BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly BlackThe Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
by Holly Black
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven 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.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.

Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest, with black hair as iridescent as a raven’s wing and cheekbones sharp enough to cut out a girl’s heart. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

This book gave me life…for the second time around.

And it’s crazy, really, that sometimes it takes reading a book at a different time in your life (less busy, in my case) for it to really become something to obsess over. I’ll admit that, while I adored Cardan and Jude the first time around, it was a 4 star for me. It was wonderful, really, but that obsessive spark I find myself tapping into often didn’t quite appear. So, when my friend read it and didn’t quite fall hard for it, I felt a fierce need to defend it. Not because it doesn’t have 1,000,000 reviews and reviewers singing it’s praises, because it does. And it certainly doesn’t need my little review to defend it. However, sometimes the fangirl reviews are just that-fangirl reviews. And I like to bring a little reality to the table.

I cannot seem to contort myself back into the shape of a dutiful child.
I am coming unraveled. I am coming undone.

I’ll admit I’ve fallen prey to this many times, writing reviews from the bottom of my little fangirl heart. But a lot of times, random people who stumble onto a book’s page think that all the praise means it’s a sure thing. And, frankly, it’s not. Just because I love and obsess over a book doesn’t mean it is without it’s flaws. For instance, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, ya know? So, even though I LOVE harsh, simplistic writing instead of a heavy poetic prose, that doesn’t mean that everyone feels that way. In fact, it might surprise people because they are expecting the best of the best….and, to many, it was, but to others they might wonder what the fuss was about because it was so understated and simple. But that’s why I am forever a fan of Holly black (I loved her White Cat series)-The subtle severity wrapped in beautiful, simplistic words.

I want to scream at him: Do you know how hard it is to always keep your head down? To swallow insults and endure outright threats? And yet I have done so. I thought it proved my toughness. I thought if you saw I could take whatever came at me and still smile, you would see that I was worthy.
You’re no killer.
He has no idea what I am.

For me, that was the beauty of this book. Mean, cruel, unrelenting fae and the humans who were swept away into a world where they have to adapt to be just as cunning and harsh as those that surround them, lest they be taken advantage of…or worse, die. The beauty was in the simplicity of the delivery of such nasty moments. It’s not as cruel if it’s not stretched into three descriptive, over the top sentences, right? Wrong. It’s almost worse-and that’s why I’m so so here for it.

Do not reveal your skill with a blade. Do not reveal your mastery over glamour. Do not reveal all that you can do.
Little did Prince Dain know that my real skill lies in pissing people off.

Jude was, I’m sorry, literally such a sly, devious bada**. She makes mistakes, clearly, but she meets Cardan’s worst moments head to head with nary a look of fear on her face…even though she’s shaking from the inside out. Now, that varies between anger and fear, I’ll admit-but keeping a calm, cool, and collected persona in the face of your nemesis is amazing, no matter the fluff on the inside.

What they don’t realize is this: Yes, they frighten me, but I have always been scared, since the day I got here. I was raised by the man who murdered my parents, reared in a land of monsters. I live with that fear, let it settle into my bones, and ignore it. If I didn’t pretend not to be scared, I would hide under my owl-down coverlets in Madoc’s estate forever. I would lie there and scream until there was nothing left of me. I refuse to do that. I will not do that.

And sweet, tortured, menacing Cardan. I loved him even more the second time around. How? I don’t know. But he is bae now. He is everything…I lapped everything up he did-and I have to wonder if it’s because I knew about all his layers beforehand, so I was already a goner, then I got to re-lap him up and drool over him some more. All the while knowing all his deepest, darkest secrets and his true intentions or the menace behind his words. It makes a difference, for me, to be honest. To know someone’s true face behind a mask-thus, I fell for him harder.

“So I am to sit here and feed you information,” Cardan says, leaning against a hickory tree. “And you’re to go charm royalty? That seems entirely backward.”
I fix him with a look. “I can be charming. I charmed you, didn’t I?”
He rolls his eyes. “Do not expect others to share my depraved tastes.”

And that’s why I waited SO LONG (I read this the day it came out in January) to write this review-I bided my time so I could refresh myself and write a review that was worthy of such an epic novel, so it could be fresh in my mind and so I could give it fair review. And here is where I will capitalize on what I mentioned earlier-I LOVE to fangirl-but many times we love a book so much we don’t tell people the whole story. We don’t give a circumspect view on an otherwise addicting story, so those who aren’t just all about this or that know better than to even give this a try. Like, okay, I trust a review a LOT more if someone does sour AND sweet, as opposed to just sweet. I may love a book, but I can see the flaws, too. Like, for this book, I loved everything about it-though, I do wish there was more school where they were all mean to Jude. Yeah yeah, I’m masochistic, okay? But, this time around that didn’t bother me as much. I saw how the story unfolded and wanted to just bask in every moment. And while I love the nastiness…some might find all the characters a bit unredeemable.

