The Cruel Prince by Holly Black Book Review


Rating: 2 out of 5.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Content Warning: Bullying/Harassment


This book was okay. I’m enjoying the world of it all and love the concept of fae living in-between the lands of humans. That’s a really neat concept. Hell, the whole fae world is interesting. But it ultimately falls flat to me because who cares. I sure as hell don’t.


  • A map!
  • Interesting world


  •  Flat characters
  • Odd plot points
  • Plot starts halfway through the book
Shifting Isles of Elfhame map (Cruel Prince)



Quite frankly, I didn’t like the plot. I thought it was odd and kept asking myself “who cares?” It felt like Jude was forcing herself into something she really didn’t need to. Like who cares if her “dad” takes the crown for his son? Yeah, he might have more of a militaristic take on things, but still. Jude didn’t have to wiggle her way into things. 

And what was the whole thing with wanting to join the military? Yeah we know she really wants to join, but we don’t see her ambition, we don’t see her train for anything; we’re just told this is her thing. And then after the tournament is over, that’s it? No other mention of it even though they won? The tournament only seemed like a plot point for Cardan to bully Jude and introduce Locke as a love interest.

Also, what is the romance plot? Falling for your bully? I was very unsettled by this because it’s not healthy. I’m all for an enemies to lovers romance, but not when the love interest is a literal bully and asshole.



I don’t see how people like Jude. She wasn’t badass or strong or cunning, she was just annoying. Her motives were questionable and she had no depth besides rage, which is lame. It was like she was trying too hard to defy her “dad” and to be different, and none of it worked in her favor. 


Boy, oh boy, does Cardan fit the title of this book. He is a cruel prince and I hate him with a firey passion. I cannot stand bullies. He wasn’t interesting, even with his tragic backstory, he was straight up evil and I could give two shits about him.

Side Characters

While I hate Jude, I hate Taryn even more. Who the hell abandons their sister like that? Who leaves her alone to let the cruel prince bully her and potentially kill her? I know I’d be fighting tooth and nail to protect my sister, but that might just be the big sis mode activating. 

The rest of the characters are okay at best. They’re pretty static and don’t add too much to the plot for me.


The writing was simple and a little juvenile, which fits the YA sub-genre. So, I can’t complain there. But the plot and characters that were set up would have better suited the NA sub-genre. This way Black could have dove into the violence and sexual nature of the book.


I didn’t straight up hate the book, but I didn’t like it either. I’m at an odd middle ground to where I want to read the second one. Maybe it’ll get better and have more of a romance/plot. Regardless, I couldn’t get invested in the characters or what was going on. Cardan was awful, Jude was annoying– well most characters were annoying, and the only thing keeping me going was the thin hope something good would happen. 

Anyways, I’ll read the second book because I’m intrigued enough to find out what happens next.

What did you think of the book? Do you have anything to add, good or bad? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Facebook Page  |  Goodreads TBR  |  Spicy Rating Scale | Holly Black’s Website 

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