I know I know, I am late to the party. This book has been raved and raved about since its release last year, and so has its sequel, The Wicked King. I always get wary around extremely hyped books, because I hate when they disappoint!
I’ve never read a Holly Black book before either, although I know she’s quite popular in her own right, and having collaborated with Cassandra Clare on some books in the Shadowhunter universe. So, going into this book, I did have some high expectations, even if I was against them .
Jude was seven 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.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal 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.
Well, what can I say. Praise the stars, I was not disappointed by this book, at all. It was practically everything I could want out of a YA fantasy novel – it had a well built world, political intrigue, developed, rounded characters and such an interesting plot that I both devoured this, and didn’t want it to end.
I will try my best to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but there is just so much I loved about this book, it has been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a book this much which is a really great feeling, especially as I haven’t really read all that much this year – not for me anyway.
I’m going to start with how much I adore Jude Duarte. It’s about time strong female character, doesn’t just mean a female who is some physically strong hero and somewhat of a badass. Yes Jude is somewhat of a badass, I won’t deny that. But she is not some cookie-cutter heroine that we’re rooting for constantly. She makes questionable decisions, she is the lead of this story and the catalyst, but she isn’t a heroine. She is selfish and impulsive and violent.
She isn’t clean cut and that’s what makes her so interesting to read from and makes her so appealing as a character to me. She’s a mortal girl in an immortal world trying to make her way and she’s not going to stick by the rule book to get there. She lies – because she’s human and she can – her way through the book and rarely does she apologise for being who she is.
And that is so refreshing.
It’s so rare to get a female character who in fact does not become a better person as the book goes on, but in fact can be considered as getting worse. Perhaps in the future books (I haven’t started The Wicked King yet), she does go on some self-reflective arc, but for now I am going to revel in the fact that she is not the heroine, but not the villain. She is somewhere in between and I love that.
“What could I become if I stopped worrying about death, about pain, about anything? If I stopped trying to belong? Instead of being afraid, I could become something to fear.”
Alot of Jude’s character is shaped by her relationship with her ‘father’ Madoc. Another morally grey character, except he is Fae, so this is what we expect. Madoc and Jude have this intense respect and affection for each other despite everything (I am trying my best not to spoil!) that is really absorbing, it plays out really well in the pages and I really love how complex their relationship is – how her feelings for Madoc impact her decisions and rationale. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it develops further in the sequel.
Another relationship I’m eager to see explored in The Wicked King (Which I definitely need to get my hands on soon!), is that of Jude and Cardan.
I feel Holly Black has only scratched the surface of this relationship and the many different facets of it. It really feels like we have only glimpsed the beginnings of Cardan – it is specific character development that I’m most excited for in the sequel!
Another excellent part of the novel was the world building – Holly Black really built a beautiful world for us to escape to. My favourite element was the wonderful lack of info-dumping. What sweet relief. Instead she just told us small amounts of important information when we needed it, helping us and letting us weave our own image of Elfshame. At no point did she go into extremely detailed descriptions of species or places, she let us put the world together ourselves.
Lastly, the books plot went at a good pace, building the political intrigue, putting all the devices together, building the foundations of what is to come in The Wicked King and The Queen of Nothing, keeping us interested enough in what is happening now and what is going to happen in the future.
#The truly might be my favourite read of the year, and it definitely is my favourite of the year so far! And I for one, cannot wait to see what happens next.
Have you read The Cruel Prince? What were your thoughts?