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

Posted January 31, 2018 by wildandw in Book Reviews / 3 Comments


The Cruel Prince
Title:  The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
Author:  Holly Black
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy
Publishing:  January 2, 2018 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Source:  Self-purchased finished copy from Amazon


“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”


MY RATING:  starstarstarstarhalf



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.


wildandwonderfulreads The Cruel Prince



As a general rule for myself, I don’t like to jump to immediate conclusions about a book when I first put it down.  Sometimes, emotions are running wild (because, you know, books have the ability to do that to people), and I feel it’s best to mull things over for a little in order to rein in my thoughts.  When I finished The Cruel Prince, I absolutely knew I would need time to think about what I just read because it honestly left me feeling too mixed.

The Cruel Prince, the first book in The Folk of the Air series, was my first experience with Holly Black.  “Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest.” (author website)

So, let me lay it out there for you guys so that I can review rather than rant about this book… I thought most things about The Cruel Prince were good but not great, I was incapable of connecting with the story and characters for various reasons, and I often found myself making a scrunching WTF/seriously?! face.  I am well aware that I’m in the minority with this.

Now that my basic negative feelings are out in the open, let’s proceed…

Holly Black has an astounding resume — have you seen some of the books she has written and co-authored???  Regardless, her writing in The Cruel Prince didn’t captivate me.  Her words and phrasing, however, did compel me enough to keep reading.  I LOVE a beautifully written book — mostly because I have precisely zero notable skills in writing — and at times, The Cruel Prince was strong and well composed.  At other times, though, there was also a lot of vagueness that contributed to my disconnect.

Can we all agree that fantasy books should be required to have a map?  I love book maps because world-building in fantasy is difficult.  An author is literally creating an imaginary world and we, as readers, are expected to be able to navigate it via their words.  I love the map in The Cruel Prince.  The description of the fae world from the characters’ perspectives?!  That left me wanting.  I did have a clear vision when it was described that someone looked out onto the human world; to me, it was reminiscent of someone standing on the Canadian coast looking across the Detroit River at the city of Detroit. *shaking my head*

If you’re a fan of fae, you should enjoy the fae culture that is entwined in the storyline.  Black is the queen of the fae, and she does them justice…in a dark and twisted way.  I commend her for that!

I have way too many thoughts on the characters we meet in The Cruel Prince.  I am going to narrow them down a little and give you these bullet-points:

  • Most, if not all, of the characters will probably be ones you’ll “love to hate.”  They are self-guided with their own agendas.  They are typical, self-indulgent fae, but there is a darker nature to a lot of them.  The synopsis and blurb don’t hide the fact that you’re going to be dealing with characters whose moral compasses don’t exactly point due North.
  • With the previous being said…there was a level of bullying in The Cruel Prince that I was not okay with.  I understand how fae act.  I have read other fae tales.  BUT, I just didn’t care for it.
  • Taryn! Blah! She can go!
  • Jude annoyed me to no end!  I feel like she was a HUGE reason why I was less than enthused with this book.
  • Who exactly is the cruel prince?  All of the princes are assholes, if you ask me!

The plot held a lot of potential and there were some solid moments, but it was mostly flat, for me.  The summary gives you a good idea of the storyline basics, so I won’t give a rundown.  The last 100 pages or so really picks up with the pacing and keeps you on the edge of your seat.  AND THE ENDING!

Overall, I found The Cruel Prince to be intriguing enough to give the next book a shot but disappointing enough that it won’t be anywhere near my top reads of the year, like a lot of people.  I simply didn’t get sucked in quite like others who have read it, so my review is far from raving.  I write my reviews to give my honest thoughts, and although I wasn’t a fan, I know others will be.  Fans of fae and YA fantasy will eat this book up, so I would recommend this to those readers — with the trigger warning for bullying.

Until next time… xo

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3 responses to “BOOK REVIEW: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

  1. Great review Kelly!
    I haven’t read The Cruel Prince yet but I am no longer looking forward to reading it like I once was. You and a few other people I trust have said it is not all that good, which is a shame because I wanted to love it. Oh well.

    • You very well may end up loving it! There was just too much I wasn’t a fan of for me to be enthused about it like so many others. I’m not giving up on the series, but I’ll approach the next book with more caution knowing how I felt about the first rather than having all the excitement I had leading up to this release.

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