I am suffering a book hangover. The only relief is the promise of two more books in this trilogy. The Cruel Prince is the best Holly Black novel yet. This is no small statement. Black has impressed me with her immense talent from the very first. When I read Tithe, I realized YA didn’t mean kid stuff. While I pre-ordered The Cruel Prince nine months before it published and even though I purchased it as an e-book, print, and audible book so that all the Black fans in my family could enjoy it, I wasn’t prepared for the brilliance of this book. I could discuss various aspects of this novel for hours. At some point, I will listen to the audiobook just to savor the rich language.
The premise of the book is three sisters grow up in the land of faerie; the half-faerie sister wants to return to the human world, one sister wants to assimilate, and the heroine wants to triumph over the faeries. The story begins with the murder of the girls’ parents in the human world by a faerie.
As with all Black novels, the characters are complex, multi-faceted characters with flaws. For example, Jude, the protagonist, is a liar and her greatest desire is to become a killer. There is nothing cliché about her portrayal of the characters. The character development in this novel defies expectations.
This novel is a fantasy novel, but Black writes intelligently about real-world situations, including a love-hate relationship with an abusive family member and classroom bullying. The plot is intricate with twists and turns. Black takes the reader on a journey with no known destination.
The world building is phenomenal. It is a sensory delight as Black engages all the senses with her vivid, vibrant descriptions of the faerie world. The reader can imagine the taste of faerie fruit, the feel, and texture of an outfit composed of velvet and owl feather, and the pain of a knife plunged into a hand. Then there are the denizens of faerie, the horned, mischevious little boy, the green-skinned sprite with black eyes, and the hooved prince to describe a few. With these details, the reader is immersed in the world of faerie.
Due to her beautiful use of language, I tend to read Black novels much more slowly than other novels. But this book ended too soon. I wanted more. It is early in the year, but this may be the best book I read in 2018. I highly recommend it.