Enigmatic and bold, The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was a gripping fantasy novel about three sisters growing up in the land of Faerie with the man who killed their parents. Brimming with complex characters and political conspiracies, the story played out in a dramatic fashion from beginning to end. The writing–skilled in engulfing the reader into the world and in keeping a suspenseful plot–grew upon itself with each new chapter and made it impossible to put down.
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.
Jude was an unusual leading character; a flawed heroine shaped by her environment but daringly unapologetic in her need to fight back. She was a product of a decade spent proving her worth to a guardian and kingdom that represented the destruction of the life she once knew, and yet for a girl who wanted nothing but to belong, her journey to finding it would take everything she has. With each sister having chosen a different path in coping with the difficulties of being mortal in an immortal land, their paths converged to a tension-filled crescendo that changed the entire game and then kept on giving.
As the first in a planned trilogy, Black’s story not only laid the groundwork for more, but had enough development and action to feel like a full story on its own. Heroines like Jude don’t frequent fiction often, but when they do, their stories cannot help but stick with you. And though the romance aspect was slight, I’m anxious for how it’ll blossom as the story continues. Black’s masterful storytelling created an enchanting read, one that I cannot wait for more of.
Black is a best selling author who has written and collaborated on a number of popular young adult fiction novels and series.
I give this 5 out of 5 stars.