Book Review: The Cruel Prince (an unpopular opinion)

I feel like everyone and their mother is writing reviews for this book, so why not add one more to the mix.

This is the second time I’m trying to write this review. I tried earlier right after I read the book, and I found my thoughts were too jumbled and incoherent to form even proper sentences, much less thoughts.

I read this book because, honestly, everyone was talking about it. While I have not read this author, I heard her compared to Cassandra Clare, whose books I have enjoyed in the past (while not my favorite, the world in The Mortal Instruments series was very cool). I even featured this book in my Books I’m Excited For in January, 2018 post a couple months ago, because the story looked very interesting.

The plot follows Jude, who was stolen by a fairy when she was seven with her two sisters. Since then, she has been living at the dangerous Faerie court, where she attracts the ire of the youngest fairy prince, Cardan. Jude struggles to gain power in the court while trying to wade through the deadly environment.

Usually, I just talk about whatever aspects of the book stood out to me (good or bad), but because my thoughts are so jumbled about this book, I’m going to divide my review up into different aspects of the work. But, before I start, let me give a firm Spoiler Alert for anyone who has not read this and does not want to be spoiled.

Plot: I start with the plot because it is my favorite thing about this book. Not only could I never predict what twists and turns it would take, but the red herrings were everywhere. I was constantly trying to figure out all the characters’ motivations, without much success. I had no idea that Taryn (Jude’s twin sister) would betray Jude. I was shocked when literally all the royal family but two of the princes were slaughtered in one scene (Red Wedding much…more on that later).

The tension builds extremely well, as does the mystery.

The one and biggest complaint I had was that it made no sense that everyone just follows Jude’s plans later on. For example, the Court of Shadows (not exactly an original name, but I’ll get to that later) is comprised of spies and hardened killers, and yet after Prince Dain—the guy they work for—is killed, they turn to Jude, the newbie. It makes no sense, as does Cardan—the youngest prince himself—doing what she says.

I had to suspend disbelief way more than I should have when it came to Jude’s power. I just did not buy that she could defeat men who were much bigger and stronger than her (whether it was Valerian–awesome name, btw—or Cardan) especially since they all had magic.

And the ending was even more far-fetched. I was just not buying that a seventeen-year-old, and not a genius at that, could trick the most powerful men in the High Court of Faerie. It seemed absurd at best. However, the ending didn’t ruin the plot for me, as I still argue it has a complex, well-thought out plot.

World: I confess that I don’t read a whole lot of fantasy novels, but I do enjoy them on occasion. And one of my favorite things about reading this genre is the fantasy worlds.

But this one left a little to be desired.

The fantasy world really seemed to be merely a backdrop for the plot and power struggles. Besides the use of glamour (the fairies’ magic which made humans do what they told them too) and people constantly calling Jude a mortal, there seemed little use for magic.

Everything is in vague, unoriginal terms. The Court of Shadows. High Court of Faerie. Glamour. None of the names for anything in the world showed much creativity. The magic isn’t clearly defined either. Fairies literally seem the same as humans except they can do magic. They aren’t stronger, smarter, or anything else.

I’m not saying the world was bad, I could think it wasn’t extremely complex. Like I said at the beginning of this section, it felt as if the fanciful part of the world took a backseat to the plot. This story could have been set in a medieval setting of court of drama without losing any of the plot.

Characters: All the characters were very interesting. A lot of the background characters didn’t have much personality (like most of the king’s family and the members of the Court of Shadows). However, since they were really background to the plot, I didn’t mind it.

Jude was an incredibly complex character. She was interesting and well-developed. Saying that, I can’t say I really liked her, mostly since she put her own goals and plans ahead of what was the right thing to do. She didn’t feel bad about murdering people, or lying. Her bad actions never had a consequence either, which didn’t seem realistic to me. She gets Sophie, a human girl, killed, and then it’s never mentioned for the rest of the book.

While I will say she was a good character, she wasn’t a good person. If you don’t mind that, you’ll like her character. I just prefer protagonists who strive for good.

