For the past year, I've often bought a monthly book box, called Fairyloot, filled with book related goodies and a newly released novel. The items are secret and often have an overlapping theme, such as Twisted Tales (last month's theme). I've come to really appreciate this monthly surprise, not only because it supplies me with new novels I wouldn't necessarily hear about otherwise, but also because they often include gorgeous art work surrounding some of my favourite stories (such as A Court of Thorns and Roses, Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, Fairy Tales, and other fantasy novels. I was gifted The Cruel Prince in January's book box, which theme was "Talk Faerie To Me", written by Holly Black. Usually it takes me a while to get around to reading the books, simply because there's a lot I have to read for uni; however, Holly Black is coming to Waterstones in Norwich, so I decided to read the novel so I could attend the reading. Here's the synopsis (just because I'm hesitant to summarising it myself for fear of spoiling things).
Illustration byMerwild. Photo by myself.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.
I have to say that the synopsis (as provided on the cover as well as on Goodreads) is quite deceiving. The way it's presented it seems as if the whole novel surrounds Jude and her deception of Cardan, but really that's not even close to the truth. It's also deceiving in the sense that this synopsis gave me the impression that Jude might be the eldest and her two sister her junior. This is not the case. Instead Jude has a twin, Taryn, and a sister who is two years their senior, Vivi or Vivienne, who is part fey, part human. I expected Vivi to be the main focus of the tale as she is the reason they are taken to the land of the fey, but this is not the case. I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. I was engaged from the first page, as it starts so brutally, but mainly due to the choice of protagonist and narrator.
Some elements of the tale were quite predictable, while others were completely unexpected (though, I do have to say, I should have known better by now). I am not entirely sure if I particularly like or trust any of the characters (not even Jude), but that they are relatable in their situations. I feel like Holly Black tried to make a strong case for the fact that fey (and by extension those who wish to be like or among them) often engage in inhuman activities. I finished the novel within a day as I quite enjoyed reading it and didn't feel the need to stop reading. It's engaging and the writing style kept me on the edge of my seat. But I really enjoy YA novels, strong willed female characters, and (lets be honest) attractive Fae, or fey in this case. However, these are not the kind of Fae I'm used to. The ones I've come to adore in Sarah J Maas' world are good and kind (or at least, most of them). These more closely resemble Cassandra Clare's faeries, which partially explains the dedication of The Cruel Prince (as it is dedicated to Clare).
Some elements were very predictable, while others were unexpected (though I should have known better). Nevertheless, I finished the novel within a day and I quite enjoyed doing so. It's engaging, and the writing style kept me on the edge of my seat. But then I really enjoy YA novels, strong female characters, and Fae, though these aren't the good kind of Fae like Sarah J Maas' her characters, no they are rather like Clare's faeries (which partially explains the dedication of the book).