Review: The Cruel Prince

3.5 out of 5 stars

It took me a while to get into this one, but I was in by the end.

Goodreads.com: The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black (The Folk of the Air #1)

prince2The land of Faerie is real. Jude and her twin sister, Taryn, both human, were taken there by the man who killed their parents. He was once her mother’s husband, and father to their half-sister. He takes his daughter, and her sisters, home. Now teenagers, Jude and Taryn tread the realm, as different from the Folk as can be. They’re the targets of hatred and bullying, their status lesser, because they’re human. And the worst bully of all is Prince Cardan, youngest of the King’s brood.

Let me start by saying that Cardan is a lot. Off the bat, his meanness and bullying are so aggro that he’s boring. Predictably hateable. And I did hate him, and nearly hated this book. He could have been as awful in a far more interesting way. As his foil, Jude isn’t much stronger. She takes the abuse, then breaks, then freaks out… the pages almost turn themselves, because you’ve read all this before. But as the story progresses, the book overcomes its weak start.

prince1Holly Black’s version of Faerie is a strong point. It’s beautiful and scary, dark and twisted. She captures the maniacal legends of the fey in ways other writers miss. As Jude struggles to adjust, so does the reader. Also working is Jude’s strange family dynamic. Her father, Madoc, assures her comfortable life, but he also murdered her real parents. Her faerie half-sister, Vivienne, longs for the human world, while her human sister, Taryn, is desperate to fit in in Faerie. Jude seeks her own lofty goal, in a land where she can’t hope to compete.

Love triangles abound. I didn’t care much about them because Taryn is awful. She’s a disastrous trope of a female character, like some wannabe 50’s housewife desperate for a man to secure her place. She’ll take anyone – literally, she takes the person who treats her the absolute worst, and no one points this out! Apparently they all hate her as much as I did. Luckily, it makes Jude look rational and, as the plot thickens, even makes Cardan relatable. In a twisted way.

I’m looking forward to more of this story (and hopefully less of Taryn).

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