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

4/5 star rating ****

Premise- (3.5/5) I’ve read Holly Black before and had mixed feelings, particularly about her faerie books. I liked The Darkest Part of the Forest quite a bit, but didn’t finish Tithe, partly because I didn’t have time, but also because I didn’t like it that much from the beginning. But I was willing to give it another go, because like I said, I’ve really liked some of her stuff. The premise sounded interesting, although I was honestly already dreading a Carden-Jude love story. But more on that later.

Characters- (5/5) The characters were really fascinating in this book. Jude, her relationship with Faerie, with her sisters, with Madoc, and just her overall character was really intriguing. Very complicated, but that was a really good thing. In particular, I liked her relationship with Madoc, her adopted father, who was a really interesting character all on his own. Her sisters were very different, but not in a “I’m so different and one of us is better and because of that” way, which was refreshing. I think there was room for more character development for Taryn, but maybe we’ll see that in later books. Vivienne was the opposite of the typical mortal-longing-for-faerieworld you usually see in these books, which I loved. The royal family was full of complicated dynamics, which I appreciated, and other supporting characters like Oriana and Oak were well developed.

Plot- (4/5) I loved the politics of the plot–so many twists and turns! And the climax was particularly exciting, taking an unexpected direction and really holding my attention. However, the plot is losing one star for the romance plotlines, which I didn’t feel were well done. Jude’s relationship with Locke was one thing, but ultimately, there was a relationship of sorts between Jude and Carden. Now, it’s hardly a love at first sight, pure, uncomplicated love type relationship. It’s full of spite and bitterness, which is interesting but I’m really nervous it’s going to turn into a true love-esque relationship and I’m not interested in that! Also, that would create a problematic relationship considering the way they treat each other. So great politics, not so great romance.

World- (5/5) This is a really unique take on faeries. It uses tons of familiar faerie lore, salt, iron, magic, even the different types of faeries. But we get to see it from a really different perspective, a mortal who has grown up there and has a complicated relationship with both the place and the beings that live there. I really, really enjoyed that, and thought it was very unique.

Writing- (3.5/5) Some of the writing was a bit overdone in terms of angst and humor, but overall, it was good. Lots of beautiful descriptions without being excessively flowery, and if the humor was trying a little too hard here and there, it usually hit its mark.

Overall- (4.2/5) If you’re fascinated by faeries, definitely check this one out. Though the romance didn’t cut it for me, that was not the main focus of the book, and the other plots were very strongly written. Excellent worldbuilding, complicated characters (and character relationships), and strong writing. I will definitely be looking for the sequel once it releases!

Trigger Warnings: suicide, abuse, murder, gore, use of drug-like substances on nonconsensual parties


Mallory Fitzpatrick is a senior at John Carroll University, who loves reading, writing, and travel. 
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