"The Cruel Prince"

When considering whether or not I should review a book, I read the first couple of chapters to see if it is something I am willing to devote time to reading and writing about. When I sat down and started “The Cruel Prince,” I had a difficult time putting it down.

“The Cruel Prince,” by Holly Black is intriguing and complicated, and if it were a nighttime soap, viewers would be on the edges of their seats looking forward to the next episode. Consisting of two parts, Book One introduces the story’s complex, intertwined characters and a chain of events that lead to an action-packed Book Two, which is full of twists and turns that shock and excite.

Faerie is a land full of imps, pixies, hobs, goblins, and many other fairytale creatures; however, there are also humans. In Faerie, humans are considered low in status. They are often controlled by faeries, essentially treated as servants and slaves.

The ruler of Faerie is King Eldred. Because he is getting older, it is time for him to give up his throne. While he has many children, he must choose one of his three eldest, Balekin, Dain, or Elowyn to take his place.

Twin sisters Jude and Taryn are 17-year old humans living in Faerie. Their mother, a human, had been married to Madoc, a general in Prince Dain’s circle. She ran off with another human and had the girls. Madoc eventually tracked them down, killed both parents, and took Jude and Taryn back to Faerie with him. He and his new wife Oriana, a faery, raised them as if they were their own children. Two other children, Oak and Vivi, also are part of the family.

Jude and Taryn are treated like Faerie children. They participate in the same lessons and go to soirees or parties. One of King Eldred’s sons, Carden, does not like the fact that the girls are treated like faeries instead of humans. Carden bullies the girls with help from others.

With a tournament scheduled, Jude competes, with Madoc’s approval. After seeing Jude fight in the tournament, Prince Dain asks her to become his spy. She accepts, and in making a deal with Dain, she can no longer be controlled by any faerie other than Dain himself. As the Coronation nears, Dain sends Jude to spy on his brother Balekin to see if she can get some information on him.

What does Jude learn? How do past events and hidden secrets affect the future of Faerie? What happens at the Coronation? Who will become king? What challenges will stand in the way? Just when you think you know what is going on, you realize you don’t.

To find out the answers to all of these questions, dig into “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black.