ARC review, book review, young adult

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (ARC Review)

Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Type: Fiction
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group)
Date published: January 2, 2018
Source: Publisher

A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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 years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.

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This book did not turn out exactly as I expected, but it was also definitely written in the style of Holly Black … so, I feel as if I should have expected what I got. Haha. But don’t get me wrong! None of this is a negative thing. This book was fantastic, and very unpredictable for me (which is great)! The writing was great, as were the characters, and the world … was one that I wanted to actually be transported into.

I’ve read Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series many years ago, and also read The Darkest Part of the Forest earlier this year. I loved those books, but always found that we were never given enough time within the land of Faerie. It’s almost as if Holly Black read my mind, because I definitely got more Faerie in The Cruel Prince! Her descriptions were also so well-done, that I felt as if I was carried away to Faerie myself, and experiencing things along with Jude. Holly Black’s Faerie is a beautiful and cruel place, and I miss it dearly. The book hangover that The Cruel Prince has left me with, is quite intense, and I don’t want to think about how long the wait will be for the next book! I wish that Holly Black had more books set in Faerie, but I believe the only other ones are the Spiderwick Chronicles, which I think I’m a little too old for. I will definitely be reading those books along with my kids when I have kids though!

Considering the fact that I usually dislike female main characters in YA (and some adult) fiction, Jude did pretty well! I thought her to be brave, ruthless, intelligent, … and did I mention brave? I didn’t find her to be the most warm of characters, but she takes care of her own, and I found myself really clicking with her. Because she has sisters, I felt connected to her in that way as well, because I have a younger sister, and understand the need to protect her in any way that I can. If my sister and I had been transported to Faerie when we were children, I would have likely turned out the same way as Jude. Some of her decisions frustrated me, but whenever that happened, I just reminded myself that I’m not in her shoes, and that she did the best that she could. I really did like Jude the best, and will not mention any other characters that I liked so as to avoid giving any spoilers!

I liked the political intrigue in this book, and found that The Cruel Prince had a lot more of this element than anything else that I’ve read by Holly Black. I really enjoy reading about Faerie nobility, and especially like reading or hearing about how they interact with one another. Jude was very believable as a character, and so were all of the other characters who made an appearance in this first book in the series! By the end of the book, I felt as if I’d known the characters for much longer than the few days that it took me to read The Cruel Prince, and I did not want to say goodbye.

Overall, this book was a delight to read, filled with adventures, intrigue, love, hate, desire, and drenched in magic. This is definitely one of those books that I wish I could forget, just so that I can re-read and experience it all over again!


Holly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare), The Darkest Part of the Forest, and her new series which begins with The Cruel Prince in January 2018. She has been a a finalist for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of the Andre Norton Award, the Mythopoeic Award and a Newbery Honor. She currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.

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17 thoughts on “The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (ARC Review)

  1. This sounds really intriguing! A lot of YA fantasy these days is so repetitive and cliche and even just reading the blurb I noticed how unique this sounded, so that got my attention.

  2. Aaaaah I’m so glad you liked it!! I’m so excited for this book and i’m ESPECIALLY excited to hear it has a lot of political intrigue because I live for that stuff! I don’t know why it hasn’t really been on my radar until a few days ago. The politics are what really sell me! I’m curious to find out what the unexpected portion was when I read it!

  3. YASSSS Flavia! to EVERYTHING! I legit wanted to be transported to Elfhame every time I picked this book up, the world building was beautifully done Jude is such a complex character & getting to understand her through her actions was such a different experience. She blew me aways that’s all I’ll say haha! Wonderful review

    1. YAAAAS! She is really complex isn’t she?! Holly Black is such a good writer haha. I can’t believe we didn’t predict some stuff, considering that it’s written in first person haha

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