The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

“There’s always something left to lose.”

Jude was seven years old 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.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war 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.

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Personal Thoughts:

The Cruel Prince is a dark, rich and wicked fantasy story that will surely delight readers.

Open with a brutal murder where the readers were introduced to the main character and narrator, Jude. Jude is a human girl raised in the Faery realm by the fae who killed her parents. Jude live among the faes in the land of Elfhame, together with her two sisters, Taryn – Jude’s twins sister and Vivi a half-fae. Under Madoc’s care, Jude and Taryn are getting the same privileged like any faes. They get to attend schools, parties and have every material things they need or want. But being human makes them an outcast by other faes. Jude wants nothing more than to be accepted by the Folk. She aims to be a Knight with the hope that when she becomes one, the fae will finally accept her and also to be able to protect her sister, Taryn.

“That’s what comes of hungering for something: you forget to check if it’s rotten before you gobble it down.”

Jude is a humanly flawed character which sometimes make her not very likeable. She is impulsive, a bit greedy, ambitious and even brutal at times. But Jude is also strong-willed and loving. She knows what she want, and she will do her best to get it. She will protect her family and those she loves.

In the beginning, it is easy to assume that the title refers to Cardan, who Jude see as someone loves to hate her because she is human. But as the story progress, and the fae court politics were introduced, readers will question who is the titular Cruel Prince is? And with everyone’s motives unknown to Jude, readers will have to guess and make assumptions as they read from Jude’s limited point of view.

And in the topic of motivations, there are some characters motivations that makes my eyebrows rise. First, Valerian, I don’t like the guy from the very start, but still I hope that Holly Black will have deeper explanations on why he love to bully and torture Jude other than because he simply likes to hurt others. Not only it doesn’t make sense since he has friends, but also it seems that it become an excuse for Jude to kill. Next is Cardan, his actions towards Jude is also pretty shallow. It’s make him look like an attention-seeking kind of guy, which is understandable given his family set-up and compare to Jude, but like with Valerian, I wish there’s more deeper explanations.

As for Locke, his play with Jude and Taryn is obvious from the start, which makes me wonder how Jude missed it. Maybe Jude is blinded or something? Anyway, back to Locke, I feel like Holly Black is not finished with this fae yet. It seems that he is still cooking something on his sleeves.

Also, I think that the duel scene between Jude and Taryn doesn’t need to happen. If there’s a need for duel, It should be between Jude and Locke, and not between the two sisters. They are sister for family sake. But considering Jude and Taryn grew up in the fae world and in Madoc’s care which is a military general of the fae’s court. I understand the impulse. Which I hope what it is – just an impulse. I hope they realized that family is still family.

“Nice things don’t happen in storybooks. Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.”

With murders, secrets, betrayal, and lies, The Cruel Prince is a wonderfully-dark and thrilling start to this new fae fantasy series, The Folk of the Air. Holly Black is clearly concocting an intricate fae mythology and equally intriguing story to wrap with it. I can’t wait to find out how she will fully developed the story and the characters in the next book, especially with Jude playing the fae-politics with Cardan.

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer

“Sometimes the memories we cling hardest too are the ones that hurt us the most.”

Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads

Personal Thoughts:

If fae stories will always be this good, I think I can finally put an end in my usual routine of avoiding books that deals directly with this magical creatures. Though there are books that has faery twist or fae characters that I have enjoy reading most books that directly focus to this magical creatures are missed than hit for me. The Falconer is actually the first YA faery fantasy reads that I really enjoy.

It’s a surprise for me to love this book and the faery characters inside its world. It’s like I was magically converted or put enthralled by this magical creatures, almost like faestruck by them. The book’ spells wrap me up in a way I never expected.

Aileana Kameron aka Kam kills feary for revenge. After witnessing the death of her mother whom killed by a faery, she promised to hunt down the fae that kill her mom. With the help of Kiaran, another faery who happens to be at the opposite side of the battle, Aileana study and trained herself killing fearies. Her list of kills grow almost every night and she look forward for the day that her next kill is the one faery who kill her mom and destroyed her life.

Scotland in 1800 is just a perfect setting for this story. With the huge fae folklore from that country and the old but majestic vibes it just so fitting. Elizabeth not only utilize the setting but also creatively build an authentic and realistic environment for her story and characters. The description of things and surroundings are vivid and alive.

The steampunk touch in the story is just perfect enough. Too much doze of steampunk is not really for me so I’m glad The Falconer deliver just enough for my liking. The fantasy and the steampunk kinda jives perfectly. Nothing too much which makes the story flow easily.

And since I love actions, I love all the glory details describe in Aileana’s fights or the faery killings. From her different attacks/moves to the name of her weapons. I also like the fact that she is making her own weapons, from conceptualizing, sketching and even testing them. It shows not only her talents but also her brilliant mind.

Ailena is definitely a strong heroine – both physically and mentally. Her development from an innocent young girl whose goal is to find love and marriage as expected by the society to a girl who is driven by revenge is well executed. All the hatred that push her to be a liar, and a killer is believable. All her actions and decisions are justified by her lost. It’s her way of coping up and I think she earned the right to be like that. For a girl in the year 1844, Aileana is a definitely a kick-ass heroine.

“Time won’t fix me. Time allows me to become more skillful at hiding how much I hurt inside. Time makes me a great liar. Because when it comes to grief, we all like to pretend.”

Then we have Derrick, Aileana’s little sidekick pixie who lives in her dressing room, fixing her clothes for honey. This little creature contribute a lot of fun in the plot. He’s silly in the most endearing way. I can’t help but smile or laugh every time he shows in the plot. He is Aileana’s loyal companion and very helpful friend. Love this little creature to bit. If only I have one like him in my dressing room too.

To those who are looking for romance, The Falconer has a little bit, but it will require so much patience to its readers. It’s not dragging but more on something that exist but wasn’t quite given focus. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me and my over imagination and too much anticipation. The hints are clearly there (or at least for me) but Aileana and Kiaran are both focus on their goal eliminating faeries along their way to entertain the possibility of romance between them. For me, this works very well, not only because it is realistic as both of them have their priorities but also it made me glued waiting for the some development. It doesn’t clouded the plot with oozing sweetness instead it give me something to hope and look forward to.

“Kiaran and I have little connection beyond our names. We battle, bleed and hunt together almost every night. He teaches me how to slaughter in the most effective, brutal ways possible. But I’ve never told Kiaran why I hunt, and he has never told me why he kills his own kind. This is our ritual, our dance. The only one that matters.”

Aside from the fantasy, this book is also a story of grief as it tells Aileana’s life after losing her mother from the hand of a faery. Not only she lost her mother, but also the one and only confidante she has. Her father is not much close to her. He doesn’t even recognize Aileana’s present but there is a reason behind this.

The ending is abrupt but promise a darker and more painful continuation to Aileana’s search for revenge.

Overall, The Falconer is an impressive start to this new steampunk fantasy series. It is a fast and surprising read that bewitch me from start to end. You’ll definitely enjoy this dark but surprising-light novel from an impressive newly debut author, Elizabeth May.

* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Chronicle Books in exchange of honest opinion.


The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

“I guess the sacrifice of my dignity is the only thing that will save us now. The things I endure for love. The Fates laugh at my torment.”

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined. Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Personal Thoughts:

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this book since its released but the faery storyline doesn’t really excite me to pick it up until recently that I receive a copy from Nikki. With all the hype around it I can’t help but expect good things from this book but after finishing I just wasn’t sure what I felt.

The writing is good, it’s accessible and straight to the point which makes this book an easy read for me. Kagawa’s descriptions of the Faeryland/nevernever flows vividly as well as the characters descriptions.

I haven’t read Shakespear’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream so when Julie Kagawa takes some characters from that book and transform them into her own I wish I have read A Midsummer Night’s Dream first before this book. I think it would be lovely to encounter them in the old tale first before the twist that Kagawa made. And in all honesty, I was even more intrigued by the lore behind the story than the actual storyline. I would love to explore more the original tale of the Seelie and Unseelie courts, King Oberon, Queen Mab, Queen Titania and the infamous Robin Goodfellow aka Puck.

Though I’m not at all familiar with all those characters and I haven’t read much faery stories I still find this book overly familiar. There were parts of the story that  reminds me of other books. The closet where Puck and Meghan used to enter the Nevernever land and the winter court reminds me of The Chronicles of Narnia. Grimaklin the Cait Sithe looks like Cheshire cat of Alice in Wonderland. There were also some references to falling down the rabbit hole. The idea of faeries survive on the dreams and beliefs of mortal world reminds me of The Never Ending Story. And the overly used Romeo and Juliet storyline between Ash and Meghan.

The characters doesn’t impress me but I have to give credit to Puck and Grimalkin. These two pre-existing characters that Kagawa used adds fun to the story. I enjoy Grimalkin the talking and sneaky cat and his fantastic one liner. Puck is adorable with his tricks and snarky comments. Compare to Ash he is much more solid character and I was sad to see him leave the plot. I understand that it was needed to make Ash and Meghan spend time together in order to get along and develop feelings for one another, but it seemed like such an easy way to get Puck out of the picture. After finishing this book I jump ahead with the Winter’s Passage novella hoping that Puck character will be back but again I hope too much.

Overall, The Iron King is a nice twist of faery world. Inspite of all the familiarity the author did a good job crafting her own plot. The idea of creating an Iron faeries is something new especially the reason on how and why they exist. I still plan to read the next book The Iron Daugther to see more of Puck and Grimalkin.

The Arctic Incident (Artemis Fowl #2) by Eoin Colfer

“Genius. No point in being humble about it.”

The Arctic Incident continues the adventures of the Irish child prodigy and criminal mastermind, Artemis Fowl. After managing to escape with the fairies’ money, he is sent to school. He learns that his father is still alive and travel to the Arctic to save him. Meanwhile, the fairies that live below the earth’s surface have discovered that the goblins have been receiving help from humans, and are becoming a big threat. They immediately suspect Artemis, and capture him. After learning that he is innocent, they make a deal. Artemis will help them solve their problem in exchange for help from the fairies to rescue his father.

Personal Thought:

This review is way due already. I’ve been busy planning my vacation lately thats why I haven’t posted anything here for awhile. I’m just trying to catch up now with all the backlogs writing I got on top of my head. So before I headed to my trip in a strange country let me wrap up my thoughts first for Eoin Colfer‘s The Arctic Incident.

Artemis Fowl is an interesting character to follow. I enjoyed reading The Arctic Incident as much as the first one (Artemis Fowl). I love the way the author portrays Artemis as the evil genius and a sweet kid who doesn’t like to show his kindness. Just like what I said in my review of the first book, Artemis Fowl is not a pure evil genius. And The Arctic Incident definitely proves it. He has a heart and some morals. All his evil doings from the first book is made because he is desperately trying to find his father who has been missing for two years. And The Arctic Incident basically center on Artemis rescue for his father.

I love Artemis Fowl’s character whether he is good or bad, more than anything else I love the genius in him. Which I really miss in this book, in the first book he is great as an evil genius but in here we see very little of his evil plotting. I like the fact that he is not just pure evil but I missed his genuine criminality from the first book. Placing Artemis Fowl into a heroic role is somehow amiss. He’s great as an evil genius, but as a hero he’s required to fail regularly. That just makes him clumsy and sad but still a genius. Nevertheless, I enjoy watching him question his ways, and seeing his hurts, while still keeping an arrogant super genius personality.

The story is action-packed but quite predictable, the synopsis from book jacket says it all. Artemis joining force with the LEP seems happen too soon. I imagined that they would have more encounter as enemies first instead of this. But it is fun to see again all the interesting characters from book one. Foaly is still as witty as he is. His constant remarks surely add fun to the story. Mulch Diggins is back after his escape in book one, and he literally saves the day for Artemis & Captain Short mission. Butler is still as loyal and protective body guard to Artemis. There are few additional background added to his character but it wasn’t explore much.

After the successful rescue of Artemis father, I wonder what will be his new motivation in the next book? What’s next for Artemis Fowl now that the faeries and him are even? I’ll be interested to see what is next. What will be his new criminal plans which I guess will also involve his new friend Mulch Diggins.