The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air Trilogy)

Author: Holly Black

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Politics

Format: Hardback

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Watching the death of their parents at the age of seven and being stolen from the human world to the High Court of Faerie was a burden Vivian, Taryn and Jude had to carry for the rest of their lives. Adding to the pain was being raised by the murderer himself. Accepting her reality and the world she has grown attached to, Jude learns to 

challenge the status quo by facing a truth that slowly grew inside her. She finds herself in the midst of a political conspiracy and uncovers her capacity to commit bloodshed and deception for the protection of her family and Faerie.

I’m utterly gob smacked by how immersed I got into this book. I initiated it with low expectations but it swept me off the rug when things started to take off half way through. The story is completely narrated by the main protagonist/anti-heroine, Jude Duarte. I was awestruck by her transformation from a passive person who just tolerated being bullied by the royals to becoming downright ruthless in executing schemes to overrule Prince Balekin’s plan to take over the Faerie Kingdom. Her evolvement from a person who wanted to find a place in her new home into an ambitious person playing with political fire, felt very raw and real.

The common denominators which I found very intriguing in this book was how grey the morals of the characters were. Their motivations were ambiguous and their personalities not necessarily likeable, yet to my surprise I couldn’t dismiss them completely.  

An example that comes to mind is Madoc, the General of the High King and the murderer of Jude’s parents who took on a parental role towards Jude and her twin sister Taryn and grew to love them as his own.

Another example is Jude’s character. Even though Jude claims to her duty of safeguarding the throne for seven years until her brother, Oak, reaches the rightful age to take over, it is unclear where her motivations lie as she plays the puppet master behind former Prince Cardan whom she crowned as the stand-in King and it’s almost as if everything she has worked for, has come in full circle and she has truly found her place to grab hold of power beyond her imagination.

Among other things, bullying is an aspect I didn’t enjoy in this book. It was difficult to read through and I guess Holly uses this later as a growth devise for Jude.

I don’t often read books involving protagonists becoming anti-heroes or antagonists so I thoroughly enjoyed the twist. I found the story arcs thrilling and jaw dropping at times and the suspenseful moments as nerve wrecking. The story starts out slow which can be misleading but pay attention to the nuances and it will pick up the pace half way through. I’m really excited for the sequel: “The Wicked King” and uncovering the journey Holly Black has in store for us.


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