I reread The Cruel Prince on a whim because I was out of audiobooks and it was available on Libby, so I thought to myself, “why not listen to one of my favorite 2018 reads?” Let me tell you, the audiobook did not disappoint. I felt just as enamored and entranced by the audiobook as I did when I read the physical book back in January.
This cruel (pun intended!) world of Elfhame is one that even though it sounds incredibly dangerous, I still want to live in and indulge myself on faerie fruit until I dance myself silly. This story captured me from page one and showed how brutal the faerie realm can be when Jude, Taryn, and Vivienne witness the murder of their mother and father by their mother’s ex faerie lover and are then taken by him back to Elfhame. Here they are taught the ways of the court and how to fight and defend themselves against the tyranny of Cardan Greenbriar and his band of cronies.
Jude finds herself swept up in the life of the court and becoming a spy for Dain Greenbriar when his chance at becoming the next High King is threatened by his scheming siblings. His Court of Shadows train and form a plan to protect Dain at his Coronation, but this is thrown into shambles when Dain is murdered before the crown could be placed on his head and Elfhame is then left without a High King. This results in the Unseelie Courts becoming restless and giving them 3 days to get the crown on a member of the royal bloodline or chaos will ensue across the lands.
There is so much scheming and plotting and twists and turns that even in my reread I was shocked at the ending. I never see it coming and love how it all plays out. The setup for The Wicked King is absolute perfection and I can say with 100% clarity that I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. This year wait has been nothing short of torture.
The world building in The Cruel Prince is done in such a way that we can see the beauty of Elfhame while also being able to see how dangerous it truly is, especially for a mortal. I love that we are shown this world without their being an info dump to explain it. There is a natural ease throughout the storyline giving us a glimpse into this terrifying world.
These characters though, SWOON! I still absolutely love Jude. I connect with her so well because she is sassy, sarcastic, tough, and wants no part of the mortal world now that she’s had a taste of that forbidden fruit. Honestly though, same. Her twin sister Taryn is still a bumbling idiot though. I haven’t read the novella The Lost Sisters yet, but I have heard that her idiocy is shown even more in that story. Taryn falls for Cardan’s crony Locke, who is a manipulative bastard that only wants to create a fun story for himself by pitting these sisters against one another. He feels absolutely no remorse over this and it makes me sick thinking about how common this problem actually is in our day and age. Gag.
Let’s talk about my favorite faerie with an adorable little tail, Cardan. What a babe. I mean, have you seen fan art of him? Because I could completely understand why Jude would want to stay in Elfhame if he was around. I get that he is made out to be a villain, and that he’s kind of a jackass in his methods of showing he cares for Jude by being a bully towards her. I’m kind of sick over the idea that people hate this book because of the way her treats her in the beginning. This is what kids do! Kids are mean to each other! I don’t see this book as a way to promote bullying, it’s just a representation of how the world actually is and it’s something that has never been able to be controlled.
Cardan is so ashamed of himself for even having feelings for this mortal, it’s quite adorable. He is such a cinnamon roll I can’t even contain my love for him. He reminds me of the Darkling from the Grishaverse, he’s so well written that even though he’s the villain (but honestly, he’s not, *someone* else definitely takes the cake in that department) I still see him as someone that is misunderstood and only wants to be loved.
I can give him that love. Let me love you Cardan.
This is such a fantastic book, I have 3 different editions of it and 3 editions pre-ordered for The Wicked King. I cannot wait to finally continue this series in January and then have to suffer for another year while we wait for The Queen of Nothing.