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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

It’s January so that means we have a whole year of new releases ahead of us, yay ! One new release that I have been really really looking forward to comes out this month, and it just so happens to be the sequel today’s Book Review – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

With that release so close, I knew I just had to re-read where the story begins, so let’s get going with: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

“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.”

Holly Black, The Cruel Prince

Holly Black – Fae queen of Writing

I will literally read anything by Holly Black, she’s where my journey and joy with reading began. I have yet to come across a story written by Holly that I haven’t enjoyed. When I first came across this book last year, I knew I just had to have it and devour it immediately. (Also £3 off? Who couldn’t resist?🤣)

The Cruel Prince follows Jude Duarte, mortal Girl in a Fae world, and her struggles with living as a powerless mortal amongst the trickster Fae. The story begins with Jude, her twin Taryn, half sister Vivi and parents at home, doing the standard family activity – watching tv. Cue Madoc, feared general of the High Court, come to claim his stolen daughter Vivi, which leads to the brutal murder of their parents.

Ten years later, Jude and Taryn have be raised by Madoc, amongst the fae. But they are not raised as changlings but as part of the upperclass gentry. Sharing lessons with princes and princesses. Jude never entirely fits in, no magic, susceptible to enchantments and completely and utterly powerless. Jude wants nothing more than to belong in the land of fae. Everthing changes when King Eldread abdicates his throne as High King, and civil war threatens the court. Jude must fight for her place in the court and to save her family.

Cruel Prince Review

As I said, I am a huge Holly Black fan, all starting from Tithe, which had me from the first page. But despite being a fan, initially I found reading this novel at the start hard going. The first chapter brought me viciously in, wanting to find out more about the dark general- Madoc. But the pace of the novel soon slows to snails pace as it begins world building and fleshing things out. For me, I think the story almost slows too much, which might be where it kind of lost a little of the excitement of the book.

Holly Black’s faery books are all based in the same urban fantasy world. Having previously read her other titles like Tithe and Valiant, the world building felt almost unnecessary. But perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in those worlds before, and for those that are just beginning in Black’s world it won’t feel as slow.

Despite the slowness, I carried on reading (like hell I’m leaving a Holly Black book DNF!) and eventually the book begins to pick up with more in-depth characters and a thicker plot with intriguing underlying currents.

I have lied and I have betrayed and I have triumphed. If only there was someone to congratulate me.

Holly Black, The Cruel Prince.

Powerless to Powerful

Jude begins the novel feeling a little a whiney, almost too powerless. But she soon develops a backbone as you read on. She becomes a Warrior, Lover, Spy and Killer. The character grows on you, and the inner dialog she has becomes more interesting. You learn about her inner traumas, and how she uses them to develop her skills and build strategies.

Being raised by the General to the High King, blood and court intrigue is nothing but everyday life to Jude. Nothing but a game, and the fae soon become unwitting pawns for her to move and deceive. Soon twisting their expectations of her powerlessness into a strength, proving she is not just a mere mortal girl.

Black has created a staggeringly in-depth character, which plays simply on the surface. Jude comes across as a simple teen, bullied and lost in the cruelty of the fae world, but the further you read, the more complex the character becomes. Jude has a strict sets of ethics and morals that she struggles to place within her everyday life, especially in regards to her feelings towards Madoc. The faery that raised her, taught her, fed her, that became her father; is also the man that butchered her mother and father in cold blood, and ripped them away from a mortal life.

The result is a novel that, despite its slow pace, the plot tricks and turns, feeling delightfully honest and enjoyable in parts, to downright dark and betraying in others.

And oh my god, that ending!!!

I really can’t wait to move forward and devour the next in the series: The Wicked King by Holly Black. Because things will only starting picking up and speeding through from here.

Have you read The Cruel Prince? Let me know what you thought in the comments below.

Thanks for reading x

blog signature caroon comic self portrait stephanie male illustration

Review originally written 21st Jan 2019 over at


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