I have been sorely lax with my reviews this spring (gee; I wonder why?) even though I have actually been reading up a STORM since May. The great thing about Bingo is that sense of competition (with myself) that inspires me to actually write up reviews.
So to be on-topic, I decided to start with the Fresh Start square and The Cruel Prince–the first in a series that has been on my Twitter feed for a while, a YA trilogy by Holly Black. I’d actually recently read some Sarah J. Maas books (reviews forthcoming) and wasn’t sure I was in the mood for more YA, but I had put this on hold ages ago (and could tell it was popular in my library by how long the wait was). And I quite enjoyed it!
The book centers around Jude, a normal human girl whose mother had been wed to a goblin from the Faerie realm but had run away with her half-Faerie child to marry again. The goblin, Madoc, finds her and kills her and her new husband, Jude’s father, and returns to the Faerie realm with his own daughter, Vivi–and with Jude and her twin sister Taryn in tow. Some years later, the story really starts: Jude and Taryn are sixteen and feel more at home in the Faerie realm than the human world. They throw themselves into trying to prove their worth to the Faerie folk, who constantly dismiss them. But when Jude gets into a protracted war with the youngest Faerie prince, Cardan, and his group of followers she ends up being drawn into the cruel politics of the Faerie realm.
This is definitely YA, but that’s not a bad thing. It is also, I feel it is important to say, not ‘YA’ like Maas. There is some kissing, some drinking, and some violence but nothing like the graphic sex scenes of Maas’ world (thankfully; I wasn’t in the mood for more at the time). I really enjoy fantasy that centres around the politics of some imaginary realm instead of some magical special savior of the world, and this book slaked that thirst (for now). Jude is likable and believable as a teen, with conflicts with family and at school, and her desire to prove that she is worthy also feels natural. I also quite enjoyed that the Faeries are more the cruel Fair Folk of Irish folklore than Maas’ Fae. Overall, it’s a little predictable in some places (in fact, I thought up some brilliant twists that the author did not, actually, employ–how rude!) but with plenty of surprises, especially in the last third of the book. The writing didn’t leave much of an impression on me, which usually means it is a) not badly written (no knees bark and no laughs are huffed in this one) and b) entertaining that I didn’t really notice! I read it in a few sittings and put a hold on the second one as soon as I was done. Looking forward to it!