The Cruel Prince
The Folk of the Air Book 1
by Holly Black
NIKKI’S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10
Summary: Stolen from the mortal lands, Jude and her sisters are brought up in Faerieland and it is not all that magical. Faeries are cunning, manipulative, and love playing tricks especially on mortals, which they generally hate. No longer belonging to the mortal world, Jude learns to navigate their world and play their malicious games. But then the High King is killed and Jude finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue and a bloody political coup, which turns her life upside down all over again.
7 Courtly Things about Holly Black’s “The Cruel Prince”
(May Contain Spoilers)
While most of The Folk of the Air series takes place in Faerie, the world includes our modern mortal world as well. It is actually relatively easy for faeries to travel between the two realms allowing characters to go back and forth without consequences. This was a fun change from a fantasy novel being placed in a mythical land in which our world didn’t exist. Reminds me of Labyrinth.
As always, I appreciate any author that includes positive, normalizing inclusion of the LGBTQ community in their novels. In Holly Black’s Faerieland, LGBTQ relationships appear to be accepted and Jude’s sister Vivi is actually in a serious committed relationship with another woman.
3. Sisterly Love
Overall, the three sisters, Jude, Taryn, and Vivi are there for each other and really show sisterly love. Throughout “The Cruel Prince” they are each other’s confidants, advocates, and counselors. They give each other space when needed, understand it when one of them has a secret that they are unwilling to share, and are willing to help each other with no questions asked.
Cardan is an intriguing character, while he appears to be cruel there is an element of reserve, like he doesn’t actually enjoy being mean. He does terrible things but isn’t quite the monster his brother Balekin is and there may be hope for him to be better. It appears that Cardan is a product of his upbringing, as we all are, and with being abused, ignored, and taught to be ruthless, this is all he knows how to be. Perhaps free of his family he can become something different.
“The Cruel Prince” pulls at the emotional strings, especially conflicting emotions. Madoc’s fatherly relationship with the girls, even though he murdered their parents. Taryn’s betrayal of Jude with Locke, even though they are sisters and twins at that. Cardan’s cruelty and then seeing him being beaten. Dain appears to be a fair and just prince and then he has Jude stab herself for making a mistake. Then there is Cardan wanting Jude but being repulsed and ashamed for his feelings. Holly Black creates an emotional whirlwind between her characters and one doesn’t know how to feel about anyone.
6. Surprise Twist
Holly Black did an amazing job of slowly revealing Jude’s overall plan to have Oak become High King. I didn’t realize who was going to be crowned until Cardan knelt before Oak, it was a surprising twist but makes total sense for Jude’s end game. Looking forward to seeing how this dangerous gamble plays out.
7. The Wicked King
As Cardan is now High King and in a binding agreement with Jude for another year, Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air series continues in “The Wicked King.”
What are your favorite things about “The Cruel Prince”?