The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

4 stars

Reviewed by Makenna.

"Lush, dangerous, a dark jewel of a book." --Leigh Bardugo

This description of The Cruel Prince is very accurate. Set in the fantastical land of Faerie, a place kept secret from the 21st century modern world that lies just beyond its magical borders, this book is a well-done fantasy novel that follows a 17-year-old human girl, Jude Duarte, as she journeys deep into the heart of the Faerie Court, involving herself in mystery, intrigue, politics, and messy romance.

I enjoyed the book, but there are things in it that I would label as objectionable when recommending an age group for it. The main character and her sisters (twin Taryn and older sister Vivi) end up in Faerie because Madoc, Vivi's real father, finds them in the human world after being left by their mother before Vivi was born. Madoc kills the mother and the twins' father, and this is just the start of the bloodshed. Throughout the story, prominent characters fight and kill ruthlessly, and some of the deaths are a bit graphic--not horrible, but bad enough to be put under advisement.

Jude's actions in the story are revengeful, deceptive, and her world is not black-and-white, but colored with varying shades of gray. Betrayal and secrets abound, even in Jude's relationship with her twin sister, Taryn. Political intrigue is at the forefront, and it gets pretty messy--and Jude is at the center of the it all. She struggles with her morality and with balancing love and duty.

A brief romance between Jude and a boy, as well as descriptions of the extravagant and morally bankrupt Faerie Court, lend a few racy details to the story, but nothing that goes into too much detail. Jude and the boy do not engage in anything beyond kissing.

Overall, the story is good, the book well-written and original in its setting. The character types were a little typical, but not so much that it wasn't enjoyable. A few twists caught me by surprise, but others were predictable. I did enjoy the book, and I'm hoping that Holly Black intends on releasing a sequel.