For What It's Worth

Thursday, February 22, 2018

review: the cruel prince (the folk of the air #1) by holly black


26032825Of 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. ~
Goodreads

Source: Library

Review:

I am not a huge fan of fae stories but I did enjoy Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest about them, so I was looking forward to giving The Cruel Prince a try. Avoiding spoilers and hype while awaiting my copy from the library was a struggle but I think the delay helped temper my expectations and I ultimately enjoyed it!

Jude her twin, Taryn, and their older sister, Vivianne, are taken from the human world after Vivi’s fae father finds and murders their parents to claim Viv. Under some twisted sense of honor, he believes he is required to raise and care for all of the girls – not just Vivi – in Faerieland.

Both Jude and Taryn, as humans, and struggle to fit in. They are considered ugly and weak compared to the beautiful and immortal fae and are only tolerated because their "father", Madoc, serves as the High King’s general.

Vivi has never forgiven Madoc for the death of her parents and is still defiant but Jude and Taryn, having been younger at the time, are torn between hate for what he did and a fondness for him as the only father figure they've known. It's an interesting dynamic. The half fae daughter, Vivienne fits in but longs to go back to humanity but the twins, who are human, want to find a way to fit in Faerieland. Jude by becoming a Knight for the King and Taryn through marriage. 

As the group of young Lords and Ladies – children of the royal fae – up their taunts of Jude and Taryn to dangerous levels – Jude starts fighting back leading to a game of one-upmanship against their leader, Cardon, that goes far beyond simply holding your own and places Jude as a potential King Maker.

I REALLY enjoyed this book but had a few conflicting thoughts so I’ll break them down below:

Worldbuilding: I love that both the human and Faerieland co-exsist and the sisters travel between the two. There are cool creatures like goblins and mermaids and of course the fae and Black does a good job of describing them without getting bogged down in all the details. That might be a negative to some readers who want lush descriptions but as someone who gets lost while reading fantasy – this was a plus for me.

Characters: Everyone has dueling motivations and complex backgrounds that shape their actions. I loved this. I particularly liked the complexity of Jude’s relationship with Madoc. He killed her parents yet shows a tenderness to the the girls that leaves her conflicted. It was weird how she almost forgave and admired Madoc – yet hated the other fae for lesser transgressions.

I didn’t love the portrayal of the royal heirs. Yes, they were creepy and cruel yet alluring but it felt overly simplified. They acted like a frat/sorority of spoiled rich kids engaged in a hazing ritual. This was generic mean kids material. Although the overall story gets much darker later in the book.

And of course we have the tortured soul/bad boy/potential romance material type - Cardon. Yes, there was more to him and I think he's going to be SUPER interesting in book #2, but in this book, I didn't get the attraction.

I should add that the romantic elements are very minor. The Cruel Prince is not about a girl going gaga over a guy. Jude has way more going on and isn't afraid to throw down to get it.

As they play their games, their fates start to intertwine.. They must make allies out of enemies and enemies out of friends and loved ones.

And despite all these complexities and the moral ambiguity – I never felt too attached to anyone or wowed overall by the story.

Yet, I really liked it. Does that make sense??? lol

The Cruel Prince is a dark, twisty tale of jealousy, cruelty, betrayals and political intrigue and I thoroughly enjoyed it but I wasn't in the OMG this book was amazing camp.

If you're interesting in a few different reviews for The Cruel Prince - here are my pal Amber from Du Livre's positive 4.5 star review or Aimee, Always 2.5 star review

48 comments:

  1. I think I got to about 30% of this before I gave up, I've read a lot of bad books and I didn't want this to be yet another one so maybe I'll pick it up another time. That being said, the whole mean kids being mean because they could get away with it and making Jude do all sorts of stuff was a huge reason I couldn't get into it as much as I hoped.

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    1. That whole thing was ridiculous. That was my least favorite thing about the book. I know it was cruel and supposed to show how evil they could be but they're fae - and instead actied like HS brats.

