Off the Beaten Shelf

News & Reviews from the
York County Public Library

View All Posts

Jul 20

Teens Review: The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King

Posted on July 20, 2021 at 12:00 AM by Elizabeth Land

Teen Reviews both The Cruel Prince and the Wicked King by Holly Black Teens & Tweens Review is an opportunity for York County Public Library teens and tweens to write book reviews for their peers. 

Title: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Reviewed by: Olivia B., 10th grade
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Cruel Prince book coverThe Cruel Prince is an alluring story mixed with dozens of all-consuming plot twists that will leave you dying to find out what happens next, and I loved every second of it. Here’s a basic rundown of the story: Jude and Taryn are (human) twin sisters, and Vivi is their older sister. Early on in the book you learn that Vivi’s real father is Madoc, a faerie war general. While the sisters are young, Madoc comes to reclaim Vivi from the human world, and ends up having to take Jude and Taryn with them back to Faerie to live with him and all the other faeries. The rest of the book is from Jude’s perspective in Faerie while she is 17.

Holly Black does a marvelous job of world building and describing the intricate world of Faerie. Somehow, she does an even better job of creating the characters. Jude, the cunning, sword wielding, unyielding heroine who never goes down without a fight, which often annoys her twin sister Taryn. Taryn, unlike Jude, is more submissive in a world where mortals are seen as inferior to the faeries. There is also Cardan, the cruel prince of Faerie, and his faerie friends who hate mortals, especially Jude, with a burning passion. The Cruel Prince is beautifully written, and there are many lines that I found myself rereading multiple times just because they were so clever and well written. Lines like “I stand in front of my window and imagine myself a fearless knight, imagine myself a witch who hid her heart in her finger and then chopped her finger off.”, and “If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”, describe Jude flawlessly. The Cruel Prince is “a dark jewel of a book” according to bestselling author Leigh Bardugo, and I completely agree. This book is full of riddles, unpredictable plot twists, intricate schemes, and magnificent language, and I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of any of those things. If you are looking to get into the fantasy genre then I think this book is an excellent start!

Title: The Wicked King by Holly Black
Reviewed by: Olivia B., 10th grade
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Wicked King Book CoverThe Wicked King successfully consumed my whole life while I was reading it, it has continued to consume my life even though I have finished it, and it will most definitely consume my life for the foreseeable future. Holly Black has made me fall in love with this world she has so beautifully created, and it physically pains me to know that it is fictional. If you thought The Cruel Prince was good, I know you’re going to love the sequel: The Wicked King. This book was one of the most entertaining, fast paced, and intriguing books I have read in a while. Jude, our clever heroine, is back at it again with her mind-blowing schemes and has managed to pull off what should have been the impossible. She has successfully manipulated Cardan into being the king of Elfhame, despite his wishes, and also bound him to her, making herself (a mortal girl who is hated by most of the faerie population) the real power behind the throne. The Wicked King follows Jude while she singlehandedly rules Elfhame. Without the help of the actual king, things are even more difficult, but Jude, as always, is resilient and determined, and she stays strong through all the hardships (and there are a lot of hardships).

If you somehow aren’t already in love with Jude, then she will definitely win you over in this book. She is put under the stress of ruling the country, discovering a loved one has betrayed her, and dealing with her own fickle emotions. All the while she beats the odds and powers through some gruesome experiences. She also has to deal with Cardan, who turns out to not be so wicked after all. Just like The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King is full of crazy plot twists, complex schemes, faerie riddles, and beautiful language. “Yes, my sweet villain, my darling god… Sweet Jude. You are my dearest punishment” really sums up how beautifully written this book is, in my opinion. I feel this book is an essential read for anyone who is a fan of the YA fantasy genre, so go read it right now!!

YCPL Readalikes

  • All the Stars and Teeth book coverAll the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
    As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it's never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy's dangerous soul magic. When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he'll help her prove she's fit to rule, if she'll help him reclaim his stolen magic. But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she'll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected—or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from stories, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin, a High Lord of the faeries. As her feelings toward him transform from hostility to a firey passion, the threats against the faerie lands grow. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose Tamlin forever.
  • The Queen's Assassin by Melissa De la Cruz
    The Queen's Assassin is forced to take on a mysterious apprentice on his most dangerous mission yet, pulling them both into a vicious web of secrets and lies.

If you're interested in earning volunteer hours and writing a review of a book you've read, contact the Tabb Library youth services at 757-890-5110 or