The Stolen Heir Book Review
It's time to return to Elfhame! But rather than follow Jude, The Stolen Heir by Holly Black features a new protagonist questing alongside Jude's little brother, Oak.
Black's latest release was one of my most-anticipated reads of the year, and it did not disappoint.
Category: Cozy Read
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RATING: 4.75/5 Stars
Plot: 4.5/5 stars
Characters: 5/5 stars
World: 5/5 stars
The Stolen Heir takes place several years after the conclusion of the Folk of the Air trilogy. Suren's (aka Wren's) narrative fills in a few gaps, giving us brief glimpses of what’s happened between then and now, as well as a deeper look into her childhood traumas and the darkness of the unseelie courts.
This book is a bit more gruesome and gory than other installments, at least once the party makes it to the Court of Teeth. The cruelty within the court shows the horrors Wren faced as a child captive. Those folk are hardcore!
The plot was engaging—a nice blend of plot and character-driven storytelling. The pacing was good, and I never felt bored with the story. I was able to predict the major plot points, but the ways some of the reveals unfolded surprised me.
My biggest complaint is that I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style; the heavy use of fragmented sentences bothered me. Sometimes I had to go back and reread. But if this is something you can overlook or wouldn’t bother you, then you should enjoy it!
The main characters remind me a bit of Jude and Cardan, but still stand on their own. Wren is a tough character who had a tumultuous childhood, more than one set of parents, and wants a better life for herself. But she undoubtedly suffered more than Jude, which is why she’s a more untrusting loner.
Oak is the opposite of Cardan—a golden boy who’s charming and kind, who draws people in. But he’s got a dark side that makes him more like his brother-in-law than you'd assume at first glance, and he's inherited a bit of his surrogate father's bloodthirstiness.
Suren is a feral girl whose experiences have taught her to trust no one and think quickly. She knows how cruel the fae folk can be, so she spends much of her time helping humans by thwarting faerie bargains. Her story is heartbreaking, and I wouldn’t blame her if she became a villain or antihero by the end of this duology. I hope the next installment brings her the love, loyalty, and healing she deserves.
"I have stood apart from the world for so long. That has made it hard for me to navigate being in it, but it has also made me an excellent observer." ––Suren
Oak was harder to put my finger on. He's funny, seems to have his heart in the right place, cares about his companions, and acts selflessly at times, but there were moments I questioned him. He’s hiding a thing or two, and he is also haunted by the past—by the way he came into the world, and the influence Madoc had over him as he grew up. I look forward to seeing what he does in the next book, and how his relationship with Wren will go.
"As a prince of Faerie, I flatly refuse to leave cash. It's inelegant. [...] Gift cards are worse. I would bring shame on the entire Greenbriar line if I left a gift card." ––Oak
"You might have woken me. I could have done something, surely. Applauded at the right moments Held your bag?" ––Oak
They travel with Tiernan, Oak’s personal guard who's torn between his loyalty and his lover—a cursed soldier whose loyalties aren’t as clear. He provides a lot of comedic relief and fun banter, and his good heart makes him a lovable character.
All of the minor characters were interesting enough, and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of them. I look forward to seeing who comes back in the next installment and really hope we get plenty of time with older faces we did not see in this book.
The world is just as enchanting as the original trilogy, full of the gorgeous faericore and goblincore aesthetics Holly Black is known for (and which we can't get enough of!). The characters also spend some time in the mortal realm, making the story feel a little closer to our reality. It was cool to see Suren outsmarting other faeries, using a cell phone, working magic, geeking over pockets in a dress, and fighting monsters.
I highly enjoyed following the characters to new parts of the faerie lands: dancing at the Court of Moths, bartering at the Undry Market, facing the curse of the Forest of Stone, and confronting Lady Nore in the icy and horrifying Court of Teeth.
I think this new tale is pretty on-par with the previous Elfhame books. It's a nice blend of new and familiar, and is one of the better YA books I've read in a while. So if you enjoyed Black's original Folk of the Air trilogy, you'll probably like Wren and her story. I had fun going back to Elfhame and definitely look forward to the next installment.
If you've not read the original books in this universe, you definitely should before picking up The Stolen Heir. Otherwise, you'll be confused on some of the characters and events discussed.
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