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  2. I was in the OMG camp on this one. I don't read a lot of fantasy and the fae interest me and so glad I tried it. I agree with a lot of what you said and they were a lot of the reasons it worked for me. Excited for book 2. Great review!

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    1. I don't usually like the fae so I'm happy I liked it as much as I did lol I think book #2 will actually be better now that all the groundwork has been laid out.

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  3. I'm not terribly interested in this one, and I have heard really mixed things about this one. I guess it's a hit or miss type of book. I'm glad to hear that you really liked it though!! :)

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I can see both sides on this one. It has some amazing things and some slow/annoying things lol

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  5. I agree with so much of this! I never felt emotionally attached to anyone, yet I enjoyed the overall story. You totally made sense, but I think that's because I've also read the book! Lol!

    Ugh, I also hated how the royals were portrayed. They seemed like oversimplified bullies. The one guy she's alone with on the tower? His name eludes me... he has so much hatred that is only briefly explained. What was his deal? And I'm wondering if what he did at the end will stick. It didn't really elaborate on how that works.

    Cardon was just obnoxious.

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    1. I was absorbed in the story but wasn't ever WOWED.

      Honestly, I thought the whole royal cruelty thing, although horrible, came off as cheesy and silly. I mean - aren't they smarter and more powerful than that?? Shouldn't the girls know that's how they are?? And yeah that dude...all those kids were just bratty.

      I'm still sort of curious for book #2 though because...that ending

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  6. I might like it, I might not. YA is so hard

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    1. oooh I'm going to gamble and say no. So many readers said they were bored with the first half so you would probably never make it to the good stuff lol

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  7. Hmmm, Black has written some of my favorite books but she's also written one that I felt a little "meh" about (the vampire one everyone loved)I want to read it and I'm glad to hear romance isn't the focus but I think I'm going for the audio. It sounds like a good choice to read while I'm cooking/cleaning.

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    1. This is only my second full book by her. I tried the Curseworkers series but that didn't work for me so I dnf'd

      I think audio is a good way to go with this one!

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  8. I've heard SO many good things about this book but I am worried after all the hype it'll turn out to be a let down. I'm kinda re-assured that you enjoyed it without being in the 'OMG i was amazing' camp. :) However, I need my romantic entanglements, lol. I'm betting I'll struggle if the romantic potential isn't enough to ensnare me.
    I'm currently trying to get it from my library but I have a feeling book two will be released before I get my mitts on it!

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    1. There are romantic-ish entanglements. It's hard to say without spoiling but yeah...a few entanglements and a potential for another.

      You might be better off getting #1 &#2 together. Cliffie!

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  9. I like fae stories if they are done well and I find them entertainig. This sounds like a good book with a few problems. Not sure if I'd like it or not.

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    1. I don't love fae stories. Their so manipulative that almost everything you read isn't true and I just get tired of it after a while lol

      but I've liked Black's so far. But really, she doesn't' dig too deep into it so maybe that's why?

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  10. Yeah, I'm glad you tried this and ended up enjoying it. What twists, right?! I'm excited for sure for book two. :)

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  11. I have been hearing good things about this one. Glad you enjoyed it.

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    1. Overall it was more of a win for me despite my few issues.

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  12. So.... I have loved some Holly Black books SO much (White Cat trilogy) but I am really not a fan of fae stories at all. So I'm super nervous about this but have it waiting at the library and you have made me feel hopeful that I might love it. Or at least like it.
    Jen Ryland Reviews

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    1. I think you *might* like it but I know you will be super irritated by the same things that I was lol

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  13. I'm conflicted on this one. On the one hand I want to try Holly Black and I do like fae stories, but at the same time... I don't know, it just sounds okay? lol I do like the sound of the worldbuilding though, especially that they can pass back and forth and that Faerie and Earth coexist. kinda cool.

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    1. It is...okay lol

      What I did like, and think you would too, is all the moral ambiguity going on.

