Monday, 9 April 2018

The Cruel Prince

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. 

DNF 70%

I was expecting to love this book. I really was. I’d head nothing but good things and was eagerly awaiting my copy weeks ahead of the delivery date. And I couldn’t finished it. I forced myself to keep reading despite putting in down countless times with no real desire to pick it up again until, finally, I gave up. Don’t get me wrong. The Cruel Prince is not a bad book (you only have to read the numerous glowing reviews to see that), but I found it an absolute crushing bore.

After being stolen from the human realm by her parent’s killer, Jude and her sisters grew up in the fairy realm under the roof of father-figure/parent-killer Madoc. Jude is desperate to be accepted by the fair folk, and when it becomes apparent that she never will be, she turns her attention to being better than them and winning a place as knight of the court. While all this plays out, she’s tormented by the titular cruel prince Carden and his gang of sidekicks. And this is my problem with the story. It’s juvenile in the extreme. Much of it revolves around Jude being cornered and bullied by Carden like a less satirical version of Mean Girls.

Seriously, this is pure high school drama. Sure, the fair folk’s magic gives these encounters a neat twist – like force-feeding Jude magical fruit that makes her incredibly suggestible – but this stuff felt a bit too cynically targeted at young people who go through severe bullying. Jude is presented to the reader as a capable, determined girl, but over and over again all I saw was a bitter, emotionally damaged girl who hates the popular kids while longing to be one. I didn’t connect with her at all, and so had little to no interest in her story.

On top of that, Jude's sort-of attraction to Carden was skin-crawlingly creepy. Hate-to-love is one thing, but portraying Carden as Jude's abuser, only to hint that she was attracted to him as a result, was beyond poor taste. I do not lie when I say these scenes genuinely left me feeling queasy. I was kind of confused as to why Jude was so comfortable living under Madoc's roof and protection too. She saw this guy murder her parents and she apparently harbours him no ill will beyond getting stroppy when he won't let her train to become a knight. She's about ready to kill Carden for cruel taunts, but apparently straight up murdering her parents before her eyes gets you nothing more than a side eye every once in a while.

I give this book two stars because it is incredibly imaginative and well-written. And if I was still in high school, maybe this book would resonate more with me, but I found the basis of the story to be in such poor taste that it soured the whole thing for me. Maybe the book picks up in the final act that makes the preceding 70% of Jude's suffering and misery worth it, but by that point I didn't care enough to find out.

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