Book Discussion * The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

If you’re going to read The Cruel Prince, there really is only one way to do it. And that’s with a buddy. There will be theories galore going through your mind, and this is the type of book where you are going to want to put it down and analyze every single one of them before you go on, just to see if you’re right. This is typical of most fantasy books for me; I am a compulsive codependent fantasy reader. There are always too many what-ifs and characters to decipher to go it alone. Cue the reinforcements! I convinced Shanna to read this book with me (meaning I asked her to check out the blurb – she was immediately down to read,) and we had so much fun going back and forth about Jude and Cardan and the rest of the gang! We really enjoyed this read, and we can’t wait for the next one! You can read our thoughts below, but please be advised that since this is a discussion post, there will be spoilers.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black | The Folk of the Air #1
Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication Date | January 2nd, 2018


Book Blurb:

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.

| Book Review |

What did you think of the world building in The Cruel Prince?

Angie Elle: I was a little disappointed in the world-building. One of my favorite parts of fairy-themed stories are the lush settings; I feel like we got very little of that description here. Most of the focus was on the fairies themselves. I wish we’d gotten more of their surroundings.

Shanna: So for me it really wasn’t that impressive, I can’t really envision what Fairieland looks like. I can’t say what the homes or even the school which is where the protagonist spent most of her time looked like. I have small glances but not much. I also thought that a lot of the rules and descriptions of the world weren’t that good. So for example the hierarchical structure of this world. There is mention of other ‘lesser’ kings and queens but are they of a different species? Or is it just blood lines. It’s clear that the fae in this story look different but I don’t know if that means anything. So I think there was a lot to be desired there.

Angie Elle: Yes, even if the rest of the world was under developed, you would think that we would at least know what it looks like where Jude spends most of her time!

What do you think of the relationship between Jude and Madoc?

Angie Elle: It’s so complicated! And I think, for a fantasy, as much as it can be, it’s realistic. Even though this man murdered her family, he raised her. She can’t help but feel a certain amount of affection for him. It’s very Stockholm Syndrome-ish.

Shanna: This was probably the most complex of the relationships. The fact that this is the man who killed her parents in cold blood and then kidnapped her and brought her to a world,  that saw her as less, but he cared for her, protected her and some might say even loved her. But for me, it appeared that Madoc though he had taken on the responsibility of caring for the girls with him he also had a plan to use them in some way to further his own agenda.  By the time we get to the end of the book it is clear that there is still much to be discovered about Madoc and how he really feels about Jude and Taryn.

Angie Elle: Yes. It’s possible they’ve been pawns this entire time, and we just don’t know it yet. Maybe Madoc denied Jude the knighthood because he was hoping to put a thirst in her where she would do anything to obtain it.

What did you think of Jude’s desperation to prove herself in Fairyland?

Angie Elle: I was surprised at first. I would think, given that Madoc did murder her family, she would want out as soon as she was able to live on her own. But as the book progresses, it becomes clear that Jude is a survivor, and as this life is all she’s known, she’s determined to survive here.

Shanna: I felt that it is just a part of growing up, I think that Jude is at the age where that would be so important to her. This is a part of being a teenager and even bigger than that I think that by the end of this journey Jude will learn that acceptance comes from within.

What do you think of the relationship between Jude and her sisters?

Angie Elle: I was surprised. They were the exact opposite from what I’d expected. I had expected a certain amount of animosity toward Vivi because it was her world and her father that ultimately brought them to the fairy world. I thought Jude and her twin, Taryn, would cling to each other and Vivi would be on the outs. But they were all more distant that I’d expect from each other. It almost felt like an ‘every woman for herself’ situation.

Shanna: I totally agree Angie! It was nothing like I expected. I will say that I thought that Taryn and Jude would be more alike, and that Vivi would be the one out but instead it appeared that Vivi was common denominator. Which says alot about these sisters and the bond they have developed.

Angie Elle: Yes, and it’s interesting that of the three, it’s Vivi who longs most for a normal, human existence.