Whatever essential thing the other Jude has, whatever part that’s unbroken in her and broken in me, that thing might be unrecoverable. Vivi is right; it cost me something to be the way I am. But I do not know what. And I don’t know if I can get it back. I don’t even know if I want it.
But maybe I could try.

While many of us LIVE for unredeemable characters (and honestly, they ARE redeemable, but it’s hard to see that haha), lots of people want kindness or more to root for on the GOOD side, not just the revenge side, like all of us relentless, bloodthirsty, vicious fans 😉. And, honestly, if you didn’t like fae before, you’ll likely not like them here-this story is a great example of the worst side of fae, and therefore won’t win you over…unless you like lots of, as mentioned above, vicious, unrelenting bloodshed to get what you want lol.

Faerie might be beautiful, but its beauty is like a golden stag’s carcass, crawling with maggots beneath his hide, ready to burst.

So see? I don’t mind a little horrificness with my cereal, but many do. So that was my warning. Where I see depth and amazing character arcs, many would be affronted. Not I, though. And, the writing. I’m sorry, but the GD writing. Good LORD I loved it. So simplistic yet so beautiful! I can’t even hardly stand it!

Of course, Taryn is right about stories. Bad things happen to those princesses. They are pricked with thorns, poisoned by apples, married to their own fathers. They have their hands cut off and their brothers turned into swans, their lovers chopped up and planted in basil pots. They vomit up diamonds. When they walk, it feels as though they’re walking on knives.

So I guess I’ll leave you here. It’s all about what you like/want/need in a novel. For me, a little peril, a forbidden romance, some cruelty and smexy I-hate-you-but-let’s-make-out is all I really need-BAHA! I mean, what more could I possibly ask for? Do I think this is overhyped? Partially-it’s not fair to say it’s wholly overhyped because it is a truly wonderful book and it deserves so much praise for such subtle severity wrapped up into such a sexy little book package. And people deserve to love it how they want. However, I’ve read 5 other books I loved just as much that are hardly talked about at all. Ten, even. But that’s just how it goes, right? Some stand out above the rest. My biggest advice, if you live under a rock, that is, and haven’t read this yet, is to go in with the mindset that it’s overhyped and not to expect too much…and frankly you’ll adore it. And, come on, not only do I have a MASSIVE crush on my cruel prince, but I have a girl crush on the human, Jude-the girl who (view spoiler). But, to be honest, I had a crush on her long before that. What can I say? I love a girl who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty *shrug*. I’ll jump in on that hype.


Re-reading bc why not?? I LOVED this (Cardan) in January and I literally am in the mood for nothing. Plus I still owe this masterpiece a review. Let the blood bath begin…

You haven’t seen the least I can do >.<

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  1. Flavia @ Flavia the Bibliophile

    Yaaaaay! So glad you loved this one too! 😀
    Flavia @ Flavia the Bibliophile recently posted…October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire: Books 2-6 (Multiple Bullet Point Reviews)My Profile

    • Chelsea (Peril Please)

      I sure did!!! SOOOO GOOD!

  2. Reese

    I agree 100%, from your preface about fangirl vs ‘real/objective’ reviews to the actual review of the book.
    I’ve seen a lot of fangirling, some people who were not impressed, but also a lot who just… chose the wrong book? I don’t know, I’ve seen many people disappointed with how unlikable the characters are and worried about the possibility of an abusive romance, and I think a lot of it comes from not knowing beforehand that Holly Black writes the nasty kind of fae, not the Tinkerbell type, so you need to go in expecting shades of gray instead of Good Guys vs Bad Guys… If that makes any sense at all.

    • Chelsea (Peril Please)

      Oh, it so does. And I fall victim to being a part of the fangirldom for my absolute favorite books all the time-however, I do tend to cover both sides of the spectrum. I don’t care how much you love a book-there is always something you know someone else might not like.

      But alas, we all love our books!!! It’s hard to diss on them!! 😀

      BUT-an abusive relationship??? Lol I don’t think I got that from any part of the story…..but that’s just me. How can they be in an abusive relationship if they never were in one to begin with? Just a thought.

  3. Raven

    Great review, Chelsea! I’m glad you enjoyed re-reading this book. I haven’t read it yet but heard I’ve great about things about it especially about Cardan. I’m planning to pick this up on winter because I know this book will keep me warm. *wink wink*
    Raven recently posted…Spinning Silver By Naomi Novik [Review]My Profile

    • Chelsea (Peril Please)

      haha!!! Wow. Well…it certainly had a *couple* heated moments. However, maybe keep a blanket present, as well. 😉 You need some ice with these burns lol

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