The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | Hello, Sophia is a black sheep again

Posted January 31, 2019 by Sophia

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | Hello, Sophia is a black sheep again

Content and Trigger Warning: This book contains content that may be triggering to some, which we will try our best provide below the synopsis.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | Hello, Sophia is a black sheep againThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Folk of the Air #1
Other Books: The Wicked King
Published by Little Brown Books For Young Readers on January 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: eBook
Source: Library

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 years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.

EVERYONE RECOMMENDS THIS BOOK and here I am with well… an unpopular opinion. 😔

There were some parts that I liked about The Cruel Prince, but overall? I felt very meh about my first Holly Black book.

The Cruel Prince is hard to get into.

Holly Black’s world is interestingly written and all, but it takes a lot of time to get into. There is tons of world-building overall, which is great! But there were many times when I wanted to put down the book because something made the book feel slower than it should have been.

I don’t buy/support the whole Cardan/Jude ship.

When enemies to lovers tropes are done right, I am ALL for it. But The Cruel Prince? The whole enemies to lovers trope is a whole new level of fucking bullying and abuse and I am not okay with this ship going down. Maybe this is a personal reason (and maybe a little triggering – come on, peeps, being bullied sucks), but Cardan’s actions throughout the book disgust me. I don’t see how those two can end up together successfully at this point.

Okay, okay, I get it. Cardan is a tragic bean and deserves to be loved. Behind every bully is a story, after all. I still don’t like him. 🤧 And it’s really not an excuse for him to be doing some of the things he does to Jude. That’s… that’s just not okay.

But I don’t buy any of the romances in here. At all.

I did not give a single shit about the romances in The Cruel Prince. Personally, I felt they were superficial or boring, and I honestly skipped over them completely to get to the better parts of the story.

Plus there is the bullying and abuse (I know, they’re Fae! They’re naturally mean), which considering the amount that is done to Jude over the years results in a more, “What the fuck just happened – am I even reading this correctly?”

Jude is deliciously evil.

OMG, I love her so so much. This human does not play any games or beat around the bush in the fae world (nor does she take any bullshit or bullying which is A++). And to top it off, she is notoriously clever in her ways in a world where humans aren’t exactly welcome. I’ll probably read The Wicked King so I can see more of her evilness as she continues to navigate Faerie.

So. Much. Blood.

My evil little heart twirls in delight at this because THERE IS BLOOD. STABBING. SHARP OBJECTS. I am all for evil characters and plots and Holly Black definitely delivered a good amount of darkness in The Cruel Prince. Gahhhh I might read The Wicked King and give the sequel a try.

the cruel prince holly black

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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43 responses to “The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | Hello, Sophia is a black sheep again

  1. Funny, I gave this book just 1 star with my first try. However, I tried the audiobook and when I read the e-book it went up to 3.5 stars. It takes a very good while to get into the book, but I heard so much more about the wicked king. That the pace is faster and everything. However this is not your typical fantasy novel since there is betrayal literally everywhere and that’s what makes this book so unique I guess. I agree it’s not the best book, but the wicked King is bound to be so much better.

    • I’ve heard the same thing about The Wicked King, which is why I’m interested in giving the sequel a try and hope I enjoy it a lot better than I did with TCP. Hopefully we’ll both enjoy it!

  2. It’s hard to know how I’ll feel about this book at all or the trilogy mostly because I haven’t read Holly Black since her first YA trilogy and I freakin adored her and worshipped those books!

    • Oof, I hope you do enjoy this one as much as everyone does, Haley! I remember Holly Black’s first YA trilogy, but I never it myself since there were too many other books and um… I got preoccupied, LOL.

  3. Bwhahaha Sophia I love unpopular opinion!Honestlymy review for the Wicked King will be released later today but you’ll read that at some point I thought Cardan had better to get broader shoulders. NowI was surprised!
    And my daughter is reading in English since this summer. She borrowed the Cruel Prince two days ago and her first reaction was: will there be a romance? Because he is a bully and cruel. That’s unacceptable! Then two days later and finished: wowit was fantastic! I need the second one!

    • LOL! I might be like your daughter when I read the second book. I adored almost everything BUT the potential romance with Cardan and Jude and the other relationships (wow, I completely forgot as I’m writing this comment weeks later – that’s when you know it’s not memorable).

  4. I have this to read and plan to start it soon. I’ve been where you are with a book before. So many people loved it and I didn’t. Curious how this one will go for me now! Thanks for the fun review even if the book didn’t work for ya:)

  5. I completely agree with you about all the romance in Cruel Prince! I read it last year and disliked the whole romance plotlines! Although I do love Holly Blacks books because they’re always including fae that are completely inhuman like this!

    • Oh no. The Cruel Prince seems to be a hit or miss for some, even though a lot of people enjoyed it. I haven’t listened to the audio version, so I can’t say if the narration is worth it, but like many books, if you have more positives about the book than the negative, I would go for it! I’ve heard the sequel is much better, even for those who weren’t huge fans of the first one.

  6. I actually DNFed this one – I liked that it started in the “real” world, but as soon as it switched to the fantasy side and started in with all the made-up names and places, I just couldn’t get into it. I felt lost immediately.

