I read Cruel Prince by Holly Black back in January and felt pretty ‘meh’ about it. Hence why it’s taken me three months to write up a full review. Since reading it, I’ve seen that the average rating has settled at 4.25 but I only gave it a super average 3 stars.
So possibly this review will be full of unpopular opinions?
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Holly Black’s writing. She built a magical world reminiscent of Celtic forests of yesteryear that were both lush and atmospheric (think Narnia). The writing was also a nice mixture of ‘other-world’ fae language and modern references that matched the plot nicely.
OUR MC JUDE
Our main character, Jude, was slightly problematic for me. I was totally behind her desire to prove herself to everyone in this world as they all seemed to push her away at every turn. But, she didn’t have a plan! We don’t get to see any political or strategic planning or basic training that usually works to deepen the readers understanding of the world and the characters relationship with it.
Also, I wasn’t a fan of her relationship with the other characters – but we’ll come on to that.
The relationship between the three sisters, Jude, Vivi, and Taryn, is super odd and cliche. I can’t help but feel that Black added these sisters just so that she could pit them against each other. Also, Vivi was oddly non-present, but she was a diverse character. However, her relationship with her girlfriend was so cliche and under-developed… good girl and bad ass girl – urgh, how obvious.
Where do we even start? Let me say, I’m really not against the common YA trope of the ‘bad boy who has a dark past that sort of redeems him’. (I mean my favourite book is ACOMAF). However, Carden is just SO cruel (no pun intended). He really does actively bully Jude and her sisters relentlessly throughout the whole novel. This made his love for Jude predictable. But this quick change from asshole to puppy dog was so underwhelming. Black made little to no effort to develop his obviously complex personality.
I felt disappointed by the romance because it did seem so far-fetched, as the bullying was never fully addressed. If I was Jude I would have punched him in the face and told him to piss off. Just me?
In my opinion, his behaviour was explained but not excused.