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The Cruel Prince.

Black, Holly

The Cruel Prince

Hot Key Books, 2018, pp400, [pounds sterling]7.99 978 1 4714 0727 7

The Wicked King

Hot Key Books, 2019, pp336, [pounds sterling]12.99 978 1 4714 0803 8

When their parents are killed before their eyes, twin sisters Jude and Taryn and older sister Vivienne are stolen from the mortal world by the faerie general who despite having just murdered their mother and father brings them up as his own daughters together with his infant son. The Cruel Prince begins ten years later as the girls now in their teens strive to fit in and be accepted in the glittering and hostile faerie realm of Elfhame, which they do with varying degrees of success. It is a strange home but it is really the only home they have ever known.

We see this struggle to belong from Jude's viewpoint, her ambition is to have status and be a knight in the High Court which is unheard of for a mortal. Their elder sister has returned to the human world, but the twins still go to school. They now endure daily clashes during lessons with the disdainful beautiful young fey of the inner court including the malicious and self-centred Prince Cardan who especially enjoys tormenting Jude.

There is an obvious dynamic undercurrent of dark attraction between Jude and Cardan which develops throughout the story. Without giving too much away Jude strikes a bargain with Cardan to protect the futures of those she loves. In a dramatic turn of events driven by a scheming Jude and her allies, Cardan becomes king and she becomes the power behind the throne for a year and one day. But it makes for an uneasy alliance, as part of the oath she can command the new king to do her bidding but must consider carefully the repercussions that may stem from this.

The Wicked Kingbegins five months later. The love/hate relationship between Jude and Cardan continues to simmer whilst to her surprise Cardan makes a better king than expected. Jude now has the momentous task of trying to keep hold of her power over the king and the kingdom whilst unseen danger lurks everywhere. As events build and the plot twists and turns unmasking more intrigues, plots and betrayals there is a sense that something has to give, and it does. By the climactic ending Jude is left facing an uncertain future in exile.

The author has succeeded in building a world which is infused with such descriptive depth that the reader is totally immersed in the narrative that runs through both books in this series. It is not just a dark romance between a mortal girl drawn to a faerie prince, but also about the nature of power, the importance of family ties, taking opportunities and risks and paying the price. Jude has many strengths and flaws and so is very endearingly human. It will be interesting to see what her comeback plans for revenge are when the story continues in the final book in the Folk of the Air trilogy: The Queen of Nothing.

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Title Annotation:12-16 Fiction
Author:Polchow, Sue
Publication:School Librarian
Article Type:Young adult review
Date:Jun 22, 2019
Previous Article:The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods.
Next Article:The Stolen Ones.

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