A Guide To Reading The Cruel Prince Series In Order

From the very same author that brought you the famous Spiderwick Chronicles, comes the young adult fantasy The Folk of the Air Series, also known as The Cruel Prince Series, starting with the book of the same name.

The Folk Of The Air Series Also Known As The Cruel Prince Series In Order

What’s more, this series has become such a great bestseller that Universal Pictures has bought the screen rights for it!

But every reader knows, reading the books is usually way better than watching a story unfold on screen.

You might not get as much imagery, but you get a much better insight into what the characters are thinking and feeling.

When it comes to reading The Cruel Prince Series (real name The Folk of the Air Series) in order you have various options available to you.

You can either read just the 3 main books in order, or you can read them along with the two novellas, and you can also throw in the two Stolen Heir books, which are not part of the main story, but they are set in the same world.

About The Cruel Prince Series

This is one amazing series – an epic fantasy adventure in a faraway land.

It’s a tale beset with the likes of magic and enchantments, as well as very dark and dangerous elements such as deaths.

It’s a series that will strike your heart as you wish the best for your favorite characters, as they endeavor to know who they can and cannot trust.

This is because the books are filled with conniving, manipulative characters who tend to put themselves first before all else.

And it is these characters that give the story such great plot twists, especially if you also read the novellas along the way.

Another great feature of this series is the enemies-to-lovers trope between the mortal Jude and the cruel faerie Prince Cardan.

Jude hates Prince Cardan with a passion, and it’s undoubtedly mutual.

In fact, Jude hates Prince Cardan so much that she can’t stop thinking about him.

And it doesn’t help that it’s only by defying him that she can earn her desired destiny.

And with her hunger for power in the faerie realm, she is NOT going to let him stand in her way!

Yet at the same time, neither can help but be attracted by the other. And this is what makes it such intriguing reading.

The Cruel Prince Series In Order – Inclusive Of The Two Novellas

Here follows my preferred way of reading The Cruel Prince Series, featuring both the three main books and the two novels as well, all in the chronological order of the storyline.

I’ll give you the gist of what each book is about and give you the pros and cons of each, so you can decide which ones you’d like to read.

A quick heads up – I have tried to avoid including spoilers in this section, but I can’t promise I won’t be giving anything away, and unfortunately, some spoilers are inevitable.

The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, 1)

The first book in The Cruel Prince series follows the story of a mortal girl, Jude, who gets kidnapped along with her two sisters and gets brought up in the High Court of Faerie.

As the years go by, she yearns to earn her place there. But unfortunately, the Faerie folk tend to despise mere mortals, and the only way for Jude to win her place at the Court is to defy Prince Cardon, who she absolutely hates, and in turn, face the horrifying consequences.

Jude then finds herself embroiled in royal faerie intrigue and lies.

The circumstances soon heighten, and as civil war threatens, Jude discovers her capacity for bloodshed.

And if she is to ever save her sisters, she will have to form an unlikely and dangerous alliance, and even risk her own life.


  • A spell-binding tale, packed with action and complete with deadly romance
  • The interesting heroine, in a world she both loves and hates, torn between power and good
  • The story takes and twists that you won’t see coming
  • An intelligent plot that leads to a jaw-dropping revelation at the end!


  • Readers won’t like Prince Cardan, who is basically just a spoiled bully
  • Some readers felt that this book didn’t live up to all the hype

The Lost Sisters (Novella)

The Lost Sisters (The Folk of the Air)

This book spans the events starting from the end of The Cruel Prince right up to the beginning of the second main book in the series, The Wicked King.

It’s kind of a spin-off book, focusing on Jude’s twin sister Taryn, and her relationship with the trickster faerie Locke, telling the events from her perspective as she falls in love with Locke.

In this book, Taryn attempts to apologize to her sister for her behavior, and at the same time, she also has some closely guarded secrets to reveal.


  • This novella has a refreshing feel to it since it’s written from the point of view of Jude’s twin sister Taryn, who is in many ways the very opposite of Jude herself
  • This book does an excellent job of providing more backstory to the tale


  • You don’t really need to read this novella in order to enjoy the 3 main books in the series
  • This novella tends to make readers really dislike the character Taryn

The Wicked King

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, 2)

In this tense sequel to The Cruel Prince, Jude has now bound herself to Cardan, the new king, and she has made herself the power behind the throne.

But things aren’t at all easy. King Cardan does everything in his power to humiliate her, and, it appears, someone close to her is preparing to betray her and threaten the lives of everyone she holds dear.

Jude is on a mission to uncover the traitor while she contends with her complicated feelings, and fights to maintain some control in the faerie world.


  • Some readers feel this sequel is even better than the first book in the series
  • There’s danger, mystery, manipulation, betrayal, intrigue, and dark romance
  • Fast-paced and intense with larger-than-life, breathtaking action
  • Features the same compelling characters and their relationship drama continues


  • Some readers found themselves really disliking some of the main characters

The Queen Of Nothing

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, 3)

After what happened at the end of the second book in the series, the mortal Queen of Faerie is left reeling from the King’s betrayal and is exiled back to her home world.

And while shay is powerless, Jude is determined to reclaim all that she has lost.

