BOOK REVIEW: THE CRUEL PRINCE
Imagine this: you are about 7 years old, watching TV with your siblings – a gory movie/documentary – when suddenly, someone knocks at your door. Even though you’re not the oldest or remotely old enough, you answer the door. Waiting at the door is a scary-looking man. You’re not sure if he’s human or a monster. As though he didn’t want to leave you wondering for too long, he chose to give you a glimpse. The strange man killed your parents, not with a gun, but with a sword that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
The story is set 10 years after the gruesome murder. At first glance, it may seem like one of those mystery books where the main character ends up being a “righteous judge” out to find her parents’ killer and hasten karma. But that was not the case. The main character did not end up “righteous” nor become thirsty for revenge. Rather, she was thrown into a magical world, living and depending on her parents’ killer.
While most writers seem to have hacked the code of writing books where everyone loves the protagonist and absolutely despises the antagonist, this writer was different. She created a protagonist that is unfilial and not very easy to love. Her protagonist was a nasty, manipulative, and power-hungry “villain-hero”. Several times mid-read, you are forced to wonder if the main character was indeed a protagonist or an antagonist wey dey disguise. I wish I could say I absolutely loved the book, but I had quite a few reservations:
- The main character was more power-hungry than Napoleon from the Animal Farm. I especially found Jude’s unrelenting thirst for power annoying. Granted, given the circumstances she grew up in, she had to have realised she needed power to survive, but our dearest protagonist was willing to do absolutely anything for power. I am certain that if she had to sell her soul to the Grim Reaper in exchange for power, she would have done so without batting an eyelid. Oh, she did in fact sell her soul. For someone that hated the mere thought of being controlled, she sure had a knack for it when she was the one holding the reins.
- The male lead was an absolute jerk. Cardan was perhaps the only one who did not break character from beginning to the end – consistency at its finest! We wanted a jerk, and we got the worst of the lot. Perhaps it was my fault for expecting the regular “bad guy turns good” story. I only have myself to blame for expecting him to turn out good in the end, as if Buhari’s regime hadn’t taught me anything. I mean, it was obvious from the start that the “protagonist” was no good girl. Of course, the author tried the agelong trick of trying to excuse his behaviours based on some childhood trauma, but it still didn’t fly for me.
- The other characters were just as annoying. This book was an entire universe of bad people as there was not a single good soul in sight. I know we all have our shortcomings, but even though, even though! Her sister was overall best in selfishness; her parents’ murderer-turned-father would give Dracula a run for his money with his seemingly insatiable quest for blood, and her younger sister took a masterclass in betrayal from Judas. Essentially, a core lesson I learnt from this book is that the heart of man is desperately wicked. Stay guarded.
- The plot’s buildup was excruciatingly slow. Apart from the prologue, which was rather intriguing and made you want to dive straight into the book, the first few chapters were an unnecessary drag. Why did we have to waste so many chapters just to inform the reader that the protagonist was a horrible person? We got the point from the beginning; there was no need to waste several pages trying to prove an already proven point. Ko neccestri.
Regardless of the foregoing, if you’re looking to read a fantasy-themed book that will have you entrapped in the world of magic, however “fantasical” (pun intended), this book might very well be for you. The gory imps and hobs, goblins and grigs, gossamer wings and green nails, horns and fangs, amongst others, make this book pretty much a temporary fix to quell your thirst? Hunger? Whichever one it is for you. It might be important to add at this point that, this book is part of a series, which just means there is plenty of fun to be had.
Now I would give no spoilers (or at least no more than I already have), but if you perchance have read the book, kindly share what you think about it. If you haven’t, I think it is a book worth checking out (Don’t mind all my reservations). You need not take my word for it though, since I am but an amateur fantasy reader. Instead, you can trust the words of a No 1 New York Times bestselling author. Well, that’s pretty much every author these days, but you should probably take your chances.