‘The Cruel Prince’ is book one in the ‘The Folk Of The Air Trilogy’ by Holly Black. This is a YA series based around faeries.
Jude and her two sisters, Taryn and Vivienne, have been living in the High Court of Faerie ever since they were stolen away after the deaths of their parents. The High Court is a cruel place to live for the immortal faeries, but for fragile humans it’s decidedly deadly. Especially as all the fae hate humans and will do anything to tease and taunt Jude and her sisters. But, as the story progresses, things start to get even more deadly for Jude in particular as she starts to find her own ability to be cruel.
I have a bit of a love affair with books to do with faeries, especially if the author uses old folktales in their work as Holly Black does. She puts in lots of elements like using rowan berries for protection which I very much appreciated. I don’t mind some of the more modern faeries-based books, but I do love the more old-fashioned ones.
This is mostly because the old faerie stories are so very dark, filled with dangerous creatures who are out to cause mischief and harm to unwary mortals. This book contains a good amount of that darkness so no Disney fairies in this book. Almost every character in this book has some kind of evil to them and no-one is completely good. In fact many characters are a darker shade of grey.
One thing I felt the book was missing was a list of the different groups of faerie and other creatures. I love to see this kind of bestiary at the back of a book and think it adds a little more information as a whole. I did like that there was a good amount of description of the people and places in the story, but just a little reminder of what kind of creature we were reading about would have helped my brain.
In my copy of this book, there are some beautiful line drawings at the beginning of each chapter which I really enjoyed. I also really enjoyed the use of Welsh or sometimes Wenglish words throughout this book. Living in Wales, this does make me happy to see that the words, myths and legends of this great country are being used in modern literature.
Overall, I did enjoy this book and will be going on to read more in the series, mostly to see what other predicaments Jude can get herself into. Given the situation she’s in at the end of the book I can only imagine the difficulties she’s going to have in the remaining books.
(pub: Hot Key Books, 2018. 370 page paperback, Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-471-40727-7)