A Cruel Spy and a Knight's Desire.
The Cruel Prince is written by acclaimed writer Holly Black, following the extravagant human life of Jude Duarte as she fights for a position of power and control in the land of Faerie where she is anything but welcome. The Folk fear her "father" but there is trouble to be found amongst the youngest prince and his friends. Will Jude succeed in gaining the respect she deserves or will she be forever imprisoned in her mortal shame?
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This review will be divided into five parts delving into the character building, world building, theme, plot and finally my conclusion and overall verdict. Please do not forget that every reader's experience is different and it does not mean that my views should be yours as well.
Now onto the fun part!
To start with, I believe the character building in this book was satisfying to say the least. It showed me different sides and different characters which, more often than not, gets forgotten in some novels. There are instances where some characters blend too easily together and their individual characteristics are lost in between individuality and getting along. That is not the case in this book. Each character was given a role and they played it extremely well, they rarely, if at all swayed from the characteristics introduced to them without losing the touch of growth every character needs.
The characters were uniquely written and each had some sort of journey they never lost sight of which, to me, is a breath of fresh air. Often enough, I see characters led astray from their ambitions and their general plot to become more likeable and to make them seem more pliable.
There were characters I hated, for instance, Valerian—he was a complete douchebag and deserved the death that came upon him. But I also felt hollow once he'd died, like Jude, I felt it went too wrong, too fast and there was nothing else to be done.
There were the characters that I'd felt wary of but was cheering on like Locke, I had my assumptions about him and Taryn but was loathe to admit it. On another note, I felt like Taryn seriously needed to get shaken up—but she was also incredibly misunderstood. People deal with traumatic situations differently and in this case, she just handled it extremely poorly, unlike Jude, however, she didn't have the chance or the plot to rebuild herself by becoming the hero of the story.
I also felt like the story (in the beginning) felt a lot like Meteor Garden or Boys Over Flowers where a group of guys (in this instance, one girl) bullies an outsider and one of then (in this instance, Locke) makes her fall in love with him through kindness. Unlike those stories however, Locke is a bastard and deserves to crawl into a ditch and rot.
Second—world building, I felt enthralled by Faerie. It reminded me too much of the Spiderwick Chronicles and all the magical creatures entailed in the field guide. I loved the mention of the different kinds of fey, the rootmen, the toads, even the way Faerie is situated closely with the human world. There were instances however that I was a little lost on how to imagine certain things but I suppose that might just be the differences between Faerie and the human world.
I did, however find the description and their trips to the human world slightly awkward. Like it was written from the perspective of a fey who dreams of visiting the human world but can't. Which, if you think about is either clever or poorly written. Either the author is too engrossed in Faerie or she simply did not bother to write too much into the human world.
Third—theme, the book revolved heavily around race, politics and, I suppose you could say character building. It focused primarily on Jude's desire to be respected in Faerie and to not be afraid of anyone while navigating the alleyway that is racism; in this case regarding fey vs. humans, in the end having resolved nothing permanently but Jude's hunger for power.
Fourth—plot, the plot of the story is filled of different surprises, little twists and some greater solutions to some alarming situations. I felt it was written smoothly, with the right timing, it hadn't felt rushed or too dragged on and it helped me understand Jude and the actions of those around her more.
Overall, the book was a fast-paced read. It delighted me to read something so close to stories I loved as a child while giving it an actual unique spin on itself. It's not the same cliché story where you'd know the outcome right away, or even if you found out, it isn't as tacky that you'd wish you hadn't read the book.
There are some parts that could have been improved, or made to be less surprising or forced but it's still too little to be given much notice.
I believe the book is perfect for fans of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Meteor Garden, strong leads, unconventional romance (and I mean unconventional romance as in it's barely even there) and a fun, fast paced story about fitting in.
Final Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