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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Review: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

Title: The Cruel Prince
Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Pages: 384
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Ebook

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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.

This review MAY contain SPOILERS. Read at your own risk.

This book was definitely not what I expected. I was only vaguely familiar with Black's work prior to reading this. Before I started this book I had only read the first book of her collaboration with Cassandra Clare, The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1), her series of graphic novels, The Good Neighbors, and the first trade paperback volume of Lucifer comics. As graphic novels and comics tend to read differently than novels and because novel collaborations don't always reflect a single author, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. 

The first thing that the reader will notice going into this book is that it is very dark. There is an ominous undertone throughout the entire book. Even from the first scene of the book where there is a life-changing event for the main character. This scene certainly set the mood for the duration of the book. It lodges inside of you and refuses to let go. 

The plot of this book is brilliantly compelling. You honestly never know who is friend or foe to the main character. And this includes herself. More on that aspect in a moment, but generally speaking, the story is crafted masterfully. I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation. I devoured this book! I needed to know who was going to betray whom and who was going to ally with whom. There are secrets uncovered and plots unearthed. I didn't see things coming at all at the end of this book. I had no idea what was going to happen and there was no way to anticipate it. This book will really shock you in all of the best ways. 

The world building is so breathtaking. It is literally the best! I could feel myself living in this world right along with the main character. Black describes everything in Faerie in such a powerful way. You can smell the smells, taste the tastes, and feel everything. The descriptions of the different types of Faerie creatures are so vivid and detailed. There was one scene where I felt there was a little more telling than showing the reader, but after reading the book I feel it may have been necessary to know what was going on in the story. 

The writing style is very eloquent. The words flow magically together to create quite a masterwork of storytelling. 

The only thing about this book that didn't have a positive impact was the character development. I did not connect with the main character one tiny bit in this. Quite plainly, her character was kind of annoying. Sure, there were times that I was rooting for her and living right alongside her, but my overall impression of her is less than flattering. While some of her ambitions and actions felt right, others did not. The felt contradicting at times. The entire time that I was reading the feeling that I got from the main character was that she was self-harming. Not literally causing her body affliction, but doing things that she knew would hurt her. Physically and otherwise. She kept ending up in life-threatening situations and she never had any true fear of consequences. She always acts like she has no feelings. Like she is a husk. Her character really was maddening to me. This book would have been a 5 Star read for me had the main character been different. 

Overall, this book was really something special. It was better than good, but not perfect.  I did have issues with the main character, but not enough that I didn't enjoy the book and not enough that I won't continue the series! I would very much recommend this one to others, but if dark political plots are not your thing then this might not be the read for you. This is not a happy book. Now to play the waiting game until the second book of this series it out!

This book has had a lot of hype surrounding it. Do you read books that are hyped up? If so, is the hype worth it?


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