SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: When your introduction to the fair folk is the gruesome death of your parents by a fearsome fae General named Madoc, your life is going to be turned upside down. Jude, Taryn and their half sister Vivienne were abducted by the above General and raised by him in the High Court of Fairie. Jude and Taryn were full human and each handled their humanity in this magical world differently. Taryn by lying low, dreaming of some day belonging, and Jude by fighting for the right to rise in their ranks as a warrior. All while her nemesis, Prince Cardan, is constantly trying to demean her and beat her down. This is a fantasy filled with intrigue, romance, and betrayal.
Written from Jude’s perspective, the fae court seems filled with beauty and danger. However, Jude’s view is slightly tainted because of her humanity. In this fantasy novel there doesn’t seem to be much good in these fae folk their faces filled with snears, boredom, and yes beauty. Until the tides change and her nemesis Cardan becomes her partner against a palace coup. It’s only after this partnership formed (or so I thought!) that both of their characters showed depth. Jude, finally caring what happens beyond her own needs, and Cardan develops a small hint of humanity in his cold fae heart. Even though late in the book, that depth gave this novel a lift out of the darkness of both of their despair and gave me hope that their characters could be redeemed and I would come to care for one of them, even if only slightly.
The Cruel Prince is certainly aptly named as Cardan is the villain to Jude’s rather grim heroine. The title could just as aptly been named the Cruel Human as both characters showed more dark than light in their characterizations. Even when Jude is given a love interest, there seemed to be something lacking in the telling of that love. The outcome of that romance ending in a pivotal scene that should’ve delivered more impact but because of Jude’s romantic ambivalence towards Locke that scene fell short. The same ambivalence could be said of her relationship with her sister Taryn. I just never felt like Jude cared for anything or anyone beyond how life and those people impacted herself. If she had cared more about her actions impacting her sister’s happiness, then maybe the failure of that relationship would also have delivered a knockout punch. For me, it really didn’t.
SO, I started the book with high hopes, knowing that so many loved this story and fantasy is my favorite genre, after all. The outcome for me? Ho-hum. I wish I had connected with Jude more. There was something lacking in her character that kept me from going all in. What the novel did do right was portray my vision of Fairie really well, where beauty and cruelty hold hands. The vivid scene where Cardan rips a wing off one of the minor fae is cruel in his disinterest. I wasn’t quite THAT disinterested as I read the novel all the way through, but I was a little ambivalent.
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“the writing was very well done. The main character’s voice is engaging and full of personality. I adored the descriptions, the humour and its quotability…. The only real downside for me was that I wasn’t head over heels for the romance (even if I liked both parties). I mean, it made sense and was logical- I didn’t quite feel the fireworks. Other than that, I thought it was an excellent read.” The Orang-utan Librarian
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