Genre: Fantasy, Fae, Young Adult
Rating: 4/5 stars
Brace yourselves, folks, we're jumping on the hype wagon!
“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”
First Stop: Elfhame
With all the raving reviews about The Cruel Prince, how could little ol' Katerina resist? The Hype (yes, Hype with a capital H because it's a being of its own that swallows the innocent and the weak) was a siren, luring me to dive into its dark waters, and, thankfully, I was not eaten alive. With a successful blend of modern world and faerie lore, Holly Black created a dangerous and mesmerizing tale, a gripping saga focused on intrigue, schemes and backstabbings. Jude was seven years old when a cruel fae showed up on her doorstep, murdering her parents and taking her and her sisters to the realm of the Immortals, a realm so beautiful and imposing that hid how rotten and tainted it was on the inside. Despite her best efforts, Jude was always humiliated and taunted, a worm daring to live and train among their perfect kin. And her greatest tormentor? Prince Cardan and his band of merry evil men minions. With the coronation of the next king approaching, Jude found her opportunity to shine, to grab a place for herself and hold it with her bleeding hands. But with plots set into motion, and disorienting deceptions, maybe finding her place means giving up the little humanity that's still left in her.
“Because you're like a story that hasn't happened yet. Because I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale.”
Next stop: Lake of Backstabbing
People who compare The Cruel Prince to Game of Thrones are not exaggerating. The conspiracies, the hidden agendas, and the masterful way they unfold manage keep you at the edge of your seat thoughout the story, you sweat and sweat and wonder who has the upper hand and who is going to perish, whose blood is going to spill, who is the good guy and who the villain (well, in all honesty all of them are the villains but a girl can hope, right?), and you can't help but feel a rush of adrenaline each time those horrible creatures plot and stab and spy and then plot some more. And when all this plotting and stabbing and spying takes place in idyllic landscapes, manors and balls, you can understand why I'm such a goner.
Next stop: Temple of Hate
A curious thing happened with The Cruel Prince; I didn't like the main characters. At all. Was I fascinated? Of course, they were beautiful and monstrous, and that combination sparked a flare of curiosity to see how their stories will play out, but come on, they're horrible! (expect Vivi, you go girl!)
Beneath her frail mortal body and her too-short lifespan, Jude was a hungry, ruthless beast craving power, scheming, betraying, and wanting with a fiery need to become one the creatures that tortured her and rejected her. I was rooting for her to an extent, if only to teach those awful fae that expendable humans can outmaneuver them, but she really needs to calm down, this hunger consumed her thoughts and didn't leave place for other, more pleasant sentiments. Don't get me started on her parade of stupid decisions. And Cardan was not better. Fine YES I had a tiny crush on him (thumbs up for dark jerks who hide their pain), but that doesn't erase the fact that he's cruel, irresponsible and petty, a true bully. Madoc, Locke, Dain, Taryn, they were hideous, but let me tell you this, that is not a bad thing. Sure, I didn't particularly connect with them, but this detachment liberated me from the usual fear for their lives, or sorrow for their misfortunes, only the occassional anger and disgust. I was invested in their story and not in them, but somehow this magnified the reading experience! I was there for the bumpy ride, for the malice and the power bid, I sank my teeth into their rotten fruit and was bewitched by their depravity.
“There's always something left to lose.”
Terminal station: Vale of Fangirling
The Cruel Prince was a beguiling, wicked tale of power, lust, secrets and magic. The world Holly Black painted, with her lush descriptions, the revels and the colourful creatures that came straight out of a storybook is a place worth visiting, and cherishing. Drunk on enchanted wine, exhausted from dancing in fancy dresses until my foot hurt, clammy from the swordfights but deliciously invigorated, I am all too eager to return to Elfhame and be a part of the High Court!