My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Banner credit to: Reading Sumpton
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE BOOK:
I listened to this story via audiobook. I found it much faster paced than book 2, which I enjoyed. Many reviewers said that the pacing of this finale were a downfall for the delivery, however I felt the same sentiment in book 2 when it dragged on… so it’s a personal view! This book contained more action, less political scheming, and more confrontations (with emotions oOOooOh). Within 5 minutes of this book, I was hooked, and it reminded me on why I love the world and the characters. It was a fantastic wrap-up for the series. Saying that, when I first devoured The Cruel Prince, I was expecting something darker and more one-on-one between Jude and Cardan (like in ACOMAF, where plenty of the book is just the two sorting through things together). SO my hopes and anticipation from my imagination on where the plot would go were not met, but the series still created a beautiful realm of Faerie that I loved. I’m not waiting for Black and Clare to make a faerie romance novel together. Bring on all the sassy gals and sassy boys!
Jude: I loved watching Jude grow throughout this series. This book showed her growing to understand what it means to love — and that it’s not control. She truly learnt the age old value: ‘if you love something, let it go’. And let goes, she does. To everyone and everything. Of course, she is not alone though! Book 2, I found her in way too much solitaire, so I’m so happy (for her sake) that the love/s came back to her. It was heartening. I loved her realising that her folly to not be a fool had led to her demise. She was a fool, to not realise Cardan’s words. Such easy words to understand and manipulate too. TO BE FAIR: If I was so humiliated and on the spot like Jude was (in an ambush matter, with the court laughing at her!!!!!), I wouldn’t be in the right headspace either.
Cardan: He’s the reason there’s a snake on the cover!!! Ahhh! I was not expecting that— I thought Jude would have been the reason for that. ANYWAYS, Cardan is a bit quiet in this book. Not as many quippish lines, but I loved him all the same. Reading his letters (thanks, Tumblr, for uploading them), I immediately forgave Cardan for what he did at the end of Book 2. I’m so glad he and Jude confronted their feelings; their individual pasts; and their desires for the future. Cardan represented a lot of modern day values, which is interesting, as I would never have picked that when I started reading Book 1. I didn’t think choice, autonomy or democracy would be a message that Holly Black would push in the trilogy. But it was great to see! Who doesn’t love a humble king?
Taryn: I still would like her to suffer. She really did not go through any pain in this series at all. WHERE IS MY JUSTICE? I liked that she (view spoiler)
Vivi: Oh my goshhhh. I loved that she didn’t ever try to steal the spotlight from Madoc or Jude. She was the best supportive sister ever. My favourite thing about Vivi, though, is her relationship to Heather. Book 2 showed that they have QUITE the misunderstanding and squabble, and end up ‘on a break’. But due to the upheaval of Jude and Madoc in this finale, both Heather and Vivi come back to Faerie. They resume being a couple, but on one condition: Vivi erases Heather’s memory once they are back. But both secretly don’t want that to happen: they just want to be together again. OH, STUPID DORKS. ADORABLE LITTLE DAISIES. I LOVE THEM.
Oak: I strongly feel like there is 0 justice for Oak, whatsoever. The ENTIRE BOOK, he voices that he doesn’t want to be High King (not now, not ever). So wtf was that ending?!?!?!? I’m projecting a bit here, I know— but he likes pineapple (and everything else under the sun) on his pizza. He’s a gem.
Madoc: Best antagonist ever. The true dark side of the moon; if Jude is the bright side. He’s unrelenting and caring and infuriating. I’m disappointed that (view spoiler), but I’m not sure I’d feel at peace with this story if he had. SO… idk what to do with Madoc. What would’ve been better?
Grimmermald (IDK HOW TO SPELL HER NAME BUT SCARY WITCH GRANDMA): she reminds me so much of the Thirteen witches from Queen of Shadows (SJM). She’s a cannibal but somehow has a loving, proud grandma nature to her?????? I wish she was in all of the books, I love her to bits (or chunks… of faerie and un-faerie meat! :P)
The plot is extremely fast paced, so bear with me: (view spoiler)
The first 25% is like a five dream. There’s lots of blood and battles (with just Jude vs 1 other person; not epic militia battles). Then it’s snake time. Then it’s scheming time. And then it’s ice cream wedding cake time, yay.
– Duty vs Loyalty
– Love and Control
– Honour vs Foolishness
“‘This is my room,’ he points out, affronted. ‘And that’s my wife.’
‘So you keep telling everyone,’ the Bomb says.”
“I feel like a constellation of wounds, held together with string and stubbornness.”
“‘And yet my heart is buried with you in the strange soil of the mortal world, as it was drowned with you in the cold waters of the undersea. It was yours before I could ever admit it, and yours it shall ever remain.’”
“Maybe it isn’t the worst thing to want to be loved, even if you’re not. Even if it hurts. Maybe being human isn’t always being weak.
Maybe it was the shame that was the problem.”
HEA, yay! Honestly, I wanted more scenes of Cardan x Jude ruling the palace. Instead, we got stupid happy family ice cream cake celebrations -___- (my annoyance is sarcastic, but I did want more of the King and Queen).
As I said at the beginning, this series did not go down the path I thought it would. I thought the books may follow more of Jude and Cardan being evil to each other in their classes, and then they get married, but hate each other, but realise after a lot of angst that they love each other. Was it that? Sorta. But it was not touching on the YA themes and settings I expected, which I am eager to see in another author’s faerie story (I’m sure plenty will be coming out after the success of this series). I did not expect family loyalty vs duty to be such a big issue! I liked it a lot and it was executed very well. I will reread book 1 and 3, but I will avoid book 2 at all costs (it’s sluggish and boring, oop). I love all the friends and Booktubers I’ve discovered online thanks to this series. THANK YOU, BLACK! Cassie was the only one that had given me a glimpse into the Seelie and Unseelie politics, and I’m glad it’s been fleshed out in such a wonderful series. My favourite Fae world though, will always be ACOTAR’s.