The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Right, no idea where to start with this. Ive read a few Holly Black books, shes a well loved author in the YA community. So far she hasnt been for me so when i saw this book being released early last year i didnt bother picking it up. The hype took over though and it was pretty cheap for kindle so i picked it up.
The story follows Jude, a mortal girl whose mother and father are murdered (literally happens on the first page, not a spoiler!) she is then taken by her parents murderer Madoc to the fairy world. Jude finds out that Madoc is her older sisters real father so they live with and are raised by him along with her twin sister Taryn.
The fairy world is ruled by a king who is coming to the end of his reign and will be passing the throne to one of his children. One of his youngest children is Prince Cardan who is 'the cruel prince'. Cardan goes to school lessons with both Jude and Taryn and he tortues them for being mortals as he thinks they are not equal to the fey people.
As the story progresses there are many twists and turns as we follow Jude try to navigate her way through fairy land as shes constantly viewed upon as weak, shes bullied and has to watch over her shoulder the entire story as she cant trust any of the fey people. Many characters try to kill her as they view it as fun. Throughout all this torture Jude longs to be one of them, she wants to be respected and loved within this society. Jude is amidst a difficult relationship with her siblings, her older sister Vivi refuses to let go to her links to the mortal world even though she is half fey and everything that Judes wants and Taryn is so content to keep her head down and not bother the fey even when they kick dirt into their lunch and berate them constantly she believes its better to ignore them. Jude is unable to do so as she is strong willed and wishes to fight back against Cardan and his troupe.
The fairy world and books about fairies has never been something that ive been into. I tried so hard to get into The Iron Fey series but couldnt :( but this was different, it was a very dark take on a YA fairy story and the characters are written to be unlikable which is so unusual that it really added to the overall effect. I really enjoyed the politics behind the story, the writing was very lyrical and the descriptions were spot on. As a reader you really root for Jude as she is so badass but you also enjoy the love to hate relationship with Cardan, i hated him so much. I enjoyed Judes narrative of loving Madoc but also hating him for ruining her life, it was interesting watching her internal struggle with despising the world so much but also doing anything possible to fit in.
i really disliked Taryn as a character as she was so weak compared to Jude and she didnt stand by her sister at all. I thought the writing was quite clever in the fact that she faced the same internal struggles as Jude but she dealt with it in the complete opposite way to Jude. She was more than happy to put her head down and get on with it. She wants to fall in love and marry a fey boy whereas Jude wants to become a knight and yield and sword and learn more about strategy and defence. The sibling rivalry was written so well and was so believable.
The plot was fantastic, the fey are so unpredictable and it was so hard to predict what Cardan would do next. Jude is so strong willed and admirable as a character but shes also a hot mess who has no idea what shes doing the majority of the time. Her struggles with decision making was so interesting to read about and she really does make some poor choices at times. The plot is jammed back with the political side of the fey world and who will be the next king which was really interesting throughout. I loved the fact that the next in line to the throne wasnt the eldest as is traditional in these types of stories and also throughout history. That made it slightly easier to have my own theories of how it would be. I did figure it out as the second book just came out before i read this and i could figure out the ending from the title of the second and last book in this duology but oh well.
I will be reading the second book for sure!