Cruel Prince (The Folk of Air #1)
By Holly Black
Publication Date: January 2018
Jude, her twin sister, and her older sister with the pointy ears were living a normal human life when a strange green man comes to their house and kills their parents. He then takes them off to live in Faery land to raise them as his kids. Cut to ten years later when we see Jude as a human who has fully assimilated into faery land but not all the Folk are thrilled with humans.
Jude and her sister are mercilessly bullied by a prince of the High King and his friends. Although Jude is afraid most of the time, she doesn’t show her fear she just continuously repeats advice from others in her head. Jude’s sister, Taryn, is the more affable twin who doesn’t want to cause trouble. While Jude longs to be a knight in the King’s court, Taryn just wants to get married and have a simple life. Jude unrealistically endures the bullying by returning to school the day after they tried to kill her for a second time and never has an inner monologue about her trepidation. All the Faeries are hot including Locke, the bully with a heart of gold. Jude witnesses Locke’s small acts of kindness and figures that it’s okay to date him even though he continues to associate with people who are trying to kill them ALL THE F***ING TIME.
Jude’s stepfather is the general in the King’s army and he’s taught his daughters the art of strategy but you would never know that seeing how Jude can’t even seem to strategically retaliate against her bullies but she’s some how smart enough to develop and execute the final plan.
As you can see I had issues with this book and I know I’m in the minority here. There were a lot of little things that bothered me. Jude’s uneven characterization was one of the little things. She also does something really out of character that pissed me off but I’ll save that in my spoiler rant section.
I had a problem with Black’s writing style in regards to character development. The motives of the bullies bothered me and once again, I’ll expound in my spoiler rant section.
Taryn could have been a great ying to Jude’s yang. In the beginning, it seemed like Taryn was Jude’s be-careful-voice but Black did not expand this theme and instead Taryn’s actions/motives were weak. The main villain, I’m assuming is the cruel prince, was a stereotype that I figured out within the first two encounters. We’ve all read him a million times and there’s nothing different/new added to his character.
Black did a couple of things that I hate in books. #1. I hate when a character suddenly gets an epiphany and figures it all out on their own. Jude does this THE ENTIRE NOVEL. She just reads something a couple of times and she’s figured it all out. #2. I don’t like it when authors don’t write organically but instead the writing is forced. For example, Jude is a spy and she just happens to pick the correct room and happens finds the piece of evidence that just happens to be the key to the entire plot (which by the way there was no plot but I’ll get to that later). Jude happens to casually pick up a piece of jewelry that just happens to be the answer to everything. I understand that events have to drive the plot but it should be part of the storytelling. I shouldn’t be able to see it coming.
The entire book seemed forced. The bullying, the world building, the Game of Thrones type development, the battle among identical twins, the trying to fit in. The bullying really bothered me and I wouldn’t call it bullying; I’d call it torture. It was gratuitous and they continuously repeated their motives as they were torturing her-you’re human and you’re mortal and you’re weak. OK, I GET IT. Black seemed to be going for the muggle vs. wizard thing but she didn’t do it well. Lastly, this book had no plot. I will drop a book one star if there’s no plot. This was basically a 0.5 book. It was all back story and the real story begins in the next book which I will not be reading. There were other little things that bothered me but I’ll save it for the spoiler rant.
This book tried too hard. I like a fun fluffy fantasy with gratuitous villains and villains with a heart of gold and far out story lines-Falling Kingdoms is a good example. I also enjoy a fantasy with multiple themes, consistent and strong character development, a forbidden romance, a great war-Winner’s Kiss Series is a good example. Cruel Prince tried to be a serious fantasy but Jude and the supporting cast wasn’t strong enough.