“The odd thing about ambition is this: You can acquire it like a fever, but it is not so easy to shed.”
Holly Black’s latest release, The Cruel Prince, has received a ton of hype over the past month or two. The book community is absolutely raving about this novel, and I’m here to tell you that the hype is 100% warranted. I loved this.
The Cruel Prince follows Jude, after her parents are murdered by her mother’s Fae ex-husband. She and her sisters are taken to Faerie by their killer, where they’re raised by his family as members of the gentry. Unfortunately, the other Fae don’t view them this way. So Jude seeks out a way to best them.
Where do I even begin with this release? First off, this is my first Holly Black book, and she is a fantastic writer. Her style is whimsical and dark, yet elegant at the same time. Add the smooth pacing to that, and you’ll devour this book. Though I must say, it takes a few chapters for that pacing to officially pick up. This isn’t one of those “read the first sentence and be hooked” books. More like, read the first few chapters.
The setting of this book is reminiscent of Cassandra Clare’s Faerie, which I suppose isn’t surprising, since she and Black are close friends (and she does get a shout out toward the beginning of this novel). Faerie is enchanting and twisted, and it contains some palace intrigue, a setting I haven’t experienced in a while. I really enjoyed getting lost in her world, and I’m excited to see more of it.
Black is also a master at writing realistic characters, all of whom are so morally grey it hurts. Jude is so relatable, in part because her ambitions often bring out a reckless and ruthless side to her. The supporting cast also make very human decisions, from Jude’s sisters to the other Fae that despise them so much.
The romance in this book probably shouldn’t be romanticized, but geeze, have I fallen for the classic trope of “guy is mean to girl because he likes her.” I know. I hate myself too. But I couldn’t hate the character this story is named after, and that speaks volumes to Black’s writing and characterization. I do hope this trope is addressed and undone a bit in the sequel, though.
The ending wrapped up nicely, but I don’t know how I’m going to make it until the sequel. I need to know what happens next.
I gave The Cruel Prince a 4.5 of 5 stars on Goodreads. I absolutely loved it, and I recommend it – it’s well worth the praise it’s been getting! What about you guys? Have you read this yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!