The Cruel Prince – A Review

Book Review – The Cruel Prince

Written By: Holly Black 

Final Overall Rating: 8/10

Rating: 8 out of 10.

First of all, this review is purely derived from my own personal opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comments; I am always up for a good discussion or to answer questions. 

(Spoilers Below – Read at your own peril!)

Recommend Yes or No:

Yes. 100% Yes. Though this book is not what I would consider life changing it is such a fun read if you enjoy dark fairytales. Black really sweeps you up into her realm of Faerie. It only took me two days to finish, and I was so sad when I ran out of pages to read… so sad that I ordered both The Wicked King and Queen of Nothing immediately. If you have been in a reading slump and enjoy fantasy with a kickass female protagonist, this book would be a great place to start, but be aware that by reading The Cruel Prince, you will add its sequels to your TBR (To Be Read). 

Writing Style: 8/10

Holly Black writes her novel in first person (from Jude’s perspective) and present tense. This encourages the reader to have an immersive reading experience – it is almost like you are the protagonist. In The Cruel Prince, Black focuses most on storytelling and dialogue. Though this helps make the book fast paced and exciting, it also means that I did not feel her world was entirely developed. In my opinion, a lot of world building takes place through description, and though Black has some pretty and simple descriptions of her world of Faerie I felt there could have been more attention to details through adding extra similes and metaphors. I only take one point off for that though, because I feel the author’s focus was less about beautiful words and phrases and more about telling the story of Jude in Faerie. Despite the lack of descriptions, Black does an incredible job making her dialogue realistic, and she tends to avoid the “he said/she said” tactic of implementing conversation.

Story: 8/10

Once again, the actual story of The Cruel Prince is so much fun. It had been a while since I read any YA literature (I normally read literary fiction), but this was a real page tuner. I felt like every page and chapter had new secrets to uncover ­– especially towards the end of the novel. Black specializes in cliffhangers and foreshadowing. I can’t imagine having read this book when the other two were yet to be released! I also really appreciate how there was not just one story but many stories that all connect into one singular, overarching tale. There are story lines that follow Jude, Cardan, Madoc, Jude’s mother, Oriana (Jude’s stepmother) and Oak (Jude’s stepbrother), and the spies that all tie back to Faerie politics and Jude’s search for power in a world that has told her she is nothing. This story deals with themes of the weak who become strong, whether or not power is born or taken, love (both romantic and familial), and dysfunctional family matters. 

Character Development: 8/10

In my personal opinion, Black excelled at developing not only her main character, Jude, but all of her important secondary characters (Madoc, Taryn, Cardan, Locke, and Oriana). In my experience, my favorite books are the ones that focus on having more than one dynamic character. It makes the story more interesting because there is continual change and evolution. It prevents readers from really knowing what is going to happen. With Black’s main character, Jude, I felt she did a great job demonstrating Jude’s struggle with family and belonging versus coming of age. Jude is forced to decide whether she will stick by her family or usher in a new era. If Jude’s name is any indication, you know which one she chooses. My personal favorite relationship is Jude and Madoc. Jude must struggle with loving her adoptive father who murdered her parents, and knowing that Madoc doesn’t believe she will ever be good enough to integrate into his world – into Faerie. I did feel like there was a little repetition in Jude’s development, which is why I removed a point.

Fun Facts about Black:

  1. Black has a secret library (Holly Black).
  2. “She has been a finalist for an Eisner Award and the Lodestar Award, and the recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, a Nebula, and a Newbery Honor” (Holly Black).
  3. She helped to create the Spiderwick Chronicles (Holly Black).
  4. Black is from New Jersey but now lives in New England (Holly Black).
  5. Black published her first book, Tithe, in 2002(Holly Black). 

Favorite Quote from The Cruel Prince

“Because you’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet. Because I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale” (Black, 101).     

Final Takeaways: 

Power is only found when you stop expecting others to give it to you, and you take it for yourself. 

Works Cited: 

Black, Holly. The Cruel Prince. London: Hot Key Books, 2018. Print. 

Holly Black. “About.” https://blackholly.com/about/.

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