The Cruel Prince: 4.3

The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Rating: 4.3/5

“Maybe Oriana isn’t entirely wrong to worry that we might one day get caught up in it, be carried away by it, and forget to take care.  I can see why humans succumb to the beautiful nightmare of the Court, why they willingly drown in it.”

Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

Allow me to begin by explaining that I am a newer fan of Holly Black’s work. I never had the pleasure of reading The Spiderwick Chronicles growing up, and BOY does the rich world building of The Cruel Prince make me regret that. Black’s vivid descriptions bring the fae to life in a way that makes the reader both yearn and fear their world.

Perfectly imperfect, Jude’s character is a breath of fresh air. Her naïveté is realistic, and I found myself agreeing with her decisions. Jude is a kick-butt independent young lady who is rational and works well with others. She’s passionate, strong, intelligent, loyal, and one of my new favorite protagonists.

Jude and her twin sister Taryn are humans who were raised in a fae world.  There’s this whole thing about their human mother being a runaway fae bride, and then being murdered by her fae husband. Because men.  Well, she also faked her death and ran away with his human blacksmith, successfully cuckolding him, but she didn’t deserve to die.  Aside from being, well, a murderer, Madoc is actually really honorable, and takes Jude and Taryn to live with him.  After he kills their parents.  He also takes their half-sister Vivi, who is actually his child.

I loved Jude’s character.  She could be a bit rough at times, but Ms. Black made it very clear that it was a necessary trait in the dangerous world she inhabits.  She was wonderfully refreshing as an independent protagonist, especially when so many protagonists portray a false sense of independence.  Jude was very much her own person, and I enjoyed seeing her go toe to toe with the fae.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the other prominent female characters. Oriana plays a damsel in distress, Vivi a rebellious teenager, and Taryn… well Jude’s twin is certainly the yin to her yang. Despite the intricate novelty of the world that Ms. Black has crafted, the stereotypes of these remaining female characters are tired.

I would argue that the only real character growth we see in this book is Cardan, the cruel prince himself, and even that is debatable. Ms. Black considerably shifts the key roles of the character’s around, but for better of worse, their personalities remain static.

Stylistically, everything from the world building to the story arc was brilliant. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Wicked King when it comes out in 2019. It was the lack of growth in characters and boring stereotypes that left the story wanting. Is it worth reading?

Absolutely. Should you clear your schedule? Not so much.

Do you agree? Want to change my mind? Comment below! Maybe there’s something I missed the first time around.

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