Cardan is one of the few characters I was disappointed in. When he was introduced, I could tell immediately he was going to be deeper than his initial introduction as “the cruel prince.” However, I felt the more we learned about him, the more pathetic he became. His motivations were never clear. I guessed that he’d developed feelings for Jude (I don’t know why, though, looking at her), but he seemed to have no depth of awareness or desires outside of that. His character almost changed with what Jude needed at any point in the story. It was frustrating, because he was introduced as the most interesting character.

I could go through my thoughts on all the main characters, but we’d be here all day and I’m sure neither you nor I want that. I will say all the characters were interesting, but like Jude, there were none that I could say I really liked.

My point is that every character in this book was a horrible human being. At least Game of Thrones has Jon Snow and Tyrion.

It reminded me of…

This book reminded me of two things. The first and most obvious is a simpler, shorter Game of Thrones. Everyone dies! Well, most people do. There is even a Red Wedding where the king, his son, his daughter, his mistress, and possibly a couple more people die. Just like Game of Thrones, this is the type of book that I can appreciate for its interesting plot, but I can’t really enjoy. It’s just too depressing.

The second thing it reminded me of (and bear with me) is a Japanese manga by the name of Hana Yori Dango (translated Boys Over Flowers). If you’ve never heard of it or its multiple live-actions, I recommend it. As a teen, I loved it. It follows a teen girl who goes to a rich school where four boys rule, bullying anyone for amusement. The girl stands up to them, catches the attention of the main boy, and he bullying her, only to end up falling for her. The first hundred pages were so close to this plot I couldn’t help but laugh. Of course, later on it deviated, but Cardan kept reminding me of a less-likable Domiyouji!

Final Thoughts:

It is a well-written book, it just isn’t my type of book. I like books were good triumphs over evil (Lord of the Rings) or at least where good is striving against evil. It’s one of my biggest criticisms of Game of Thrones. It’s a good book; there’s just no goodness in there.

In real life, there is both good and bad. Sometimes bad wins, and sometimes good wins. However, not everyone is a horrible, manipulative, cruel person, just as everyone doesn’t need to choose to do evil to fulfill their goals.

For that reason, I will leave my opinion to be lost in the sea of voices praising this book. However, I personally will not be checking out its sequels.

Have you read this book? If so, what are your thoughts about it? If not, would you be interested in reading it? Let me know down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

22 thoughts on “Book Review: The Cruel Prince (an unpopular opinion)

  1. I too have enjoyed Boys Over Flowers before picking this book up. I’m not yet finished with it but I had to know if I wasn’t crazy! I’m so glad you compared it to that. That’s all I’ve been getting so far.

    It doesn’t bug me so much right this minute but it makes me wonder if Holly Black has heard of the Manga or Korean & Japanese tv show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The later part of the book deviates a lot, but the beginning is so close I couldn’t help but compare it to BOF. I’m not sure if Holly Black is familiar with it, but it would be cool to ask her! I hope you enjoy the ending more than I did! I’m glad I’m not the only person who noticed the comparison.


    2. I’ve just started reading and watching boys over Flowers and I’ve read half of the Cruel Prince so I didn’t read the spoilers but I was like oh my gosh! This is like boys over Flowers I’m just wondering if holly Black has seen the shows or read the books too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was wondering that too! It’s so similar, at least in the beginning, that I was sure Holly Black at least took some inspiration from Boys Over Flowers. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed similarities.


    1. I wouldn’t, but others have loved it. I think it depends on what kind of reader you are and what you look for in a book. I gave my opinion in this review, but that opinion doesn’t necessarily invalidate those who praise this book.


    1. I think it’s all about a matter of opinion. Some people (most people) might love this book, and I respect that. I’m just not the type of person to give a review just to be nice. Instead, I want to share my own honest opinions. I’m glad you enjoyed reading my review!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review as always. I’m not a reader of fantasy and I’ve decided to skip this book altogether ever since many readers started to hype it up.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s quite okay . At least you read it and got over it rather than buying it later on. I’ve been there many times and I am certain I’ll be buying hyped books soon. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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