A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Cruel Prince uses elements of Celtic folklore and mythology as inspiration for a tale of courtly intrigue. The plot raises questions about loyalty and family.
Family members should protect each other, even from magical threats.
Positive Role Models
A human girl living among treacherous near-immortals, Jude has to stand up for herself and her sisters when certain members of the fey unleash their cruelty upon them. She's brave and resourceful, but also stubborn and shortsighted in her quest for respect or retribution.
Violence & Scariness
The threat of violence permeates the plot, but it erupts mainly in a handful of key scenes. They involve knife- and swordplay, poisonings, and magical spells.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jude shares passionate embraces with two supporting characters.
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Swearing is infrequent in The Cruel Prince, mostly a few instances of "hell" and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcoholic beverages are served at fairy parties, and Jude overindulges one evening. Jude also drinks poisons to build an immunity to them.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Cruel Prince is the initial volume of a new fantasy series by Holly Black, author of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and many other books. Based on Celtic folklore, it presents an original new take on Faerie and its inhabitants, the fey. The threat of violence permeates the plot, which includes stabbings (fatal and otherwise), poisonings, and deadly magical spells. Swearing is infrequent, with a handful of "hell" and "damn." Sexual content is limited to some flirting and a handful of scenes featuring passionate kissing.
Is It Any Good?
Some stories downplay the ruthlessness of Faerie, but this action-packed, twisty tale of magical intrigue makes it clear that members of the fey can be ferociously deadly. The Cruel Prince quickly sets up the conflict between Jude and Cardan, and author Holly Black finds numerous ways to keep the narrative exciting and unpredictable. Readers may foresee that presence of a cliffhanger ending, but most will be caught off guard by other surprises scattered throughout the book. The dialogue is droll, the characters vibrant, and the action near-constant. Only the first volume of a new series, The Cruel Prince is already a solid winner.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.