Book Review: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

December 27, 2017

Title: The Cruel Prince

Author: Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: January 2, 2018

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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.


Before we begin, I have a shameful secret to admit. This was my first time reading a book by Holly Black.

She’s known as the queen of the faeries, and here I am of Irish heritage (I mean my mum was born there), fascinated by the folklore of the fae, and somehow Holly Black has slipped by me until now. You see why I’m deeply ashamed?

Okay, so now that I have that off my chest I can assure you all that it will absolutely not be the last time I read a book by Holly Black because wow.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

You know that wonderful, terrifying feeling when you finish an incredible book and you have approximately 423 books still unread on your bookshelf and yet you can’t bring yourself to pick up anything new because you’re certain nothing else will satisfy from now on? So you sit there and seriously consider just picking the damn book up again and starting from the beginning. This is me right now and I don’t know what to do with myself.

The Cruel Prince was absolutely addicting from start to finish. The writing is as sharp as a dagger; no words are wasted and every raw sentence pierced right through me. I was so completely immersed in this story that I started to lose my grip on reality a little and I was left feeling quite homesick for this wonderfully dark world that Holly Black has created. I found myself tangled up a thrilling story rich with intrigue and secrets that kept me guessing until the last page. It was about as dark a book can be and still be shelved as YA and I’m living for it. This book has teeth and it is out for blood.

Jude, Cardan, Vivi, Madoc; they were so full of dimension it was like they were right there in the room with me and we’d all sip Faerie wine out of acorn cups together.

Our main character, Jude, is a human girl raised in Faerie and her home is a treacherous place for mortals. She lives in fear of poisoned food and Faerie spells that can enchant her into a plaything for the mischievous Folk. She’s been exposed to some pretty traumatic experiences and has grown into an angry and self-preserving young woman with more than a small amount of darkness in her. A Mary-Sue Jude is certainly not; she’s highly unlikeable at times and Black is not afraid to put her through utter hell and back. I loved every moment with her.

Prince Cardan of Faerie is, we must admit, absolutely terrible and selfish. Ms. Black has fully committed to fleshing out a cruel anti-hero in him. Some of his scenes were difficult to read, and yet those few hints that there may be more to him under the surface made him a fascinating character. I did not expect for him to grow on me as he did but, sure enough, I am anxiously waiting to find out where his part in this story is headed.

I want to make a small mention about Jude’s romantic sub-plot because at first I found it to be the weakest part of the book but there was a twist which redeemed it for me. I’m glad for the unexpected way that it played out so I’m encouraging you to hang on tight if you’re not feeling it at the start.

It’s official; I’m moving to Faerie at that’s where you can find me from now on – dancing whole nights away in Faerie halls under enormous tree roots and sword-fighting my way to become a Seelie knight.

If you enjoy a good dark fantasy, you won’t want to miss this one coming January 2, 2018. I’ve preordered my finished copy because I’m hopelessly obsessed.

My rating: 5/5 stars

0 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

  1. katelynnhillier

    Oooh, this sounds awesome. I’ve read The Darkest Part of the Forest and really liked it, so definitely adding this book to my Goodreads.
    Great review, and glad to know the romantic sub-plot is redeemable. That’s always something that worries me, because I’ve dropped a few books due to the terrible/unrealistic romances. Looking forward to reading my second Holly Black book!! 😀

  2. Pingback: The Cruel Prince – As The Plot Thickens

  3. Quirine

    Sounds like so much fun! I once tried reading the Coldest girl in coldtown by Holly Black and really didn’t enjoy it (didn’t even finish) which made me hesitant to her others books, but this does sound good!