13 May, 2019

#BookReview :: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

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.

I have been recommended Holly Black by so many people that I couldn’t but help pick this series up. I wish someone had warned me.

The book opens with a brutal murder scene where Madoc murders a woman and her husband in front of a child. We then find out that Vivi, Jude and Taryn’s mother used to be married to Madoc and had fled after faking her own death when she was pregnant with Vivi. Madoc brought his heir back to the Fae world and also took the responsibility of raising his ex-wife’s human children as his own. Jude, our protagonist, is one of the human children and Taryn is her twin. Under Madoc’s protection and tutelage, Jude is becoming an expert at navigating the Fae world and aspires to become a knight of the fae court. A coup to overthrow the fae king is underway and Jude must find a way to survive even if it means cutting a deal with Cardan, the cruel prince who hates humankind.

First, I would like to concentrate on the aspects of the book that I did like. First and foremost is the world that the author has built for this series. While fae and humans surviving side by side is not a novel concept, the author has built up this world with detailed information on the political situation in the fae world. The number of creatures among the fae kind was also interesting to read about. But what was very interesting was the fact that in this fae world, there are a few humans living alongside in some capacity or the other. For instance, Jude’s mother was a human and the man she eloped with was also a human smith who lived and worked in the fae world. In addition to the world set up, I also enjoyed the author’s story telling style which has a smooth flow and is easy to get into. There are certain characters that I found quite interesting. Jude, for instance, is a human girl trying to survive in the fae world. She knows that she needs to have protection and be on her guard at all times. The way she trains with Madoc both in combat and strategizing is encouraging to see. The book also deals with dysfunctional familial ties. Madoc, the killer of their parents, takes in and raises Jude and Taryn as his own. Madoc’s second wife is also in the picture with their son. 

Now, for the Cruel Prince Cardan… Can we just take a pause and admit it that we are in the 21st Century first? The author has used the ‘I love you that is why I am mean to you’ trope to tie Cardan and Jude together. It was such a disappointment! I am all for ‘this is just fiction’ but the fact is that our reality is what it is. Can we not encourage this toxic behavior by romanticizing it? The author has shown some abuse in Cardan’s life which goes on to kind of help the readers understand why Cardan is the way he is. And I can understand that the abuse he has faced could make anyone a mean man and his jealousy of Jude’s relationship with Madoc is also acceptable. But his “Most of all, I hate you because I think of you. Often. It's disgusting, and I can't stop.” – And that is why I have been so mean and abusive to you is not something I can happily accept. Can we move on from boys will be boys stance already please?

To round up, aside from Cardan’s character, this book has a lot of entertainment in form of drama, politics and action to offer to its readers.

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