Introducing the World of Faerie in Holly Black’s ‘The Cruel Prince’

Reading Time: 2 minutes
The Cruel Prince Cover, Image: Little, Brown and Company
The Cruel Prince Cover, Image: Little, Brown and Company

The Cruel Prince is book one of the new Folk of the Air series by Holly Black. I have really enjoyed Black’s Magisterium series of books (co-authored with The Mortal Instruments‘ Cassandra Clare and reviewed by GeekMom Dakster), so when it was announced that Holly Black was putting out a new young adult book series I was keen to give it a try.

In this series opener, 17-year-old Jude and her twin sister, Taryn, are mortals living in Faerie with the family of Faerie General Madoc, the murderer of Jude and Taryn’s parents back when they were only seven. Jude desperately wants to belong in Faerie despite many of the fey despising mortals, particularly the youngest son of the High King, Price Cardan, who delights in bullying and humiliating the two girls.

When the High King, Eldred, announces he is to abdicate, Jude is drawn into the political machinations of the High Court of Faerie as the High King’s children position themselves to be named as successor to the throne. Forced to make dangerous alliances, Jude must face deceptions, betrayal, and murder to save herself, her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Excerpt from The Cruel Prince, Image: Sophie Brown
Excerpt from The Cruel Prince, Image: Sophie Brown

Holly Black is well known as “The Queen of the Faeries” having written the popular Spiderwick Chronicles and the Tithe trilogy. She puts this previous writing experience to good use to create a vivid faerie world, held together by a dark twisting plot of court intrigue, secrets, romance, spying, and bloodshed. Jude is a human girl out of place: a vulnerable heroine who must overcome her fears to protect her family in the face of cruel and malicious treatment because she is a mortal.

The Cruel Prince is more of a slow burn thriller than a fast-paced action story, but the author structures her chapters well to leave you eager to find out how the reveals and cliffhangers play out. Fans of Holly Black’s previous writings will love this book and newcomers to Black who have an interest in faerie themes with a dark, malicious twist will find much to enjoy. I will be looking out for the second book in the Folk of the Air series, The Wicked King, when it is published in 2019.