and has an intense love/hate relationship with the world of Faerie and with the fae.
I liked this book so much more than I expected to. While it is YA, it has a more mature storyline. I wouldn’t call it dark but there are hints of darkness, which I expect will be explored more in the later books. The characters really add to this darkness because they’re all morally gray. None of them are all good or all bad, they’re deeply flawed. I don’t think I truly loved or hated any of them because they all did something horrible at one point or another.
As for the romance, there really wasn’t much of it. This book basically set the stage for the main romance but if you’re looking for something steamy and intense, this isn’t the book for you. Overall, I’m really enjoying this story. It’s not a favorite (yet) but it is really well written and I’m excited to see where it goes.
I always try to keep my reviews for the first book in a series spoiler free but that means there’s SO much I can’t talk about. My review for the next book, The Wicked King, will be much more in depth. If you’ve read this book or series, let me know what you thought about it. Thanks for reading and have a great day!