This is my latest book club book. Which was really exciting as I love Holly Black.
Her YA novel Tithe is possibly one of the main reasons I ever became obsessed with Young Adult books, and one of my earliest stories (which I guess in hindsight was a practice book) was heavily influenced by her world of frightening faeries.
And this book? I am really glad to report that I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Cruel Prince’.
YA fantasy can be a real hit and miss for me, so it got me wondering what it was about this book that worked, what was it I really loved and why is it that I am actually keen to get my hands on the sequel and keep reading this story?
The protagonist of this story was quite fascinating. Not at first, mind you, but she developed beautifully as the story progressed, and the awful frustrated anger welling up inside her just really got me. The more she gives in to this building anger and dissatisfaction with the way she is treated by the faeries around her, the more vicious she gets.
And boy, does this girl ever get vicious!
And I freaking loved it. A lot.
It is like witnessing the slow-burn origin story of a terrifying assassin, an examination of how someone who schemes and kills and feels no remorse, actually got to be that way.
And my favourite thing about Jude was that she really had no idea where her moral line was either. She has no set in stone ethical high-ground, the wall she will not breach just keeps pushing further and further back, until it becomes clear there is not a lot Jude will not do.
Her motivation for her actions is also simply... power. She wants it. She wants a lot of it. And she’ll stop at nothing until she gains it.
It made me think a lot about what a terrifying combination anger and helplessness are. I think in real life they are the ingredients for the most terrible of things that humans are capable of doing, and I loved that ‘The Cruel Prince’ explored this in a way that felt believable, and Jude’s journey from bullied teen to a girl with no lines left to cross was... scary.
In the best of ways.
Cos I like scary.
Yeah I liked it. I think it took a while to get going and move from a schoolyard bullying story into something so much more.
The whole story expands dramatically outward in the second half, and that’s the point I was riveted.
But in saying that, the first half isn’t a hard read at all, cos it’s pretty clear the story is going somewhere, I just couldn’t guess where. I was never bored, just that in the second half I was INTO IT, instead of just feeling into it.
I am super glad I never read the blurb to this one as it makes it pretty damn clear who the love interest is on the back cover of the book... which is a bit annoying. I mean it’s pretty obvious from the opening chapters too, but it takes a while to go anywhere beyond the ‘Cruel’ prince part, so it was nice not to fully know.
Guess the title gives it away anyway though....
I guess I liked it? I mean, the boy’s an absolute douche canoe, so to be honest it’s kind of hard imagining anyone being attracted to him at all... but I guess that’s the point.
And besides, Jude’s not an absolute idiot. She spends a lot of time in this book swinging between wanting to kill him and wanting to... kill him.
Which was fine by me.
I think a full assessment of the love story portion would need to happen after book two (which I am fully on board for by the way!)
All in all a really excellent YA read, a satisfying plot that pushes waaay far at certain points, and a fascinating look at the development of a scary scary girl.
Oh Jude. I really do like you.
Does anyone have any other thoughts on this novel?
Have you read it?
Did you enjoy it?