Jude and her sisters are taken from their home by the same faerie who murdered their parents. Now, ten years later, despite the horrible way she came to this place, Jude loves her home and craves her adopted "fathers" approval. So she trains and works to become a knight for the King of the Faeries. However, his youngest son, the cruel and spoiled prince, makes it his mission to make sure that never happens.
Normally, at this part of my review, I'd talk about how I came to find this book and what I was looking forward to. But let's be honest, who doesn't already know and love Holly Black? Her A Modern Faerie Tale series was one of my favorite books in middle school and led to the writing of some very amateur attempts of faerie tale writing myself. The Cruel Prince is her latest book, which I manage to get shortly after it came out in January. I've been holding onto it and excitedly awaiting the read.
One of my favorite parts of Holly Black's stories is her world building of her faerie lands. She usually relies on some tropes and age-old rules, like Jude and her sister put salt on their food to prevent themselves from becoming intoxicated by faerie food, but she also adds in some new and exciting elements that add to the world she's made. In this book, the faeries all have animal-like appearances, like tails or cat-eyes or ears. It's a small touch that I felt just made visualizing the whole story so much fun. Additionally, the political drama of the story creates a whole new layer of depth to the world she's creates and really enhances the plot as well.
The main character, Jude is a fascinating character. She's strong-willed, eager to please and, most compelling, is complacent in her own struggles. She's determined to belong in the world she's been held hostage in and in the same breath, challenges the quo of that world by asking it to accept her. She's complex and sometimes aggravating, but she's definitely a protagonist I won't forget soon. Her sisters are bit more simple but still complex and arguably more relatable than Jude herself. They're the voice of reason most of the time. I still found myself cheering for Jude despite that, though.
This plot is full of action, twists and turns, some that are predictable, others that will leave you clutching your pearls. The political drama combined with Jude's complicated relationship with literally everyone around her lead to an enticing story that it hard to put down. What's even more compelling than the actual events that take place is the development in Jude, the other characters and her feelings towards them that hard me begging for me once I got to the end of the book.
Luckily this is only the first book in Holly Black's new The Folk of the Air series. If this first book is any indication of what we can expect for the series, I can't wait to see what Black does next. The world she's created and the characters are uniquely beautiful, frustrating and complex. The story will drag you deep into the pages and refuse to let go until the very end, not terribly unlike a faerie. I'm going to be waiting on the edge of my seat for the next book in this series.