The Cruel Prince

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Are There Lesbians? Yes

What Happens?
Jude is kidnapped by faeries as a young girl. As a mortal in the faerie realm she has to work hard to prove herself to those who look down on her. When she is offered the chance to work for a member of the royal family, Jude must unravel a murderous mystery before it is too late.

The Verdict:
I’m so happy there is another Holly Black book out in the world. I loved The Darkest Part of the Forest and was super excited when I found out that The Cruel Prince was going to be set in the same universe. There’s no-one who writes the Fae better than Ms Black and this book certainly proves that. I started this book thinking it was going to be rather generic and then it took a massive turn and people just started… dying. So many people die in this book, dear lord, I think Holly Black is trying to compete with J.K Rowling and George R.R. Martin for the title of most characters killed in one book.

We have been given a super kickass and complex heroine in Jude – there’s plenty to love about her but its easy to see that she has flaws, especially her stubbornness! It is also refreshing to see a character be a little bit dumb and not quite work out what’s going on until something bad has happened. I feel like Jude is a very real character, I don’t feel like I’m yelling at her to do certain things, except for when she doesn’t take the chance to leave Faerie for good. But then, if she had, there would be no story. The three sisters in the book all have such diverse personalities, I have to say that Vivi, the eldest, is my favourite by far. She’s just so cute and I would love a book that is all about her and her girlfriend. Seriously Holly Black, I need a short story about how they met. Vivi’s character and her relationship with her sisters just makes me so happy. I didn’t know what I expected but I don’t think I was expecting her to just be so awesome and cool.

Now, lets talk about the real (anti) hero of the book – Cardan. I love Cardan. I am always a big fan of a proper, non-woobified villain, and Trash Prince Cardan is certainly that. At his base he is a bully and a tyrant and to those who shout “but he was abused by his brother!” I say, in the immortal words of Jake Peralta, “cool motive, still murder.” I’ve read a disturbingly large number of YA novels that use the abuse of a character as a child to excuse their terrible behaviour. It feels like this trend is saying that a) all is excused if someone else was once a dick to you, and b) people who are abused as children turn out to be dicks. It’s just not cool and this needs to stop. Please come up with something more original for your backstory. Let villains just be villains without giving them sob-stories I’m almost definitely going to ignore anyway. I like my villains genuinely evil. It makes it all the more satisfying for my favourite enemies to friends to lovers story arcs. Which I’m really hoping Cardan and Jude get by the way. But only as long as he stays his arrogant, bin-like self. In all seriousness though, content creators, please come up with something new if you want us to feel sympathetic for your villains. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

It feels like it’s been such a long time since I engaged with a book the way I did with The Cruel Prince. You may not have noticed, but it has really brought out my inner fangirl in all her terrible glory. I cannot wait for The Wicked King to come out later this year, I have no idea what to expect, but I know it’s going to be wonderful.

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