Wow, okay, so this is the Holly Black that I missed in White Cat (keeping in mind that I struggle connecting to audio books as a rule). What a depraved, fascinating story. But let me tell you, I was HOOKED. It’s crazy actually, I read two books, back-to-back, that were similar in page count: The Girl in the Tower was 363 pages and The Cruel Prince was 370 pages – but my reading pace between the two could not have been more different. I took almost a month and a half to read The Girl in the Tower but I DEVOURED this book in a little over 24 hours.
The story of The Cruel Prince starts out with twin sisters Jude and Taryn witnessing the murder of their parents at the hand of their half-sister Vivienne’s biological father Madoc. What follows is the story of the three girls growing up in Faerie-land in the house of the man who killed their parents. Madoc is high up in the King’s favor and so the girls are educated with the other Faerie Gentry and forced to attend parties and balls, etc. Vivienne, being Madoc’s actual daughter, rebels as much as possible just to annoy Madoc, but Taryn and Jude do their best to be the best daughters they can be, after all, they’ve seen and vividly remember what Madoc is capable of. The problem is, Humans usually only live in Faerie if they’re servants or slaves to the Fae, hardly any of them are educated with the Fae Gentry. Being allowed a fancy education, access to all the best parties, and still not quite the victims of outright attacks (for fear that their ‘father’ would make an example out of the bullies) makes Jude and Taryn (mostly Jude), the target of the wicked Prince Cardan and his group of sadistic friends.
I will say this, the stuff that Cardan and Friends put Jude through are TWISTED. The fact that Cardan is a Fae prince means that he’s very adept at politics, double-talk, and sneaky maneuvers that nobody can pin to him outright. His friend Valerian, believe it or not, is worse. This is not the unexpected betrayal of the Sharpe brothers from White Cat, but way more advanced, way more despicable and way more humiliating. I cringed A LOT working my way through Jude’s suffering. Be aware, when Holly Black says Cruel Prince – she means it.
As far as the story itself: while I couldn’t quite grasp the motivations behind the actions (I felt like I was missing a few vital details) of various characters, even with Jude explaining them, I definitely did guess the twist at the end (Jude’s plan). And it wasn’t super obvious in a I-knew-this-was-going-to-happen-from-the-beginning kind of way, which was nice, because it always makes me feel so smart when I can guess how the book is going to go – as long as it’s not too gratuitous. 🤓 Also, it may feel like a consistent pattern lately, but I am, for the third book in a row, dubbing the main character (in this case Jude) a 🔥 Fiery Female🔥. Not only did Jude put up with so much bullshit from the kids her age, but she never lost sight of her goal. She might have succumbed to the torture for a few minutes, but honestly – who wouldn’t? In my opinion, she’s a stronger character for her lapse and subsequent return to strength. It takes a strong person to only question themselves for a few minutes and then return to their goals. And on top of all of that, even knowing what she’s risking with her plan, she goes through with it anyway. She doesn’t back down, and she doesn’t take the easy way out, and I am totally here for her fiery little heart. 🧡
“What they don’t realize 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.”
I love the world that Holly Black built in this novel, I loved all of the details, and aside from Valerian, I even loved all of the evil characters in Faerie. Especially Cardan. I can’t think of a single thing that could be improved on, which means, for the third book in a row, I’ve found a:
🔥 FIERY FAVORITE🔥
I can’t wait for The Wicked King!