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  14. If goblins and mermaids are there, I will have a look at it :-)

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  15. Definitely sounds a bit more fantasy than what I'm accustomed to reading, but your review held my interest. And the fact that there obviously was a lot more there than just goblins and mermaids (though I do love me some mermaids so why the hell not?). Thanks for sharing this review, and hope you have a great weekend ahead! XOXO

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    1. It is - but it isn't. It's not as complex or developed as most of the fantasy books I've read. the elements are there (mermaids, fae...) but it's not overly descriptive. Which is cool for me since i get confused or bored with detailed fantasy but might annoy others.

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  16. First I saw a lot of hype about Cruel Price . All 5 star reviews then only bad reviews. I think yours is the most balanced I'e seen :) World and Character is a plus so I think Is til want to read it after your review. Great Review Karen!

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    1. Thanks Daniela. I can kind of see everyone's side with this one depending how you feel about certain things - like morality and flawed characters for example.

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  17. I wondered about this one *nods* Thanks!!

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  18. I'm in your shoes right now. I'm just waiting, twidling my thumbs, waiting FOREVER for my number to be called at the library. Yours is actually the one and only review I've read for this book. I don't want to have anything spoiled and while I love the cover, I'm kind of over all the hype. Thanks for being so honest with your review. <3

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    1. Yeah - avoid reviews if you can. They're all over the place and will probably ruin the experience for you.

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  19. So, so many bloggers have loved this one and it's not normally a book I'd read but couldn't wait to grab a copy. I bought it a few weeks ago but the hype has been out of control. I really enjoyed her Iron Trial middle grade series but haven't read any of her young adult titles as yet. Will be a little more weary going into this one now. Great review Karen and sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this a little more <3

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    1. Hype kills all books lol

      I really think it depends on how you can handle the pacing - it starts a little slower and how much you can handle morally dubious characters.

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  20. Ohh, I'm loving the sound of this one!

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    1. If you give it a try let me know what you think Vanessa!

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  21. LOL I'd just been seeing Aimee's thoughts. Quite a mix on this one. It is weird when you have issues and its not AMAZING but you're still like...but I liked it. Have been there with others.

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    1. That's happening a lot to me lately. I'm reading all over the place genre wise right now and it's making me more tolerant of things that might have annoyed me previously. lol

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  22. I like fae stories, but it's not something that immediately makes me want to buy a book. It doesn't much impact my decision either way. I do think the dynamic between the girls and the father figure sounds interesting though. And it's the complexities that moral ambiguity that have me interested in this book, but I get what you mean about not feeling too attached to the characters cuz I've felt that way about books before too. Glad you liked it though!

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    1. I loved how the murderer of her parents was still a pretty decent father - yet still a murderous kind of guy lol And his actual daughter still hates him.

      And the twin sisters want the same thing - to fit in - but go about it it in a very different way.

      Pretty interesting even if the book wasn't OMG good!

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  23. fae stories are not among my favorites but I was almost convinced to give this one a try because everyone was raving about it but then recently I've been reading more reviews with negatives besides positives. It is still on my TBR though :) Great review!

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    1. It has some interesting (non fae) family dynamics that I really liked and the fae stuff wasn't over whelming for me.

      I think if you go in with lowered expectations you might enjoy it.

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  24. So glad you ended up enjoying this one Karen! Waiting for the hype to die down/waiting for a library hold to become available is a good bet, haha. I agree with you, I don't think Cardan was all that interesting in this book but his character development has serious potential for book 2!

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  25. Being conflicted about this book is understandable. It is one of those books which is good but then because the characters are so ambiguous so they aren't easy to connect to. I instantly grew to love Jude and although she didn't always make good choices she was so interesting to read about. I can't wait to see what happens in book 2.

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    1. I really liked Jude and all tbr moral ambiguity. It was the royal heirs that fell flat for me. They felt so cartoonish to me. I think that will be fleshed out more in the next book though.

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