Reviewed in Australia on 6 January 2018
It's a little slow to start, but THE CRUEL PRINCE is a fun read full of unlikeable characters, battles for power, spies, manipulations of promises, and treason. It's almost everything I would want in a novel to do with fey(/fae/fay/fair folk), and it's great.
I feel a little bad putting unlikeable characters as the first thing on the list of good things about this novel, but seriously it's a plus. Each of the characters are flawed, and while they may have their moments of kindness there's still the darkness of they fey underneath (or their own ambitions, or both). I loved almost all of them❤︎
Jude, her twin sister Taryn, and their older half-sister Vivi are taken to Faerie after their parents are murdered to live with Vivi's biological father Madoc. The book is told by Jude's point of view, and with that we get her opinions on the characters as well. Unlike her eldest sister she's determined to gain power in the world in spite of her tormenters and in order to make a place to belong. Taryn wants to fit in, and she'll do what she must in order to do so, while Vivi is adamant she's going back to the human world and she's going to live there with her girlfriend no matter what anyone says.
Also, because I don't believe this is a spoiler and because it made me smile, Vivi is referred to as bi and the word is actually used. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ I'm so happy~ a bi character being called bi instead of 'indecisive' or the like. Although, it is kind of implied that a lot of the fey are bisexual or have less scruples about gender than humans do in some cases, but I don't remember there being many more LGBT characters than Vivi and Heather and (possibly) a different couple later on in the book, though a joke is made about two male characters having a previous relationship, but it's brushed off in more of a 'no, it didn't happen' than an 'ew no we're both guys' kind of way.
Anyway, Prince Cardan and his friends are Jude's chief tormentors. The group reminded me a lot of F4 from the Japanese drama Hana Yori Dango/Boys Over Flowers if only because of the character types of Cardan (who reminded me of Domyouji) and Locke (who reminded me a lot of Rui) and their positions compared to Jude's, as well as the background of classes where a lot of their interactions took place in the beginning. Cardan is arrogant, childishly vindictive at times, and has a lot more to him than Jude expects. Locke, on the other hand, is easily bored with bullying and he seems less and less interested in the act of antagonising Jude and Taryn and more interested in Jude herself. Valerian is violent and of the group he's one of the more likely ones to start something with Jude. Nicasia is the daughter of a queen and her treatment of Jude only worsens once Locke starts taking an interest.
A major theme of the novel is that fey can not lie, but there's always a way around that. Wording is important in many novels to do with fey, and it's no different in this one. The morals of fey and their prejudice against mortals are shown time and time again throughout the novel, and it's fantastic. Their inhuman features are shown in more than just pointed ears and otherworldly beauty including different features of animals, different coloured blood, eyes of cats or goats or other creatures, lesser fey… they're all different and so clearly not human in comparison to Jude and Taryn. Fey actually looking like fey, I was so glad to see it❤︎
THE CRUEL PRINCE is slow to start, in fact it's less the romance and the incidents in Jude's classes that make it interesting, but the latter half with spies, political intrigue, and murder. Jude finds herself changing her perspective on a lot of characters, and finds herself plotting further than she originally thought she would. She comes to understand things a lot better because while she can lie, she has many moments where she's out of her depth and needs to learn and understand herself and the people around her more.
I adored the ending. I can't wait to see how things change in the next book especially after the chaos that everyone went through in this one. I want to see the deals and plots play out, and how much more will stray from what's been planned by the characters. I can't wait to see how things develop with Jude's relationships with the other characters as well, because while I had some misgivings for some of them I think they're definitely going to get even more interesting in the next one.