Spoiler-Free Review: The Cruel Prince

“We were children, children can laugh all day, and still cry themselves to sleep at night”

In today’s world, when we talk about fairies and magic, most people think of turning pumpkins into carriages, ballet dancers dressed like sugar plumes, or clapping for Tinkerbell. That’s not what the ancient Celts would have thought. Celtic lore about faeries were dark tales. Full of bad bargains, curses, and being careful what you wish for.

Author: Holly Black

Holly Black is the best modern fantasy author about old world fairies. She has a great ability to capture the Celtic idea of the Faer Folk. They can’t lie, but they can deceive. They are not outright evil, but they play with human’s lives to amuse themselves.

Jude’s parents were killed when she was seven, and she and her sisters were taken to the Faerie Court. Years later, Jude wants to earn her place among the Faer Folk, and in her quest, she delves into the murky underworld of spies, coups, and secession.

The dual nature of emotional manipulation and abuse is really well done. Jude knows her ‘father’ murdered her real parents, she can even remember it, but at the same time, he is the only father figure she’s ever really known. In a twisted way, she can’t help but love him, and she knows it’s twisted. Her fear and anger at her ‘father’ have lived inside Jude for so long she doesn’t know who she would be without it.

This emotional piece is beautifully done and the strongest part of the story. I hate when a character who has been abused for years does a heel turn and instantly hates their abuser, that’s not how the human mind works.

The way I go on about the emotional abuse element in this story you’d think it’s the focus or the titular Cruel Prince, but no. The Prince of the title is one of the royal princes who Jude has a feud with. Don’t get me wrong that piece is good too, just rather predictable.

I am eagerly awaiting a chance to read the sequel, and strongly recommend this book to fans of fantasy.

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