Review: The Cruel Prince, Holly Black

There are no spoilers in this review.

The Cruel Prince, Holly Black

Publishing on January 2d, 2018 by Hot Key Books.

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.





  • The Cruel Prince has its fair share of hype and I understand why. It really is a fascinating story. There’s something about the writing, about the world the author creates, the very atmosphere of the book that couldn’t help but make me feel intrigued, right from the very beginning.
  • Jude was one heck of a morally gray, complex character. She has this thirst to be recognized, as a mortal in this fairy world, she has this thirst for power and accomplishment, of proving herself and it shows. Her determination was fascinating to read about and, even if, at times, I have to admit I didn’t love love her, I found her character SO refreshing to read about.
  • The sisters and family vibes were interesting to follow, too. I liked how they were three sisters in this story, each of them with their own goals and motives and dreams. Sisters! In a fantasy story! I need more of these.
  • The twists and turns were everything in this book and, basically, what made this from an okay read to a book I might get the sequel to read, too. I mean…. if it took me a while to get into the story, the twists and turns and revelations and THAT ENDING had me feeling things and wanting, craving to know what would happen next. The schemes and the messed up revelations just kept me on edge in the last half of the book and I loved that.



  • I think my main issue with The Cruel Prince, was the time it took me to get really invested into the story. I feel like, if the world was certainly well done and fascinating, the story took a bit of time to really kick off and, it took me even more time to actually feel invested in it all.
  • I wish the sisters’ relationships were a tiny bit more explored, because there was so much potential to it all, and… I felt a little frustrated, especially about Vivi, the oldest sister, hating the fey world and it all.
  • I just feel like the romantic relationships rubbed me the wrong way – all of them. Given how it all started, I just couldn’t quite root for the main relationship, the one everyone is waiting for and shipping, as much as I would have liked. For now.



 Despite the uneven pacing and time it took me to really get invested into the story, The Cruel Prince managed to capture my attention in the second half of it all. Its morally gray, complex characters and twists and turns certainly made me curious about the sequel. I’m a little bit of a black sheep for not adoring this book as much as everyone else, but I still recommend it to any fantasy and faerie books fan!

Final rating:  3,5 drops!

Trigger warnings: abuse -physical and emotional, graphic violence, suicide, blood & graphic blood scenes, coercion.

Did you read The Cruel Prince? Do you want to?

Should I read the rest of the series? Let me know in comments!





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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

37 thoughts on “Review: The Cruel Prince, Holly Black

  1. I tend to stay away from overly hyped books, but I must admit I am intrigued by this series. I love morally grey characters and a book that can surprise me with its twists and turns. It’s a shame that the sisterly relationships wasn’t explored as much, but it sounds like the book has a lot of potential.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved The Cruel Prince – I thought the world was magical and I was captivated by the story and Jude from the first page. Sadly, the rest of the series was somewhat disappointing to me. 😦 I 1000% agree about the ship – I just never got on board with it, not even later in the series, although my reasons for that changed somewhat. Who knows, it might still grow on you, though! I’m happy you enjoyed this even if you didn’t find it perfect! Great review! 🙂

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    1. Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear the rest of the series was a little disappointing for you! I’ve been curious about continuing, but not in a rush either, I guess I should lower my expectations ahah 🙂
      Thank you!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahh, Marie, I really feel you on everything you said in this review! Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me. There’s a chance I’ll get around to the rest of the books in the series, but they aren’t priority reads for me and honestly I’m not quite sure I’m invested enough in the characters or the outcome to try and find them. I did enjoy the overall reading experience, though, and I really liked the sister relationships! This was a great review. ❤

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  4. I feel like some of your negatives will be resolved with the whole series! Especially exploring the sister relationships. But AH I love this series and I’m totally obsessed with it 😍 morally-grey and antiheroes are forever what captivates me in books!

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  5. Hey, you spelled “grey” wrong 😉 I read a few reviews of this book last year, and it’s been on my TBR ever since!! From what I remember, those reviews raved about how much they loved The Cruel Prince, so I’ll get to go into it with a balanced view! xx

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    1. Oh thank you for letting me know 🙂 I thought you could spell it both grey and gray (depending on whether you’re speaking “british” english or more “american” english, from what I’ve learned in class but I may be wrong!) thank you for letting me know 🙂
      I hope you’ll enjoy the book more than I did 🙂

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  6. Marie at the endo fo the first one I liked the book but I was not convinced by Cardan. I recall writing that he had much potential and that we had not seen everything yet and …I was right! I hope you’ll give the sequel a chance as it gets better!

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  7. ALL OF THE ABOVE! I was gifted Cruel Prince, otherwise I wouldn’t have read it. I’m, admittedly, not a huge Holly Black fan, but I decided to give it a go, and I was so over this book about 75 pages in. I ended up giving it three stars, I think? And I was so happy to be done so I could just call it a day. The romance really bothered me. I didn’t understand the hype around Cardan at all. But there is something in it that dug its hooks in, and whether it was the twists and turns like you’ve said (probably), I found myself buying Wicked King, and I’ve got to say–WOW. What a complete 360 for me. Wicked King is definitely one of my favorite books from this year, and I’m so happy I gave it a chance past this beginning.

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    1. Ahh I’m just so happy you can relate to my review, I felt a little alone haha. There’s something that just pulls you into the story, even if I wasn’t a fan of Cardan at all, I wanted to know what would happen next anyway.
      Ahh I’m so happy to hear this. I’m curious to continue the series and hope I’ll feel the same way as you!! 🙂

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  8. I am definitely a black sheep with this one! I actively disliked it- or rather felt a bit bored by it. Fine, super bored. THEN I heard that the second book was beyond awesome, even by people who didn’t love book one, so I was interested again. THEN I heard from those same people that the finale was a bit of a letdown so I’m back on Team Quitter. The atmosphere WAS great, I agree, and I wanted to read it to see what happened especially from the sister perspective, but. I’m sure I can find spoilers 😂 (P.S. you can absolutely spell gray either way.)

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    1. it seems like a rollercoaster of a series then, wow 😂 😂 I have to say, I’m curious about what will happen next, but also scared that I won’t be head over heels with it like everyone else. I think I might wait a while and decide to pick it up later, if it’s still on my mind 😂
      (and thank you! I wasn’t certain of it, thank you so much!! ❤ <3)


  9. I have read it, and really, really enjoyed it! Mostly because of Jude, I just really liked her character. I think it also took me a while to get into it, tho … I’ve read the wicked king and also enjoyed it, but I’ve read mixed reviews of the queen of nothing and I don’t know what to expect :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh I’m happy you enjoyed it! I have to say that Jude was a very interesting character, I really liked that about her,she felt different from the other typical ya fantasy characters 🙂
      Oh I get that, I’ve heard mixed reviews about both sequels so i’m a bit nervous. maybe waiting it out a bit might help you get decided whether or not you still want to read that ending? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great review, Marie! I felt the same way about this book and rated it 3.5 stars as well! The atmosphere and story in general are lovely, and Holly Black certainly has a talent for writing. I just wished the relationships between the sisters were explored in greater detail than they were, and I wasn’t a fan of any of the romantic pairings either. I wound up enjoying the Wicked King much more though! I hope you love that one if/when you read it! ❤

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