Title: The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Jude and her sisters were stolen away from the human world to Faerieland when they were very young. They were forced to grow up in a foreign, hostile world and raised by the man who killed their parents. You could say that Jude feels like an outsider.
Still, while others might shy away and wish to look small and insignificant so as not to be a target for aggression or bullying, Jude still wishes to be a part of their world. She envies them: their beauty, their power, and their immortality.
She stands up for herself and keeps her head high even in the midst of brutality. But will Jude remain strong through every bit of cruelty that Prince Cardan throws her way?
Jude was a very interesting character to me. The way that she reacted to her experiences and her situation was unique; after all, many would probably rebel against the man who had murdered their parents and stole them away from their world. Yet the dynamics of Jude’s family was strange: Madoc, their new “father”, seems to have developed genuine love for the girls through the years, even though he only shares blood with one of them. And the sisters don’t really seem to hate him. They do their best to adjust to the new lives they’re forced to live and make the best of things.
The bullying toward the sisters is pretty brutal. The fey don’t take very well to humans, and it’s strange to see them being raised alongside fellow fey. One faery in particular, Prince Cardan, seems to be particularly bothered by Jude’s presence, and she goads him by standing up to him. The prince and his gang participate in some very nasty activities with Jude and her twin, Taryn, making their lives miserable.
And yet, Jude’s response to this cruelty is a desire to rise above it and become stronger. She asks Madoc to train her more intensely in sword-fighting, and secretly moves her way through the ranks of the fey, grasping for power and affluence. It’s all very motivating and I found myself rooting for her and wishing for her to come out on top.
While I was reading this, I found myself very enamored by the story. However, sadly, I also found that once I finished The Cruel Prince and put it down, I wasn’t dying for a sequel. I wasn’t totally “wow-ed”. And when all is said and done, I found it pretty forgettable. I wasn’t particularly in love with any of the characters, nor was I so impressed with the world that I want to visit it again right away.
There is a great deal amount of hype surrounding The Cruel Prince. I never jumped on the hype train because I’ve never read anything by Holly Black before now, and I just didn’t see the big deal. It seems to be just another book about faeries.
Did The Cruel Prince live up to the hype? Not really. I don’t see why everyone is going nuts about it. Still, I enjoyed this enough to want to read any sequels and to read more of Black’s work. I look forward to seeing what else she brings to the table.