“In Faerie, there are no fish sticks, no ketchup, no television.” – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.
This is how Holly Black sums up the time between the bloody murder of Jude’s parents when she is seven to her teenage present in chapter one of The Cruel Prince.
It is one chapter made up of one sentence.
As the reader reads on they can quickly learn that this is, really, the least and most that can be said to describe Jude’s childhood years in faerie. This one sentence puts all the narrative stress on what Jude has lost. It mentions many contextual items from her memory of the day of her parents’ death with the glaring absence of any reference to her parents. We do not get ‘no mum, no dad’ and I think that is because there are no words good enough to describe some experiences.
There is so much harshness in the bareness of this chapter. The chapter has visual strength on the page because, bar the chapter heading, that is all there is. With the darkness and savagery of Black’s faerie world in mind, we simply cannot imagine or truly fathom what has gone unsaid about those years.
And the chapter makes a point of saying nothing of what has been gained.
The Cruel Prince is one of my favourite books. The writing style alone is amazing, let alone the character arcs and plot twists. Interestingly enough, all of my favourite novels fall into the fantasy genre. Sometimes you can’t beat a spot of magic to break up a dull day (I know I can’t).
Fantasy novels can take you to wicked places (as in The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King by Holly Black) or it can guide you down a hopeful path (as in The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison). Or maybe you just want a classic adventure a la The Hobbit. The fantastical can inspire and enrich the mundane, no matter what form it takes. Like Jude in The Cruel Prince we can be thrust into a world of faeries, far from the every day world we know, and come out stronger for it.
With that in mind I am officially starting this blog by joining Wyrd and Wonder which is a month long celebration of fantasy hosted by a group of bloggers (check out this post to find out more). I’ll be posting book reviews, discussions and other misc items that take my fancy throughout May.
Be warned: This is just the first page of the Fictional Fox story, there are plenty more chapters (and inevitable plot twists) to come.