The Cruel Prince
**** 4 out of 5 stars
Jude Duarte’s life is turned upside down when a mysterious man enters her house, kills both of her parents and abducts her, her twin sister Taryn and their older sister Vivienne to a kingdom of Elfhame in Faerie Realm. As it turned out, their mother was his wife, and Vivi was his daughter and heir. Getting used to her new life, Jude understands that living among Faerie can be in equal measures, splendid and horrible. As a human, she will always be weaker and vulnerable to manipulation. To fulfil her dreams of knighthood, she has to be faster, try harder, learn the strategy and be prepared for anything.
The novel starts quite weird. It seems to be a fantasy school drama with a recluse protagonist, a love interest and a group of mean students. It seemed to follow a pattern for a schematic teen TV drama for a while. Until it did not. I am not sure when my perception of it changed. Maybe when the mean students push their game too far or when Jude becomes reckless, or when the dynamics between the royal family members are detailed. At some point, the pace picked up, plot twists accumulated, and a new and more exciting love interest was revealed. The intricacy of the political intrigue reached the level I would never expect in a Young Adult novel.
My opinion of this book changed while reading. Something that began unpromisingly became a captivating lecture. It has a lot of action, political intrigues, plot twists, a fascinating location, and a strong heroine. What else would you expect from a YA fantasy novel?