Meanwhile, the life of her twin sister Taryn lies in the balance, and in order to save her, Jude must risk venturing back to the Faerie Court.

Things are not as they once were, however, and a powerful curse has been unleashed throughout the land, and war is brewing.

Jude slides behind enemy lines and is once again embroiled in Faerie politics.

Eventually, Jude is forced to choose between her ambition and her humanity.


  • Darkness, backstabbing, romance, and girl power are aplenty
  • A genre-crossing novel incorporating fantasy with urban fantasy 
  • Twists and turns that keep the reader on the edge of their seat
  • There’s been a lot of praise for the ending – the perfect finale


  • The saga comes to an end, and the tale of Jude versus Carden is over, and It’s sad to say goodbye

How The King Of Elfhame Learned To Hate Stories (Novella)

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air)

Just as the title suggests, this book was written to provide deeper insight into just why Cardan became so full of hatred and so inclined to be cruel.

This is achieved through a series of short stories told wholly from Cardan’s point of view.

Much of this book is set before Jude came on the scene, but I would advise against reading this book before reading The Cruel Prince because the story is best told through the eyes of Jude in the first instance.

Besides, there are also scenes in this book that overlap those of the first main book, The Cruel Prince.

The idea behind this book is to simply give readers a better understanding of Jude, and what made him such a hateful faerie.


  • This is an illustrated book, complete with excellent full-color artwork in every chapter to help you picture the characters, world-building, and events
  • You finally get to see some of the interaction between Jude and Cardan from Cardan’s point of view


  • This is merely a bonus novella and is not really key to the story unless you’re particularly interested in Cardan’s point of view

The Cruel Prince Series In Order: Main Books Only

Truth be told, however, you don’t really need to read the two novellas in order to follow the main three books in the series.

So, if you’d prefer to just read the main story only and ditch the two novellas, then this is the order in which you should read them.

  • The Cruel Prince
  • The Wicked King
  • The Queen of Nothing

I haven’t provided the synopsis of each book and the pros and cons in this section because I covered them earlier.

Bonus Series: The Stolen Heir Duology (In Order)

In addition to the main series and its novellas, Holly Black has written another series that is set in the same world but at a different time as a sequel to the first series, this time concentrating on different characters.

Here follows the order in which to read this two-book bonus series. I’ve included the synopsis of each book and a few pros and cons.

The Stolen Heir

The Stolen Heir: A Novel of Elfhame (The Stolen Heir, 1)

This book is set 8 years after the events in The Queen of Nothing, the last book in The Cruel Prince series.

It’s set in the same world and is still dealing with the politics of Elfhame.

Lady Nore has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel in the north, and she is using an ancient relic to create monsters to do her bidding and exact her revenge.

Meanwhile, Suren (AKA Wren), the one person with power over her mother, Lady Nore, gets rescued from lonely, feral life in the human world, by none other than Prince Oak, now 17.

Oak is on a mission leading into the north and wants Wren to accompany him.

If she agrees, not only will she have to guard her heart against the faerie she was once promised in marriage to but came to resent, but she would also have to confront all the horrors she had tried to leave behind her.


  • It has the same elements of danger, magic, and love as the first series
  • After this book, most readers can’t wait to read the next installment!
  • The characters are richly developed and have several layers


  • This book does not feature Jude and Cardan, although they are referred to quite frequently
  • This series is even darker than The Cruel Prince series
  • This book ends on a cliffhanger and will not satisfy as a standalone

The Prisoner’s Throne

The Prisoner's Throne (The Stolen Heir)

Details on this book remained rather vague when this article was written because the book was not yet published.

But what we can reveal is that the story focuses on Prince Oak and the even deeper trouble that he finds himself in after the shocking events of the previous book.

Oak is desperate to find a way out and is in a race against time to do so before Elfhame gets caught up in the next big storm.


  • This book deals with the cliffhanger at the end of the previous book
  • This book should not end on another cliffhanger


  • This book was not due to be published until after this article was written (although it was available to pre-order) so the cons of the book aren’t yet known

Final Thoughts

All in all, The Cruel Prince Series and The Stolen Heir Duology are excellent book series for teenage readers of age 12 and above.

Yes, there are some mature themes (I won’t go through them because I don’t want to spoil the story for you), but it’s not steamy, and the romance stays clothes-on.

Both series offer excellent escapism, as the readers are drawn into a world completely unlike our own, with magic and danger at every turn.

What makes this series so great has to be the relationships between the characters and the dramatic effects that they have on one another.

There is also a great deal of intrigue and lots of twists and turns along the way.

The only real bad thing about the Stolen Heir series at this point (when this article was written) is that it’s going to be quite a while before the final book, The Prisoner’s Throne, is available to read (although it is available to pre-order).

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Cruel Prince Series A Trilogy?

The main books in the series do make up a trilogy, but there are also novellas and loosely related duology as well.

How Many Books Are There In The Cruel Prince Series?

If you include the two novellas and the 3 main books together, this makes a 5-book series.

Is The Cruel Prince A Duology?

The Cruel Prince is not a duology, it consists of 3 main books and two novellas. There’s also a duology called The Stolen Heir, which is set in the same world.

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Noah Burton