Reviewed in the United States on November 13, 2018
Am I the only one who saw all of the abuse in this and had to put it down?
SPOILERY REVIEW FOR THE FIRST 120 PAGES
Right off the bat, you have the main character's parents killed right in front of her because her mom's Fae ex was jealous. Surprisingly, Madoc was OK. I actually didn't mind him, but the idea of him being a Redcap kinda threw me because I'd always pictured Redcaps as some of the biggest, ugliest, and baddest faeries, not a slim, handsome Fae dude. Also Jude was...OK with him having killed her parents? . . . If Madoc hadn't killed her parents I'd probably like him, but the whole situation feels like Stockholm's or something.
Jude grows up in Faerie, from the age of seven to when this book picks up. She's trying her hardest to earn her place since her eldest sister is Fae and doesn't need to, and her twin is content being someone's wife. Jude wants a purpose. All of this, I like. The plot itself was actually kind of interesting due to the political tangle, Jude's strong will, and the Fae land as is.
Despite that, I could not, in good conscience, continue to read this after page 120. That sick, queasy feeling that almost makes you puke because of guilt or shame or something? Yeah, I had that. I felt like by reading this book, I was condoning the behavior of Cardan and the writing of Holly Black. No. Freaking. Thank you.
Cardan physically, emotionally, and mentally abuses her himself while also letting his little gang of brats do the same as well as sexually assault her and not stop her. The only one who even does ANYTHING is Locke, and yeah, I have issues with him too.
Page 95 starts the sexual assault. Faerie fruit makes humans listen to Fae suggestions as well as euphoric. What entails is Cardan's gang force feeds Jude fruit (because she is human and weak, and a woman, I might add), and Jude is suddenly tripping out. One of the guys literally forces Jude to eat this fruit. Oh, and did I mention that this is entirely during their class and NO one tries to stop them? Fake world or not, Holly Black is condoning people standing back and watching since NO ONE steps in.
Even though Cardan "acts" disturbed by the events, almost like the author is building it up for him to be a love interest, he still takes away the one thing that will knock Jude back to reality, and laughs. The other students laugh at this whole event. The gang begins to ask her who she wants to kiss, tells her to take off her clothes. Once Jude is in nothing but her underclothes, they want her to lick the fruit off their hands, Cardan wants her to grovel and kiss his feet, but Locke steps in and says he will take her home before her humiliation gets to be worse.
Page 22, Valerian publicly yanks on Jude's hair and makes fun of her lack of Fae-ness. shortly after, on the next two or three pages, simply because a boy would not move out of the way of Cardan and his entourage, Cardan rips off the boy's wings and the faeries laugh and go about their business. The boy sobs.
If this doesn't flat out show that bullying is OK if you're "important," then please feel free to tell me what it says. I know it's a fantasy world, but people sometimes read this stuff and don't see fantasy because of a million reasons, or they read this and it subliminally affects them.
Page 28, Cardan and gang walk past Jude and sister while at school, and kicks dirt into their food as he does. "I look up to see him watching me with cruel delight" (Cruel Prince, 22).
"Dirt. It's what you came from, mortal. It's what you'll return to soon enough. Take a bite." Nicasia, page 22.
Cardan threatens to force Jude to eat the dirty fruit after she snaps back at them. Nicasia pulls pins from Jude's hair and makes fun of her, claiming she stole it to true and look pretty and that she will never be beautiful.
Locke once again steps in to distract the group, but it doesn't help as Cardan tells Jude she must withdraw from the Summer Tournament that she wants to enter. Entering means she could earn her place in the Fae lands as a knight.
"Withdraw now, or wish that you had." Page 30.
Chapter 6 details the times other Faeries have assaulted Jude before Cardan and Co. started to. One bites off the tip of her finger, and one forced her to drink Faerie water and dance until she was freaking out (Faeries can make you dance until you die).
Chapter 7, in brief detail, Cardan and Co. throw Jude and her sister into a river where Nixies live. Nixies will eat humans. Both girls struggle with the currents, as they are wearing dresses, and Jude catches her sister.
"This is just a game, but sometimes we play too hard with our toys. And then they break."
"It's not like we drowned you ourselves."
Jude fights against the currents after the above two mentioned quotes were said, and manages to get back to Taryn on the rock.
Cardan's deal is thus to Taryn: he will let her out of the rive if she A) climbs up by herself out of the water, B) kiss Cardan on both cheeks, and C) never defend Jude. Jude tells Taryn to go, and Taryn flees and does all of that.
"Your sister abandoned you," says Cardan on page 51. he goes on to make threats about how he can do anything he likes to Jude and humans, but that he won't if she'll just give up.
When she says no, they leave Taryn and Jude, and Jude has to climb out of the water by herself.
Cardan continues to make threats such as "You're going to regret that" on page 66, upsetting Taryn before that, and says that he could get Taryn to have sex with him if he wanted to on page 74. He tells Jude to get down on her knees and beg for forgiveness from him.
Why do I bring all of this up, you may ask? Because of the subtle hints along the way that Cardan in a potential love interest for Jude. not only that, to make him more relatable, Jude is hiding in Cardan's eldest brother's house, and on pages 117 to 119, Jude watches Balekin brutally beat Cardan, as well as try to force Cardan to kill a human servant. Cardan refuses and leaves.
And suddenly Cardan becomes poor little Cardan who has been abused all his life, and the subtle shift that Jude, and we the readers, need to forgive him his actions. I'm not saying Jude is forced to or does forgive him, but what is with this trend in YA literature, especially stuff with faeries, that a love interest is always abusive? Horrifically so???
This. Needs. To. Stop. NOW!
I give this book 0 stars because I'm freaking fed up with this crap. We already live in a world where teenagers think that Joker and Harley Quinn are a dream relationship, can we PLEASE not continue feeding that mindset? Who cares if the person is hot if they will beat the living crap out of you or screw with your head and emotions so much that you feel like you are nothing in life. This is exactly why ACOTAR was such an awful series, and now we have the "new" ACOTAR series WITH THE EXACT SAME PROBLEMS. Just like how people idolize Rhys and Tamlin, people are going to like Cardan and say "he's not that bad."