If you hurt me, I wouldn’t cry. I would hurt you back – Holly Black.
I have heard mutterings of this story, different tales of how incredibly written and wickedly magical the book is to words of disappointment and futility. Personally, I was gripped from the very first page. There are not a lot of stories that open with a stranger in the mist who kills the parents of three young girls in – what seems like – cold blood, and then whisks them away in the dead of night to a land that was taught as make-believe, non-existent and very unlike the pretty nature of the stories told.
Madoc is the name of the stranger and he is no stranger at all. He is Vivi’s true father, a faerie general in favour with the High King of Faerie. Vivi, Jude and her twin sister’s, Taryn, mother was human. Although humans, Jude and Taryn grow up as the gentry of Faerie, bound to Madoc and protected by his influence. Despite being in such high regard in the gentry of the Fey, human girls playing make believe as faeries don’t make it very far unless they play their own games, strategize their own intelligence and make plans of their own.
Jude is the protagonist of The Cruel Prince. She is headstrong, never backs down and doesn’t plan to melt into the background of faerie, allowing her life to become something of nothing. An enemy of Jude’s (she has many) declares that humans are dying as soon as they breathe their first breath of life, therefore are of no consequence. As for faeries, they live long, centuries-old lives that will make any human years a mere drop in the vast ocean. It is words like these, and faeries like him, who fuel her fire, who make her want to succeed in a way that he never could when all he wanted to do with those words was drown her out, make her crawl, wither and die.
Jude’s life becomes far worse before it gets better, if one could argue that it betters at all. Her bullies attempt to make an example of her, a mockery of her very being. Prince Cardan, the ruthless, cruel youngest of the royal family, rules the mob that attempts to bring her down. Whilst her twin, Taryn, fears for her life and her reputation, Jude refuses to bow to her prince and his friends. With every step that she makes, they push her tenfold back and still, she never backs down. Cardan loathes her; every single hair on her head and fibre in her bones, he loathes her. She loathes him just as much.
Cardan is a character that you love to hate. He is your worst nightmare and he knows it. And yet, his complexities satiate you in more ways that you could hope for. You believe he is the obvious choice for a love interest. It isn’t a young adult fantasy without the angst and hatred between two lovers, but there are no mixed signals. Just hatred, pure and simple…
The story itself has magical, abrupt twists and turns that keep the tendrils of your hairs on end and your mind racing with what could happen next. I am the first to see something coming, but I did not see two out of the four biggest plot twists until the words jumped out of the very page and I had to carry on reading furiously in order to get my fill.
I am completely enthralled by this book and the beginning of Jude’s exasperating, exhilarating and frightening journey. It is full of a dark, all-consuming magic and madness that you are hooked on from the very first word. I guess you could say this book is like the faerie fruit to us mere mortals. It will make you sick with anticipation and hungry for more no matter how much it satiates you.
Have you read The Cruel Prince? What are your thoughts? I’ll be reading The Wicked King as soon as I can and then hoping that somebody treats me to The Queen of Nothing for my birthday because I am still successfully doing my book ban for this year!
Love, Faye xo