One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The fearsome assassin abducts all three girls and brings them to the world of Faerie. Mocked and tormented for being merely mortal, Jude soon realises that to survive in the treacherous, dangerous world of the royal court, she needs to be as cunning and deceitful as the Fey themselves. But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan.
This book was so far out of my comfort zone but I am so so glad I gave it a go – I LOVED it! Apart from Harry Potter (which doesn’t really count), I have never been able to get into fantasy and often find myself getting confused and lost within the imagined world, yet this imagined world was perfection: faeries, goblins, trolls, complex family dynamics, corruption… I will take it all Holly Black!
The Cruel Prince explodes into action from the very first page when a stranger, in a long dark coat, arrives at Jude’s door and murders her mother and father in cold blood. This ‘stranger’ turns out to be Madoc – Jude’s mother’s ex-husband – who takes all three children back with him to Faerieland. In this land, Vivienne, the eldest child and a direct descendant of the Fey, fits in, but life for twin mortals Jude and Taryn is hard. Bullied by Prince Cardan and his cronies, Jude struggles to find her place in a world she doesn’t belong. However, although she is different, Jude soon realises that she has the power to change things and this is when the story really comes to life and…shit…goes…down!
Jude is such a great protagonist. She is ballsy, intelligent, cunning, headstrong and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She lies, she kills, she cheats, she loves and it all gels so brilliantly together into the perfect dark fantasy character. Every decision Jude makes throughout the story aids to negotiate herself into a position of power, something that seemed almost impossible at the beginning of the novel. She is a bad ass and I just adore her!
What they don’t realise is this: Yes they frighten me, but I have always been scared, since the day I got here. I was raised by the man who murdered my parents, reared in a land of monsters. I live with that fear, let it settle into my bones and ignore it. If I didn’t pretend not to be scared, I would hide under my owl-down coverlets in Madoc’s estate forever. I would lie there and scream until there was nothing left of me. I refuse to do that. I will not do that. I don’t desire to do as well in the tournament as one of the Fey. I want to win. I do not yearn to be their equal. In my heart, I yearn to best them.
I also adored the Fey world Holly Black has created and the exploration of how faeries and humans coexist. In Faerieland, humans are enchanted (glamoured) to follow the orders of the Fey. There are ways to block such enchanments such as wearing a necklace made of rowan berries. I loved how these elements of the fantasy world were woven into the plot twist later on in the book. Yep… there’s a plot twist… and if you’ve been following my blog for a while you will know that I never see them coming! So in true Lynsey style, I was blown away by the ending and its villainous twists and turns. The cliffhanger ending is to die for and I can’t wait to read The Wicked King.
The Cruel Prince is split into two parts: book one and two. Part one focuses on character development whereas part two is where all the action happens. I don’t want to mention much about the royal Court of Shadows because of plot spoilers, however I will say that the coronation scene literally made my jaw drop and gave me all the ‘Game of Thrones’ vibes. Talk about brutal!
Dark, compelling and mesmerizing. 5/5 stars from me.
What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong?