If you’ve not heard of The Cruel Prince by now then I don’t know where you’ve been. Released om early 2018, the latest series by Holly Black introduced us to Jude, a mortal living as a lady in the fae realm and Cardan, a faerie prince who wants her gone.
You read that right.
Jude and Cardan are the main couple in the series. Supposedly a hate to love relationship, what you actually get is, well, toxic. Cardan hated Jude for what she was and hated the fact he wanted her. She hated him for the way he treated it and uses the power she gets against him.
“What kind of insane revenge is there in exulting his in his revulsion? And worse, far worse, I like this. I like everything about kissing him – the familiar buzz of fear, the knowledge I am punishing him, the proof he wants me.”
Don’t get me wrong, I love hate/love relationships. But I liked something like mutual respect growing even as they still can’t stand parts of each other between the hate and love. This is just lust and control. That’s not romantic. It makes scenes like this sound like an assault.
Honestly, a lot of my problems with this book is that it’s YA. I still wouldn’t enjoy it if it had been written for adults but at least then the intended audience knows what they’re in for.
Teenagers, I don’t want to talk down to you. I remember being that age and reading smut. You’re growing up and figuring yourself and the world out. But adults shouldn’t be telling you that abuse is okay if they love you or if you get your own back. It just isn’t. And adults you can love and write books written for a younger audience but keep in mind that they aren’t written for people your age and watch what you romanticise.
It grosses me out that people say they love Cardan when his cruelty is in the title. There’s a whole page where he has scribbled Jude’s name obsessively:
“In some places he pressed the nib so angrily that the paper tore.
Jude, it reads, each hateful rendering of my name like a punch to the gut.”
This is obsession and rage. Pure and simple. This is how he showed his feelings for someone he is going to end up with and well, there’s this quote from the newly released The Wicked King:
Using a glamour on someone to get them to say they have feelings for you, even if you know they do or that they can fight it, that’s such manipulative magic.
That’s not to say everything is really bad.
When Cardan and Jude get along, there is some fun banter:
“I fixed him with a look. ‘I can be charming. I charmed you, didn’t I?’
He rolls his eyes. ‘Do not expect others to share my depraved tastes.'”
This is awesome and out of context, this is what I’d like to ship. If it had been more like this all the way through. There’s hating each other and moving past it and then there’s always being hateful. You can’t move past someone forcing you in the water with something dangerous and them and their friends telling you that you might drown without a care. It’s just…cruel.
If you like these books then, fine, that’s your choice. I’m not going to insult you for it but what I will say is be aware of how problematic these books actually are romance-wise. As long as you’re aware of that and warn people? Love them all you like.
But I’m never going to.