The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
I had never heard of Holly Black before, but now I understand why she's called the Faerie Queen.
As an Owlcrate subscriber, I received this exclusive copy in January, and absolutely loved it.
The main character and her sisters are very intriguing. There's Jude, and her twin sister Taryn, who are both human, and their older sister Vivi, who is half-fey. At a young age, their parents were murdered by Vivi's birth father, Madoc, their mother's husband from the world of Faerie. He takes all three children to his home in Faerie - Vivi out of right, and the twins out of honor, since they are his (late) wife's children.
Vivi, despite belonging more to the world of Faerie than the others, despises it, and her wish is to go back to the human world, living her life out there. Taryn and Jude were much younger when they were taken to Faerie, so despite being mortal and bullied by Faerie's inhabitants, they consider it their home. While their goals differ - Taryn wants to marry a fey and Jude wants to become a knight - they both wish to live their lives out in Faerie. While twins, Taryn and Jude tend to have differences that lead to conflict, and Vivi acts like a classic big sister to both.
It is these goals and interactions that drive the story and bring magic into The Cruel Prince. It is clear from the start that all three characters are discouraged from their goals, but it quickly becomes clear that these goals clash. Vivi doesn't only wish to live in the mortal world - she acknowledges that her sisters were stolen away from their home and don't belong in Faerie. She wants all of them to move. They have made trips to the mortal world, and Jude shows that while she is not a fey, misplacing her in Faerie, she was raised by fey and understands the customs and social interactions of fey. She does not, however, understand these things when it comes to humans. Sometimes it seems that they don't properly belong to either world.
And then there is Carden. Beautiful Carden. He is not only a Faerie prince - he is the most beautiful. And the cruelest. Enter the title character. He and his friends, or lackeys, attend the same lessons as the twins and make it a point to bully their mortal classmates. While Taryn is sometimes involved, the main conflict is between mortal Jude and fey prince Carden. The more she stands up to him and his power, the stronger the conflict becomes. Again, the characters drive the story and the magic, as a strange game of cat and mouse is played between them.
To top it off, Holly Black does a beautiful job in describing the world of Faerie. The Cruel Prince is not her first book to take place in this world of hers, either. It takes place in the same world as her Modern Faerie Tales series, which includes Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside.
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