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The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Booktalk: “The Cruel Prince”

Junior Gabriella Navarro reviews Holly Blacks The Cruel Prince. She loves how the author broke literary norms and fantasy stereotypes.
photo by Faith Walsh
Junior Gabriella Navarro reviews Holly Black’s “The Cruel Prince.” She loves how the author broke literary norms and fantasy stereotypes.

“The Cruel Prince” is the first book in “The Folk of the Air” series by Holly Black. It revolves around a mortal girl named Jude who lives in the Faerie world. She was seven when her parents were murdered in front of her and stolen away to live in the High Court. Ten years later, Jude is trying to win a place at the Court, learning skills of trickery, deception and bloodshed along the way.

The book has a little bit of everything that not only makes it enjoyable for everyone but keeps it distinct. Politics? Check. Interesting family dynamics? Check. Morally gray characters? A gripping plot? A hate-to-love slowburn romance? Check, check, check.

I am always a little nervous when starting a new fantasy series because I don’t want to compare it too much to other series I’ve read and be disappointed. However, this book goes beyond comparisons, breaking literary norms with its unique storyline and intoxicating line up of characters. Holly Black is not afraid of bringing out the dark lore of the fae, breaking their daisies and rainbows stereotypes. When the introduction gave me a rhyming fairytale poem by Robert Graves, I knew that the author loves the fantasy world she built upon.

I thought I was supposed to be good and follow the rules. But I am done with being weak. I am done with being good. I think I am going to be someone else.

— Jude Duarte, The Cruel Prince

I love how Jude is actually morally gray. She’s power hungry and willing to do whatever it takes to prove herself to the world that hates her kind. She’s driven by her need to fit in and break everyone’s weak expectations of her. It makes her likable that she has to work her way up the totem pole. I also like how she’s incredibly smart but still has her foolish moments, showing that she isn’t perfect. 

There were no moments in this book that I felt were out of place or were dragging. Also, the descriptions of the weird world were marvelous. You can quickly grasp what every creature looks like, which helps the story flow so much better.

If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.

— Jude Duarte, The Cruel Prince

Jude and Cardan’s budding relationship is the pinnacle of the hate-to-love trope, and I am here for it. There is so much tension between the two, and I like that their relationship never pretends to be healthy. Cardan is an entitled jerk and treats Jude in a way that is far from okay. But Jude also manipulates Cardan for her own personal gain. I can’t wait to see how their relationship develops in the next two books and I honestly hope we see more romance with them.

Lastly, the power shifts, amount of scheming, lying and betrayal are all balanced amazingly. Holly Black knows how to create multiple plot twists without them getting repetitive or predictable. 

Overall, “The Cruel Prince”—even though it was recommended to me a thousand times— snuck up on me and worked its way up to one of my favorite fantasy books.

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About the Contributor
Gabriella Navarro
Gabriella Navarro, Features Editor
Gabriella Navarro is a junior at Hagerty High School, and this is her first year on staff. She enjoys reading, hanging out with her friends, and listening to Taylor Swift.
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