Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Teen Tuesday and review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. Folk of Air series #1. Unabridged digital recording (online resource). Twelve hours, 37 minutes. Read by Caitlin Kelly. Blackstone Audio, January, 2018. 9781549140082. (Review from e-audiobook borrowed from public library.)

When I received an arc of this at a Little Brown Preview, I was super-excited because I adore Holly Black. When she signed my arc, she did caution me that it really wasn't for middle school when I shared that I work in a middle school. So, I kept putting off reading it. Then the stars started rolling out. Then I found it on audio, which is the way I tend read most fantasy and older YA.

Wow! Consider my socks officially knocked off!

To summarize, after a third-person preface, this is narrated by seventeen-year-old Jude Duarte. In the preface, we learn that when Jude and her twin sister were seven, their home was invaded by Madoc, their older sister, Vivian's fae father. Madoc has learned that the body that was burned with his house was not that of his wife and her unborn child and, after viciously murdering his wife and Jude's father as revenge, kidnaps the three girls and returns to Elfhame.

Fast forward ten years and the POV switches to first-person, present tense. Jude Duarte is a compelling narrator. She hates Madoc but loves Elfhame. She trains hard towards her goal of becoming a knight in the king's court. This will give her a measure of power in a land where she is an outsider and despised - especially by Cardon, the king's youngest son who is a bully.

The world-building is vivid. Black immerses the reader into a fully-formed Faerieland, peopled with fascinating, vicious characters. The story is sumptuous and intriguing, always surprising. There is not one wasted word nor misplaced character. The suspense ratcheted up unbearably before taking me totally by surprise, leaving me breathless and panting for the next installment.

The Cruel Prince is not to be missed - especially if you are a fan of faerie stories. While Ms. Black's advice that the story is not for the typical middle school reader, I have mature eighth grade readers who are huge fantasy fans who would love this. (I also have an eighth grade only section in my library.) And while I am sad that I did not get to read the arc before publication, not doing so shortens the length of time I have to wait for the next installment, The Wicked King, due out January 8, 2019! Behold the beautiful cover:

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