  7. I have heard so many mixed things about this book. Either people love it or hate it. I was thinking about giving it a try but I’m not sure.. Great review!!

  8. Honestly I totally agree with your enemies to lovers part. Usually it’s pretty okay, but this was not. I was very very hateful and I honestly don’t understand how it evolved into a relationship? (though they don’t have one yet and I don’t know if they will have one, but it looks like they will)

  9. I hope I’m going to like Jude/Cardan ship more in the next book. I mostly just liked the world in The Cruel Prince. I also want something bad to happen to Jude’s sister.

  10. yes Jude really is the star of her storyu, i cant wait foir you to raed the wicked king so you can see her co ntimuaing to try and navifate the fae worlsd.
    for me tho i did rly enkjoy the story + fou8nd it grippimg fron the first page :p

  11. I might be meeting the author Holly Black during the Emirates Lit fest as I will be volunteering this year. So you think I should it read before that? Sigh so many decisions to make.

  12. Bex

    I tried The Cruel Prince recently and ended up DNF’ing. :/ I want to try again though! But your review truly makes me feel better about being a part of the minority on this book!

  13. I loved The Cruel Prince, but I definitely agree with a lot of your critiques! I’m really hoping Jude & Cardan’s relationship gets a LOT of development before it becomes canon, because at this point it makes me really uncomfortable no matter how hard everyone seems to ship them; and I had quite a few “wait wtf is this for real” moments with the outrageous cruelty. but Jude really holds her own as a fighter, so I’m still excited to finally start the sequel (because my library hold finally came in!!!)

  14. Clo

    Hmmm I’ve yet to read this one, honestly I adore the cover and the cover for Wicked King *is trash for pretty covers* but when I got it out of my library I let my mum borrow it to read, and she didn’t like it all. Sooooo I found that interesting, I’m still unsure if I’ll pick this up or not.

  15. I totally agree with your opinion on the relationships. They are dysfunctional and not good for the people involved at all. I do like how the dysfunctional-ity of the relationships represents the horrid nature of the fey world. What keeps me reading this series is my curiosity on how such broken people will bring order to this dysfunctional, chaotic world.

    Thanks for your honest review with your “unpopular” opinion. I enjoyed reading your take on TCP 🙂

    • Thanks, Crystal! I agree – the dysfunctionality of the relationships do represent the nature of the fey world and the hierarchy that’s in the world.

  16. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this review Soph. This is such a hyped book and I’ve been putting off reading it for exactly that reason. The romance sounds messy and this is the first review I’ve read that’s mentioned what sounds like abuse of the love interest. I don’t care what he’s been through, still no right to abuse a partner or play games. That alone has turned me off this one I can’t get on board with that. I’ll still read it eventually but not any time soon. Thank you for such an honest review Soph, really enjoyed it!

    • Thanks, Kelly! It really is abusive, though I’m generally kind of comfortable with enemies to lovers (depends on the situation), but also I just don’t feel it’s an excuse for the fae even if it shows the nature of the world as someone else mentioned in an earlier comment.

    • Oof. Don’t blame you for passing up this one, Kal! I’m only okay with the enemies to lovers trope depending on how it’s written and portrayed and I’m not about the TCP version of portrayal.

  17. I like seeing reviews that are a little against the grain since it’s nice to see other viewpoints, and in this case while I want to try Holly Black and I love the idea of the world building, I do NOT like the sound of the bullying/ abuse stuff- I get that they’re faeries and and are mean and stuff, but I can see it easily being too much. So I will definitely go into this expecting not to like anybody lol. Although at least Jude stands up for herself, sounds like. That’s something.

    • LOL, that’s a great way to put it, Greg! Don’t go in expecting to like anybody except for maybe Jude who stands up for herself and is a badass continuously making her way through the faery world.

  18. I loved the Cruel Prince. Though now thinking back to it I have already forgotten most of what happened?
    And normally I don’t really like the bully and mc love thingy going on here, but I think because Jude does just as much questionable things and she actually admires that I’m kinda ok with it? Which is a really weird feeling for me …
    I’m so excited for The Wicked King. And yes, Jude is amazing and I love how she uses her humanness to her advantage in a world where it should be a disadvantage

    • LOL, you’re not alone! I’m thankfully blessed with remembering the main points of what happen (I guess I can thank my reviews for that along with Goodreads if I ever update while reading). I think that feeling may be in part to what someone else said about the actions representing the faery world?

  19. Ahahaha, that’s probably why! I generally don’t remember books that aren’t memorable enough for me to remember…

    I’m glad I’m not alone, though! Are you planning on reading the sequel after maybe rereading TCP?

  20. I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t want to reread it. If only there was a SparkNotes version to help us remember WHAT happened so we could avoid rereading if we so choose.

  21. Samantha

    Yes Soph, thank you for doing your job and giving your honest feedback that everyone should already be doing when reviewing the titles they consume. It’s shocking how many people are inauthentic in their reviews and in their commenting/responses to those review. So glad to see that you keep it 100 here!

  22. Haha yes, they are very lucky! I’m happy to hear this will be elaborated in The Wicked King and will definitely be looking forward to that in the sequel (along with the rest of the world). 😀