Monday, July 22, 2019

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1), by Holly Black

Little, Brown for Young Readers, January 2018

When Jude and her twin sister, Taryn, were seven years old, a man showed up at the door to their home, and proceeded to kill their mother and father with a sword, and then order them and their nine-year-old sister Vivienne to pack their things and go with him.

The man's name is Madoc, and he was their mother's first husband. He's Vivi's real father. Oh, and he's a creature out of Faerie, specifically, a redcap. Madoc is the High King's general. And as a man of honor, he considers himself responsible for his wife's children--including the two who aren't his. They grow up in Faerie, and ten years later, the three sisters have each made their own adjustments.

Jude in particular wants to be a part of the Court, someone with her own place and her own power there. This isn't easy for a mere human, but she is determined, and because of this she becomes part of Court intrigues. It turns out she has a natural talent for espionage, theft, and plotting.

And she's not bad with a sword, either.

There are many twists and turns here, and Jude misjudges her own abilities about as often as her rivals and adversaries do. She learns, though. We think we know who the "cruel prince" is, and who are the less-nasty members of the Court are. Jude has her plans, Madoc has his, Taryn has hers. The High King has a plan for which of his children will be his heir. Jude and her classmates in the education given to the Gentry, including Prince Cardan, Locke, Valarian, and other younger members of the Court, are rivals and competitors as well as classmates.

And the High King is getting old and tired, and is about to step down, naming his heir.

Vivienne would rather return to the mortal world. Taryn wants to marry a Faerie lord, and be a part of the Court that way. The same way her mother was, but unlike Jude and Vivi, she's not thinking about how that ended.

Jude wants to be a knight. Prince Dain offers her a different job. The question is, is she tricky enough for it?

As I said, many twists and turns here, and it's a very good story. Recommended.

This a 2019 Lodestar Finalist. I borrowed in from my local library.

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