All YA

The Cruel Prince By Holly Black: A Great Beginner Fantasy Novel

The Cruel Prince was published in 2018 and was the talk of the town when it came out, I remember the book constantly being recommended to me by my friends and essentially anyone who read Young Adult Fiction and Fantasy. I, personally was never really a fan of the Fantasy genre back in High School, but I got to revisit the book last year! Here’s my take on it.


Tags: Fantasy, YA, Fiction, Romance

Adult Content: None, though there are violent depictions/killings in the novel


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 years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.

-Indigo (2022)

So as I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t really a big fan of Fantasy books. More specifically those that were based around fae and faeries. I found many of these to have an insane amount of detail in regards to the world, the lore etc. It also takes a lot of will to outsmart fae, because so many things are part of the lore, this can easily trigger someone because they play a lot of games and tricks. Also, if you aren’t used to reading lengthy novels (which sometimes is the norm for fae/faerie-based books), then I highly recommend giving the audiobook versions a try.

I borrowed the audiobook of The Cruel Prince via Libby/my local public library and found that I was surprisingly enthralled with the novel now that I can actually appreciate the world-building and lore in fantasy books. Despite that, I also had to take a lot of reading breaks for my own sake. The buildup for the novel had a lot of slow or fast moments that made for an exciting read. If you’re used to fae/faerie-themed novels or fantasy genre books, you’ll like The Cruel Prince.

Now onto my thoughts, without the spoilers of course. The Cruel Prince is actually a prime example of a great YA book, and there’s a bit more violence and gore in comparison to dystopian genre YA, but this is actually kind of normal for most fantasy books believe it or not. The plot of the novel can more or less be guessed, especially if you’ve been reading a lot of similar books. But for anyone who hasn’t read fae-fantasy books, then this is actually a great book for you to start with.

I totally forgot to mention, but if you enjoy books that have courts, royalty of hierarchies, then fae-genre books are totally for you but they’re kind of like the darker, more violent and supernatural version of that.

*Contains Spoilers*

Fair warning, this section you’ve opened may or may not contain spoilers for The Cruel Prince, read through this section at your own peril (lol) if you have not finished this book!

I personally did like the idea of Lark and Jude, but I thought that they were a bit too much of a picture-perfect couple for this series. So I’m totally on board with Jude and Cardan, nothing is better than a bit of a love-hate relationship in a YA novel no? It also helps that there seems to be a lot of chemistry between the two. However, I was really skeptical this would end up kind of like Shadow and Bone’s Alina and The Darkling, where the couple we think is endgame (they defy all odds and end up together by the end of the book) actually isn’t and turn out to be enemies.

My biggest confusion throughout the series was that some of the chapters seemed to be straight out of a diary, specifically chapter 14. I literally thought my audiobook had glitched out with how often “Jude” was repeated, and on the side, I wondered how the voice actor thought about that specific part and having to repeat that name over and over.

The world-building made it really easy to envision Faerie, and I thought the characters were really believable. Without giving any spoilers, I’ll be continuing the series after a bit of a break but I highly recommend this book so far!

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