How would you describe the relationship between Cardan and his friends?

Angie Elle: Shallow and unpredictable. I thought that because Cardan was prince he would be the leader, and it does seem that way at first. It’s clear, though, by the end of the book that there’s a constant power struggle going on among the friends. And if something happened to any of them, I don’t think there would be any love lost.

Shanna: So at first, I thought they were the “It” crowd all the most privileged of the society, but once their stories start to unfold, it is clear that there is way more to this “friendship” than first noticed. In fact it seems that it is more of an alliance than a friendship. I would like to see where they all end up by the end.

Angie Elle: Well, we know where Valerian ended up. 😉

What is your opinion on the pacing of the book?

Angie Elle: It’s the pacing of this book that made me lower my rating. It’s at least 50% in before I feel like things really start happening. I had hoped we’d see some action long before that. It was a long way to the last half of the book!

Shanna: I agree with the pacing being off. And the worst part of it is that the slow pace in the beginning was not spent helping us understand our characters or the world that they live in better. I am of course hoping that this will be fixed in the next book.

Angie Elle: You’re right; it’s not even like it was slow. It’s just that nothing happened.

What did you think about Jude saving the servant girl from Balekin palace?

Angie Elle: Jude gave no thought to the fact that the woman might be compelled to not be able to leave the grounds. I thought it was a frivolous decision. And I thought it was very dangerous to give the servant girl her real name. And I still can’t decide if that felt authentic to her character.

Shanna: So for me, this is Jude growing up, she is making those decisions that are outside of what is acceptable in this world. She is choosing a path that is not going to get her to fit in, but it is a path that is character-building. It is the one she would take if all of this had not happened to her.

How do you feel about Locke and the game that he is playing?

Angie Elle: I don’t know! I was surprised at first, but when it was revealed that his features were fox-like, it was like duh! Sly and sneaky…of course he is playing games! I just wonder what his endgame is. It’s impossible for me to see!

Shanna: So I was more nervous about Lock than Cardan. I thought that there was just something nefarious about his character from the the time he kept looking at Jude, and the way that he interacted with her. I just had a bad feeling about him. I would like to see how he reacts to all that has happened in the next book, because we know that he loves drama, and is willing to make it when he can’t find it.

Prince Cardan obviously wasn’t a character who was meant to be liked. What was your impression of him at the end of this book?

Angie Elle: Oh, we ended this book with Cardan barely able to contain his rage. I do love the twist at the end – I never saw it coming. I can’t wait to see what happens when Jude’s time is up. She is going to have to be very convincing over the next year. I do want to say, though, that I thought Prince Cardan was very smart, and when it was revealed that he didn’t like sword-play and never trained, I was taken aback. It didn’t fit his character for me. It felt like sloppy characterization – even with just his friends, there was always so much of a power struggle. I think he has way more self-preservation than that and would have wanted to be prepared for anything.

Shanna: I thought that there was always something about Cardan that we were missing based on his interactions with Jude. There was just so much focus on someone who is supposed to be so far below him. Why even bother? As the son of the HIgh King why would a human bother you so much? So I think I was withholding judgement about him for most of the book. When we see the other side, it is clear that there is so much more to him. Watching him interact with Roach and Ghost, I just saw this completely different person. I love how cool and calm he is no matter the situation. I am looking forward to seeing him in the upcoming books.

Angie Elle: Yes – I think some of my favorite scenes with Cardan were with him being held hostage and spending time with Roach and Ghost.

Were you surprised at how much Oriana knew?

Angie Elle: Yes! I never once considered she might be a bigger player or more knowledgeable than Jude thought she was. I was so shocked – and surprised that she was so willing to share what she knew with Jude.

Shanna: I think not had how much she knew, but I was very surprised at the story that she knows. And it makes me wonder so much more about her as a character, all that we have missed. Because it is clear that Jude has lived with this woman for years and does not know much about her.

So, it’s clear we had some issues with this book, but what were your thoughts at the end of this book?

