I am a big fan of Holly Black's work, and I think that is a big part of why this was not a 5 star read for me, I expected better...
Whoever was behind promoting this book did an amazing job, Holly Black was well known (thanks mostly to her work with Cassandra Clare) but not all that popular, at least not on my Instagram circles...
Anyway, here is what I have always liked about Holly Black: her stories are original, defy the norm, and are always full of surprise and exciting twists and turns. Her style of writing is poetic, lyrical, and fun! And the worlds she creates are always the most interesting and intriguing.
And it is with all that in mind, all that expectation, that I began reading the Cruel Prince...
The start of the story is promising. How many books do you know that begin with a Fae -Madoc- murdering his runaway wife in front of the children? Holly Black has never shied away from gory scenes and I was so glad she was keeping it true to her known style of writing here.
The children are: Vivi, who is Madoc's daughter; and Jude and Taryn, twins their mother had with the man she run away with.
After that the story skips 10 years, with the girls all grown up leaving with Madoc, he has brought them up as his own. Vivi still hates Madoc and wants to go live in the human world, but she is fae; Jude wants to be a fae warrior, but her humanity stands in the way; and Taryn wants to fall in love and marry a fae.
The Cruel Prince mainly focuses on Jude and Cardan, one of the Princes. Cardan is cruel and treats her the worse way possible. He is always reminding her of how weak her humanity makes her, both with words and actions.
The world Holly Black created was fascinating, it very much reminded me of The Darkest Part of the Forest, another book by her and one I LOVED. Everything about the fae is written well and in great detail. It is a scary world and yet also magical and fun. It was pure perfection!
I loved Jude as well. The main character was fearless and afraid, weak and strong, clever and so very silly... a perfect portrayal of humanity!
Cardan was also written super well. A boy that has a family like his is bound to be a bit cruel. I felt for him and I got angry at him.
Where the story falls short is predictability. Nothing surprised me.
I could have told you from the beginning what Locke (one of Cardan's friends who courts Jude) was up to, that Taryn and Jude's relationship would change, that Cardan was not all he seamed, that his siblings plans wouldn't quite work as expected, etc... Everything was sooooo predictable. And it turn, the story became boring fast.
Will I read the next book? Sure am. I love the worlds Holly Black creates and this is no exception. But I sincerely hope that the next book has some more of the witty twists I am used to from her.
Here are my reviews for two other books by her: The Darkest Part of the Forest and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown