The Folk of the Air trilogy was a Christmas gift from my sister back in 2021. I can’t believe I waited almost a whole year to read them, but long story short, these books are truly worth the hype and I highly suggest you go read them right now. Just make sure you come back so we can fangirl together because I have some THOUGHTS.
The Cruel Prince
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.
And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.
Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
This series was my first big dip into the popular YA fantasy stuff, so it took me a little bit to really get into it. However, once I was immersed in the world of the fae, I never wanted to come back to reality. That being said, I’ve put off writing these reviews for so long that I’ve completely forgotten all the details worth discussing, so please bare with me as I try to compile something that resembles a decent review.
What I Liked
All the morally gray internal conflict. The characters were so complicated, and I really enjoyed that. I’d heard that this was a great book for people who like morally gray characters, so I was happy to learn that the hype was very real surrounding Jude, Carden, Taryn, and the rest of the gang.
The way the author handled the enemies-to-lovers trope. [SPOILER WARNING] I’m not gonna lie, I was really nervous about this. I went into the book knowing that Carden and Jude ended up together since I was so late to the party and everybody has already read this series. So, when Carden’s bullying started ramping up, I was deeply concerned that the author was going to just…conveniently forget about all the bullying because ROMANCE. However, I admit that I was VERY WRONG. The author does an excellent job of demonstrating that there are consequences for one’s actions. Carden and Jude are definitely enemies, but they also have an undeniable attraction to each other…and they hate that part of themselves. They are both incredibly messed up individuals, but I love that they are, inevitably, held accountable for their actions. That being said, I also really liked that the author provides Carden with enough backstory that we, as readers, can truly sympathize with him and understand his actions without condoning them. [END OF SPOILERS]
The sister relationships. Jude, V, and Taryn are all complicated girls with unique desires and internal conflicts. However, I adored their interactions, both the good and the bad, because I don’t see a lot of accurate sister relationships in books. Maybe that’s just because I don’t read enough books with sisters in them, but it was really refreshing to see these sibling bonds on the page in a way that I could both relate to and understand (since I have sisters).
What I’m Unsure About
The POV switch. The prologue of the story is in third person, while the rest of the book is in first person from Jude’s perspective. I remember thinking that this was really unique when I first started the book, but I still remain undecided about whether I liked it or not.
What I Disliked
A certain character that left me feeling very betrayed. If you’ve read the book, you know who I’m talking about. I really liked this character, but immediately knew that they would likely betray every single character. As a result, I am salty about this, and I will not be letting it go any time soon.
Death, murder, death of a parent, violence, bullying, racism, blood, physical abuse, injury/injury detail, sexual content, alcohol, and cursing.
“I think of Carden and how he will hate me. I think of what it means to make myself the villain of their piece.”
“Because you’re like a story that hasn’t happened yet. Because I want to see what you will do. I want to be part of the unfolding of the tale.”
“I get why he chose her. I just wish she had chosen me.”
Listen to My Playlists
If you have not read past the first book, The Cruel Prince, I highly suggest stopping here until you do. There are spoilers for the rest of the series from here on out.
The Lost Sisters
Sometimes the difference between a love story and a horror story is where the ending comes…
While Jude fought for power in the Court of Elfhame against the cruel Prince Cardan, her sister Taryn began to fall in love with the trickster, Locke.
Half-apology and half-explanation, it turns out that Taryn has some secrets of her own to reveal.
The Lost Sisters is a companion e-novella to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince by master writer Holly Black.
I both love and hate this story.
I love it because in a lot of ways, I really relate to Taryn. She wanted her happy ending and she was too consumed with that ideal to realize what it would cost her…what it was costing her. She betrayed the ones she loved for a chance at happiness, and while it’s an unpopular opinion, I understand why she would do that.
I also hate this story because it’s painful to watch Taryn justify her actions. She was horrid and awful, but really, I think she just exemplifies some of the most complicated parts about being human.
And whether we like that or hate that, I think we owe it to characters like Taryn to try.
Death of a parent, murder, toxic relationship, bullying, gaslighting, emotional abuse, and infidelity.
“But what about all those girls, all those obedient girls who trusted and loved and wed and died? Weren’t they bold, too?”
“It’s terrible to be a girl trapped in a story. But you can be more than that. You can be the teller. You can shape the story.”
“Sometimes it’s easier to be mad at the people close to us,” Vivi said, “than to be mad at the people who deserve it.”
The Wicked King
You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.
The first lesson is to make yourself strong.
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
This might be my favorite of the three books (which is hilarious because this is the one I cannot remember for the life of me). It was so well-paced, didn’t kill my soul like every other middle book in a trilogy, and it just extended everyone’s internal conflicts in such a delightfully evil way.
What I Liked
The worldbulding. If I remember correctly, in this book we get to explore some parts of Elfhame that weren’t shown in The Cruel Prince. So, I really enjoyed watching as Holly Black just expanded this little universe and let the characters flounder in new places.
The romantic angst. Again, if I remember this book at all (which is entirely questionable), then the angst was VERY REAL. I was thriving on all the Jurdan nonsense, and I distinctly remember messaging my friend every two seconds because I was obligated to shove every moment of their chaos down her throat.
What I Disliked
I really can’t remember disliking anything in this book. However, when I inevitably reread these books, I’ll try to remember to update this section if I encounter anything that I hate.
Murder, violence, blood, death, torture, sexual content, and vomit.
“And the single last thing in my head: that I like him better than I’ve ever liked anyone and that of all the things he’s ever done to me, making me like him so much is by far the worst.”
“Kiss me again,” he says, drunk and foolish. “Kiss me until I am sick of it.”
“You’re young, but you’re ambitious in the way that perhaps only the young can be.”
The Queen of Nothing
He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.
Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.
Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.
Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.
And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, comes the highly anticipated and jaw-dropping finale to The Folk of the Air trilogy.
This book was an absolute WILD RIDE from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it really was the perfect conclusion to such a crazy adventure.
What I Liked
The ridiculous and chaotic plot. This book had the most insanity of the trilogy, and I remember laughing about The Plot Twist while texting with my friend because it was just SO SILLY. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about, and yes, I will not be letting this one go because the author just decided to be incredibly silly. I hope more authors follow her lead because it was glorious in every way.
The character growth. This book really captured the growth of all the main characters in a way that was really satisfying. They obviously grow a lot over the course of the trilogy, but this book just demonstrates that growth the best, I think.
What I Disliked
Jude’s time in the real world. Yes, I know the plot demanded it, but I just found those parts a little boring compared to the scenes in Elfhame, y’know?
The sex scene. I actually don’t fully dislike how the author did this scene, but it is definitely the spiciest scene I’ve ever read (don’t come for me, I just like my angsty fluff *sobs*). I never felt violated as a reader, which I definitely think was a win. However, I have mixed feelings about the scene in general because it was a little awkward and some parts just felt weird.
Blood, death, violence, war, murder, cannibalism (mentioned, not shown), sexual content (one sex scene that is described), pregnancy, and abortion (I believe it’s only mentioned).
“Maybe it isn’t the worst thing to want to be loved, even if you’re not. Even if it hurts. Maybe being human isn’t always being weak.”
“Come home and shout at me. Come home and fight with me. Come home and break my heart, if you must.”
“That’s what mortal means,” I say with a sigh that I don’t have to fake. “We die. Think of us like shooting stars, brief but bright.”
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.
Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone . Revealing a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan, his tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.
This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.
I will never have enough of Carden’s POV. I need an entire rewrite of Cruel Prince from his POV because this was delightful.
Overall, I really enjoyed this collection. It was QUITE as good as the rest of the series, but it was fun, memorable, filled with backstory tea, and provided good insight into why Carden is the way he is.
Abandonment, child abuse, physical abuse, bullying, violence, infidelity, alcohol, and minor sexual content.
“You don’t think monster girls and wicked boys deserve love?”
“Because stories tell a truth, if not precisely the truth.”
“I am nothing,” Carden said, “if not dramatic.”
Have you read The Folk of the Air series? Which book was your favorite? What your favorite moment? Let’s talk all things Cruel Prince in the comments down below!