Angie Elle: This book did have a lot of issues for me, but the one thing this book did once it reached 50% was keep me in its thrall. I mean, once I was hooked, I. Was. Hooked. And with all the twists and turns, I, of course, have to know what happens. Jude is young and makes a lot of mistakes, but I love her character anyway, and I really want to know what happens. It’s clear she a character who is wily (and I’m betting she’ll just get even more wily – she’s going to have to,) and I want to see how far she’ll go to protect the crown and the ones she loves.

Shanna: So I wouldn’t say a lot of issues, but I did find a few of them. I agree the slow start that didn’t really help me to learn much was definitely a major issue. But once the main plot was made clear, I couldn’t stop reading. There were so many major O.M.G. moments. The plot twists that were thrown at me allowed me to know that this series is worth a shaky start. And the way the book ended also was very good. It wasn’t a major cliffhanger, it ended in a place that makes me want more, but I’m comforted by all that was wrapped up, and I am very much looking forward to the next book.

It’s clear that a lot went on in The Cruel Prince. As it’s a series kick-off, do you have predictions for future installments?

Shanna: So I have a few predictions in here, 1. Cardan and Jude will be King and Queen 2. Locke is going to be jealous about Cardan and Jude and will not marry Taryn 3. Madoc is coming for Cardan in an elaborate plot that I cannot figure out. 4. Vivi will be forced to come back

Angie Elle: I’m scared to even predict, because so much happened in this installment that I was expecting. But I think the opposite about Lock and Taryn – I think he will marry her just so he and Madoc can align and fight the crown! And I agree; Vivi will be forced to come back. I just hope this doesn’t turn into a musical kidnapping with the other prince of Fairy.

So in the end, did The Cruel Prince live up to the hype? You know, I think it did. For as slow as it was when it began, it was warp speed when it finally took off, and that ending… If you’re a fan of YA fantasy, I do think you will enjoy this book. I know I’ll be on the lookout for the next one!

I also just want to add a quick note about the audio – I don’t recommend it unless you are pairing it with the book for immersion reading. And the reason I say this is because as much as I like this narrator’s voice, she doesn’t change intonation between Jude’s thoughts and when Jude is actually speaking, making it hard to know what she is saying to who. Because of this, it can be hard to tell who knows what, and it ends up being too confusing. But again, she has a nice voice, so if you’re sitting down with the audio and the book, I think it could work.

| Our Rating |

Series | The Folk of the Air

1. The Cruel Prince
2. The Wicked King
3. The Queen of Nothing

14 thoughts on “Book Discussion * The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Add yours

  1. Good to know that it takes a bit to get underway, but looks like there are some interesting and surprising dynamics. Great discussion, ladies!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been hearing so many mixed things about this book. This is one that I was on the fence about, then all the hype started in and made me want to read it and bump it to the top of my list, now my library has a copy on hold for me and I’m not overly sure I want to read it now. :\

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I think it’s definitely worth the read. I am worried the hype may have ruined it for some people, but I think it was really good. Maybe it would be better for you to read when the hype dies down?


  3. Wonderful review/ discussion!! I completely agree with so many of the points you guys made. I wasn’t that impressed with the world building either, in fact, I thought that there was a lot that was lacking. But I did love the characters though, and that’s what kept me hooked in the end. I was so afraid that the hype would let me down, but now I can’t wait for The Wicked King next year!


    1. Oh my gosh, yes! I need The Wicked King yesterday! LOL I am hoping the world building will be fleshed out in the next book, and I am also hoping I feel more of a spark between Jude and Cardan. I do feel like that was absent in The Cruel Prince. He was too cruel for me to buy his affection for anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear that this series is connected to one of Holly’s earlier ones and that they take place in the same world so maybe there is more of this world that is explained there. But yeah I’m definitely looking for some development here. And Cardan needs to go through some serious change for me to buy into his and Jude’s relationship but we shall see. Can’t wait for January when I can finally read it!!

        Liked by 1 person

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