The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: A Dark and Enchanting Book, Reviewed

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: A Dark and Enchanting Book, Reviewed

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Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince is a captivating fantasy novel that takes readers on an unforgettable journey to the land of Faerie. Published in 2018, it quickly captured the attention of readers and critics alike with its rich world-building, complex characters, and intriguing plot. In this review, we will delve into the strengths and weaknesses of the book, explore its themes and literary devices, discuss its relevance in the author’s body of work, and evaluate its appeal to different audiences.


In The Cruel Prince, we follow the story of Jude Duarte, a mortal girl who becomes embroiled in the political intrigues and dangers of the Faerie realm. After witnessing the murder of her parents, Jude and her sisters are taken to live in the High Court of Faerie, where they face constant discrimination and threats from the fae. As Jude navigates the treacherous world she despises, she finds herself entangled in a deadly court rivalry and a web of secrets that could unravel everything she holds dear.

This novel explores themes of power, identity, loyalty, betrayal, and the blurred lines between good and evil. It delves into the complexities of human nature and challenges readers to question their own morality.



  • The world-building in The Cruel Prince is exceptional. Holly Black paints a vivid picture of the enchanting yet dangerous realm of Faerie, immersing readers in its magical landscapes and intricate court politics.
  • The characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional. Jude, the protagonist, is a compelling and resilient heroine who defies expectations and fights for her place in a world that constantly undermines her. The supporting characters also bring depth and complexity to the story, adding layers of intrigue and emotional depth.
  • Holly Black’s writing style is immersive and atmospheric. Her descriptions are vivid, and she skillfully balances action with introspection, creating a dynamic reading experience.


  • Some readers may find the pacing of the book to be slow at times, particularly in the first half. However, the slow build-up is necessary for the development of the complex political machinations and character relationships.
  • The romance subplot could have been further explored and developed to add more depth to the story.

Literary Devices:

Holly Black employs various literary devices to enhance the storytelling and immerse readers in the world of The Cruel Prince. The novel features strong imagery, vivid descriptions, and rich symbolism that adds depth and nuance to the narrative. The use of foreshadowing creates suspense and anticipation, while allusions to folklore and mythology enrich the world-building. Additionally, irony can be observed throughout the story, further highlighting the complexities of the characters and their motivations.


The Cruel Prince showcases Holly Black’s expertise in the fantasy genre and solidifies her position as one of the leading authors in the field. While this novel stands on its own, it also demonstrates thematic and stylistic connections to her other works, such as the critically acclaimed Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale series. Furthermore, the book explores themes of discrimination, power dynamics, and personal growth, making it relevant to broader social issues.


Target Audience:

The Cruel Prince appeals to both young adult and adult readers who enjoy immersive fantasy worlds, complex characters, and intricate political intrigue. Due to some mature themes and violence, it is recommended for readers aged 14 and above.


For fans of Holly Black’s work, The Cruel Prince will satisfy their craving for captivating storytelling, compelling characters, and enchanting world-building. It can be compared to other popular fantasy novels such as Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone.

Final Thoughts:

The Cruel Prince is a thrilling and immersive fantasy novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. From its intricate plot to its well-crafted characters, Holly Black delivers a captivating story that lingers in the hearts and minds of readers long after the final page. Whether you are a fan of fantasy or simply enjoy a well-written tale, The Cruel Prince is a must-read.

Possible Questions for a High School Test:

  • 1. Which genre does The Cruel Prince belong to? (a) Fantasy (b) Science fiction (c) Mystery (d) Romance
  • 2. Who is the main protagonist of the story? (a) Cardan (b) Jude (c) Taryn (d) Madoc
  • 3. What themes are explored in the book? (Answer should include at least two themes)


  • 1. (a) Fantasy
  • 2. (b) Jude
  • 3. Power dynamics, identity, loyalty, betrayal, morality


1. Goodreads – The Cruel Prince

2. Holly Black’s official website

Awards and Accolades:

– New York Times Bestseller

– Winner of the American Library Association’s William C. Morris Award

Functional Details:

  • ISBN: 9780316310338
  • Number of pages: 384
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • First publish date: January 2018
  • Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
  • BISAC Categories: Fiction / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy, Fiction / Coming of Age
  • Suggested Reading Age: 14+

Other Reviews:

1. “An enchanting and gripping tale that will leave you craving for more.” – Fantasy Book Review (★★★★★)

2. “Holly Black’s masterful storytelling will transport you to a world of treacherous beauty.” – Bookish Delights (★★★★☆)

Where to Buy the Book:

Purchase The Cruel Prince on

Is This Book Part of a Series?

No, The Cruel Prince is the first book in the Folk of the Air trilogy. The series continues with The Wicked King and concludes with Queen of Nothing. You can purchase the entire trilogy on

About the Author:

Holly Black is an acclaimed author known for her works in the fantasy genre. In addition to The Cruel Prince, she has penned numerous bestselling books, including the aforementioned Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale series. Her writing has garnered critical acclaim and won several awards, cementing her place as a leading voice in young adult fantasy literature.