After months upon months of ignoring new releases, and trying to stay away from the hype, I finally gave in and picked up The Cruel Prince. Okay, more accurately, it actually popped up on my library loan list and I went "Oh, that's right! I put myself on the waitlist for this!", and then proceeded to devour it. I knew I wanted to read this from the moment that I saw Holly Black's name across the cover. If anyone knows Fae, it's Holly Black. I had high hopes for this one and, I'm glad to report, I wasn't disappointed in the least!
First off, true to form, Holly Black expertly drags the reader into the darkly glittering world of the Fae. A world where things are both beautiful and terrible. A world where humans definitely are at a disadvantage, and where they are so enchanted by it all that they don't even seem to care. What I've always liked about Black's fairy world is that it isn't always a kind a one. It's one where there is suffering, war, and hatred. It's one where beautiful beings have sharp edges and sharper knives. It's the kind of world that you love to read about, but would be terrified to visit. In other words, it's my kind of setting.
Even more impressive is the fact that every single character who graces these pages is perfectly rendered, and multi-faceted. I was stunned by how easily I fell into step with Jude. Her inability to conform, despite the fact that it would have been the easiest thing to do, made me fall in love with her character. Jude is strong as steel, and equally as intelligent. The stark contrast between her, as a protected human in a fairy world, and Vivi, as an unwilling fairy in a fairy world, was perfection. I ate up their sisterly bond, swooned over the descriptions of balls and battles, and couldn't stop myself from hating the same people that Jude found herself hating. I think what made me fall for Jude the hardest was that she was never afraid to admit that she was wrong. She was human to the core, and beautiful because of it.
Truthfully, even the plot the blew me away. It was perfectly paced, and set up in a way that I never saw the next move coming until right when Jude did. Black weaves a gorgeous web on court intrigue, filled with backstabbing and death. Even when I was absolutely sure that I knew where things were headed next, I was wrong. It was wonderful. I love a plot that keeps me on my toes. As for the ending, well, I knew going in that this was the first in a series. So I'll say that the ending is good for a first book, and satisfying enough. You'll see, after all, that I did give this a full five star rating.
If you're looking for viciously lovely Fae, more court intrigue than you can shake a stick at, and a book that will keep you reading well into the night, this is for you.