I recently read the first two books of The Folk of the Air series, The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King.
I had heard such wonderful things about this gripping, suspenseful, dark fantasy. And in some ways, it delivered. But not quite, unfortunately.
The Cruel Prince begins with Jude (the main protagonist) watching her parents be murdered right in front of her. Now, for me, that is an awesome start. Action, introduction to the characters, etc.
If I were to simply base my review off of Jude and her development as a character, it would be a five-star review, easily. But, I can’t just look at it from that angle.
The Cruel Prince satisfied all my wants and needs of what a “dark” fantasy should be and then some, but not in the way I had hoped.
You see, the faeries (I believe I used the proper spelling) are a party and sex-driven group of beings. They’re gorgeous in disturbingly, exotic ways, and they know how to use it to their advantage. Humans are kept as their servants, concubines–whatever they need.
Fortunately for Jude, her step-father (the one who killed her parents and took her and her siblings back with him) is the general, thus leaving Jude to a life of luxury.
Following this theme of partying, violence, and sex (though sex isn’t as prevalent) there is quite a bit of crude jesting and vulgar remarks.
On the subject of violence, there is a lot in this series. People have their wings ripped off for not bowing, mistresses of the king have been poisoned for being pregnant with the prince’s child, (disgusting, I know) and abuse of siblings is also seen.
While I enjoyed The Cruel Prince, (I gave it a four-star rating, despite some questionable content) I was unable to finish The Wicked King. The book just got far too mature for its teen rating.
A legitimate sex scene occurred (though the “actual” sex was off-page) with characters collapsed on a couch together, tearing off clothing at an alarming rate. I was able to see it coming, but it could easily catch readers unaware. Also, rather erotic comments such as “Kiss me until I’m sick of it” and “Tell me how much you absolutely hate me” (while in the midst of heavily making-out, I might add) were disturbing to read.
Language was also prevalent. Words like b*tch, d*mn, s*it, and b*stard were used multiple times. While language doesn’t bother me as much as sexual content does, it was still rather much, especially for its teen rating.
In the end, I was sad to have to stop reading, as the plot and characters were excellent. I love a good, dark fantasy as much as the next person, but I was disappointed with how mature this series was. If it were an adult series, I would understand, but it’s not.
Teens should not have these sort of themes normalized in the books they read. Just because it’s in the world around them doesn’t mean it has to be in their literature as well. For that, I have to give this series one star. It is not appropriate for teens.
You can find my content guideline for it here.
Credit goes to the owner for The Wicked King image. I simply procured it from the internet.