Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on 26 February, 2018 | 0 Comments

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Little Brown (1.2.2018)
Hardcover, 384 pages
Source: I own it

2 Stars

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.

My Review

Do you ever have those times where you go into a book knowing full well you wouldn’t like it? Yeah, this was one of those for me. Why the hell did you read it, then? some of you may be asking. Well, there’s this annoying thing called the Hype Monster. And I let that little turd get the best of my curiosity.

Things I liked:

  • How brutal, dark, and bloody it was
  • The lies and betrayal
  • The not-relationship between Cardan and Jude
  • Romance not being a main focus
  • Faeries

Things I didn’t like:

  • The writing style
  • Jude. Or Taryn. Or really any of the characters
  • The lack of emotion
  • The lack of anything, really
  • The horrible pacing
  • Faeries (yes it’s in the like section too, let me explain)

Faeries are very tricky for me. I love the concept of the dark, cruel version of the fae and all the lore involved. I love the Seelie and Unseelie courts. I find them fascinating. As it turns out, I almost never enjoy stories about them. Why? I don’t even know. But there’s only been three fae stories that have ever worked for me: The Iron Fey series (including the spin off, Call of the Forgotten), The Fever series, and An Enchantment of Ravens. I have hated all the others.

Especially the Holly Black ones. hate Holly Black’s writing, and that’s most of the reason why her books never work for me. (I DNFed both White Cat and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and I hated The Darkest Part of the Forest.) It’s so horribly dry and formal that I have a hard time caring about anything and end up bored out of my mind. There’s a disconnect between myself and the story that totally ruins the book for me. I didn’t care about anything that was happening, and I certainly didn’t care about any of the characters.

I didn’t even like any of the characters. They all felt so bland and emotionless – Jude is supposed to be this awesome badass lead, but she was almost sociopathic in her lack of emotion. The only time she showed emotion – key word here being showed – is when she cried after a standoff with her sister. And there was absolutely no emotion leading up to it – her cheeks were just wet. She didn’t even feel anything, so neither did I. (Also can I please state how much I despise when authors pull the whole crying thing where the character doesn’t realize they’re doing it? Sorry but before you cry you feel something. Your eyes prickle. You feel it in your gut. It doesn’t just happen, ffs. Removing that emotion leading up to the crying just makes it feel apathetic.) Vivi was passing fair, but Taryn was a petty bitch, and literally all of the faeries were awful.

Which brings me to the pacing. GOOD LORD ALMIGHTY. I’m not even kidding you, jack shit happens in this book until two hundred and fifty pages in. TWO. HUNDRED. FIFTY. Out of 384 pages!!!!!! Two hundred and fifty pages of nothing. One or two teeny tiny blips of action amongst a sea of crap and nothing. That’s just downright aggravating and ridiculous. Basically I could have just skipped the entire “Book One” part and went straight to the “Book Two” part at page 247. I would have missed exactly nothing. Again, you’re probably asking me why I kept reading – honestly, I’m asking myself the same thing. I usually have zero problem whatsoever DNFing books I’m not enjoying. But I kept giving myself hope that it would get better, and everyone else kept saying it too, so I valiantly kept on truckin’ until before I knew it I was too far in to stop. I mean, I could have. But by the time I realized it probably wasn’t getting better, I only had 100 or so pages to go. Stupid to stop at that point. And even stupider, I still had a tiny hope that the STUFF that everyone kept talking about would actually happen and change my feelings about the book.

Sadly, I was mistaken. I mean, I did like the coronation scene. It was perfectly brutal and bloody and what does that say about me as a person but oh well. I was a tad intrigued after it FINALLY picked up in the last quarter. There were finally some twists (mostly predictable, but better than nothing) and action. And okay, I have to grudgingly admit that I liked Cardan and Jude together at the end, even though he was an insufferable shit through 90% of the book. If the whole book had been like that, maybe I would have enjoyed it. But it wasn’t. And I am saltier than the entire ocean because I was tricked into finishing a book – that I knew I wasn’t going to like – because of peer pressure and the Big Bad Hype Monster.

All in all, I feel like I read a different book than everyone who raved about it did. Which happens a lot for me, since I tend to be the black sheep. I should have listened to my instincts on this one. I will definitely never be picking up another Holly Black book ever again, no matter what anyone else says about it.

Overall Assessment

Plot: 3/5
Premise: 4/5
Writing style: 1/5
Originality: 3/5
Characters: 1/5
World-building: 3/5
Pace: 1/5
Feels: 0/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall rating: 2/5

Jessi (Geo)

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