Goodreads: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
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 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. As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.
I read this book for the first time last year and I remember reaching the end and thinking HOLY HELL WTF JUST HAPPENED. Then I realized I had to wait a year to get The Wicked King. Fast forward to now, over a year later, I’ve got TWK in my hands but I haven’t read it yet because I wanted to do a re-read of The Cruel Prince first. In all honesty, I didn’t remember much about the characters or what happened in the story since a year passed. Having finished my second read, my rating is around 3.5-4 stars.
TCP was a fast, engaging read and I found myself flipping through the chapters in record time. I loved the faerie world depicted by Black. It’s full of dark, twisted and evil creatures and it’s almost completely unforgiving, especially if you’re a human. There are so many magical and astonishing creatures that my mind was scrambling to imagine, and THE FOOD! The way that Black describes the food in faerie was mouth-watering. I don’t know how any human could resist it because I would’ve been all over that faster than you can say stop! I really enjoyed the world building, and the thought of a magical world of faerie existing just beyond our sky’s edge and just out of our reach, is always an exciting thought for the kid and fantasy lover in me.
The story was told through Jude’s perspective and I can’t quite make up my mind on how I feel about her. I don’t like her much but I also don’t hate her? She’s selfish and destructive, often makes really questionable decisions, but at the same time… I can’t fault her for being the way she is for having grown up in a world like faerie. She’s consumed by fear 100% of the time, but she turns that fear into something more and it’s really admirable because she’s doing what she needs to survive. She’s gone through some hella traumatic shit, including having to live with her parent’s murderer, and she grows to love him despite what he’s done and despite his violent and calculating nature. If all of that doesn’t mess a person up, I don’t know what will. I grew to like her more in the second-half of the book though. Her ruthlessness and her very twisted relationship with Cardan was a delight to watch play out. Cardan started out as the typical bully and asshole of a prince, who was especially cruel (hence, Cruel Prince) to everyone who displeased him. But as we learn more about his character, we see there’s a lot more than meets the eye, and I did feel for his character (although that doesn’t justify his cruel bullying actions).
The majority of the characters in TCP were (very) morally grey and I think that’s what made the book all the more exciting. Faerie land is nothing like a fairy tale. Everyone is cunning, looking out for themselves, weaving magic with words to avoid telling the truth without outright lying. I was surprised by how political the story was. There’s a lot of royal faerie family drama, including a slew of deaths that reminds me very much of the infamous Red Wedding scene from GoT. It kept me on my toes though! The moral greyness of the characters only proved itself as the second-half of the book progressed and that sneaky ending was just perfection! Oh, I remember how shook I was when reading it the first time. SO SNEAKY!
I enjoyed TCP but it wasn’t my favorite fantasy or the best I’ve ever read. I’m glad that I read it the first time without the hype because if this was my first read of it, I would’ve been pretty disappointed considering how big of a deal it is. That said, I’m really looking forward to finally starting The Wicked King and to see what happens next in this cutthroat fairy world.
Have you read The Cruel Prince? What’d you think of it? Live up to the hype or nah? Leave me a comment below and let’s chat!