The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 2.75/5 stars

With an abusive male crushing the main character’s spirit at every turn, The Cruel Prince definitely lived up to its title.

I am sad to say that The Cruel Prince didn’t meet the hype for me. From only a couple chapters in, I could point out its flaws and see the gaping gaps no one looked at fixing before publishing it.

Here are my main problems:

1. We have a set of very unlikeable characters. I’m all for morally corrupt characters as they’re interesting to read about, but man, this book’s characters had no redemptive qualities. This made it hard as a reader to connect or root for a character.

2. The word building was shabby. It did interest me, but wasn’t adequately depicted in some areas, whilst bombarding me with too much information in other areas – like its vast population of different faeries. Too many characters equates to a reader not being able to attach themselves to significant characters.

3. Jude as a main POV was questionable. She was constantly abused and made to feel inadequate, leading her down a dark path. She accepted scraps and I felt this wasn’t highlighted enough as a bad character arc.

4. Prince Cardan has to be the worst love interest to ever have been written. I honestly can’t believe Holly Black thought it was okay to write an arrogant, abusive and spoilt male lead and try and make him appealing. He’s disgusting. He sneers, humiliates and abuses Jude, making her question her worth. They eventually develop feelings and he feels shame in it as it’s against his better judgement. Ugh! The passage where he talks about wanting to hurt her over and over again is enough of a sign that this guy should be locked up.

5. It’d be wrong not to mention Locke. Almost as bad as a perpetrator, a bystander of abuse who somewhat revels in the occasional taunting deserves just as much flack as Cardan. Locke stood by as Jude was hurt and had the sheer audacity to romance her – which she sadly fell for. His character was mind boggling at best as he never really liked Jude, and I felt disgusted once again that he was made to look charming like Cardan.

6. The scene that undoubtedly shook me was when Jude was drugged with Faerie fruit. In real life, someone drugged by a group of people and made to do inappropriate things, and then to develop romantic feelings for their perpetrators, is seen as horrific. But in a fantasy world, no one cares or notices this.

Overall, despite my interest in the storyline, I was unhappy that the abuse was normalised and that as a reader, we were meant to find Jude’s and Cardan’s relationship reasonable. Abuse is never okay and unfortunately, this book left a sour taste in my mouth.


  1. acourtofcrownsandquills · April 25, 2018

    Your thoughts are totally valid! The bullying is a real trigger point; I just had to keep in mind that their whole world is just full of bad people. I think that’s why I’ve stayed away from faerie books in the past. They’re cruel and deceptive. The “drugged” fruit/food offered by faeries is also a common element in other faerie stories too. While I loved all the dark, political, and morally grey characters, I see all your points! Great review, hun xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheBookHaven · April 25, 2018

      It really was so different from other books. If the abuse was highlighted, I would have felt differently.
      I also think I might just not be a fan of Holly Black’s writing style. 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Winged Cynic · April 30, 2018

    “She accepted scraps and I felt this wasn’t highlighted enough as a bad character arc.” That’s a great point! I wasn’t sure how to pinpoint my thoughts on this one, but you put this very well. Terrific review! I find all of you points totally valid! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheBookHaven · April 30, 2018

      Thanks! I’ve never read a book like this one. Good political intrigue but the abuse needed to be highlighted in a more negative way. And I agree with you – there was romanticising of certain elements. It’s great to find another person with similar views. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Winged Cynic · April 30, 2018

        Yes! The abuse was taken for granted simply because Jude was mortal (and she just kinda took it), which annoyed me. And haha, same! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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