The book featured in the January Fairy Loot subscription box was The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. This is a book set in a magical world inhabited by Faeries and I have seen this book a lot on social media so was intrigued to find out more.
The protagonist in this story is a girl named Jude and when we first meet her we see how her life was torn apart. She was forced to witness the murder of her parents, and along with twin sister Taryn and their older sister Vivi, they are taken away from the mortal lands to live in Faerieland. Here they are raised by the fearsome general Madoc as his own, and here they must adapt to a new life. Here Jude is something of an outsider. A human girl amongst fey, she finds herself on the sidelines, struggling to fit in within the strange new world which she is desperate to become part of. She wishes to fight for someone, and stand for something, though it proves difficult to decide who to fight for as she becomes immersed in a complex world of political allegiances. She is left to work out who can be trusted, and where her allegiances must lay. She faces challenges along the way, including her treatment at the hands of the ‘Cruel Prince’ – Prince Cardan. She is left humiliated by his actions, but as the novel progresses we discover more about the Prince, unravelling his history, and discovering what has made him the person he has become. And it transpires there is more to this world than meets the eye, and Prince Cardan’s character is far more complex than first thought.
The prologue of this book intrigued me, the disturbing events leaving me interested in finding out more. This is a dark tale which features plenty of drama, action and a few twists and turns along the way. I particularly enjoyed Jude’s character and it was interesting to her as she tries to find her place, becoming a spy in the process although there is doubt over where allegiances may lay. I found the other characters within the Court to be fascinating as well, and enjoyed finding out more about them. During the story I found myself changing my mind about the characters and who could be trusted. Holly Black has created characters that are loathsome, and others that you root for. But as the plot develops we learn that not everything is as it seems, and my opinion on certain characters changed a little. I did find the pacing a little slow in parts, but as it progressed I became more invested in the story and it built up to a conclusion which was satisfying but also hints at more to come in the next book in the series. The world of Elfhame, and all the darkness within, was well depicted with vivid imagery which helped me picture this dangerous world filled with the beauty of magic.
The Cruel Prince was an intriguing dark fantasy novel with a fascinating array of characters. It is a story which explores the politics of a magical world, and how a mortal girl finds her place within it – a promising start to a new fantasy series.