What I read: The Stolen Heir (The Stolen Heir Duology #1) by Holly Black

About the book

(blurb from Exclusive Books)

The Stolen Heir Holly BlackA runaway queen. A reluctant prince. And a quest that may destroy them both. Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth, has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge. Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, and the one person with power over her mother, fled to the human world, where she lives feral in the woods. Lonely, and still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, she bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains.

She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag Bogdana chases her through the night streets. Suren is saved by none other than Prince Oak, heir to Elfhame, to whom she was once promised in marriage and who she has resented for years. Now seventeen, Oak is charming, beautiful and manipulative. He’s on a mission that will lead him into the north, and he wants Suren’s help. But if she agrees, it will mean guarding her heart against the boy she once knew and a prince she cannot trust, as well as confronting all the horrors she thought she had left behind.

Stolen Heir Holly Black Review My thoughts

I haven’t read any of the other *Elfhame novels by Holly Black, but I saw this is the first book a duology – and is quoted to be a ‘new’ story, so I thought it would be a good way to jump into this fantasy universe.

“It is hard to explain the savagery of hope.”

Understanding that this is sort of a prequel, so I may have to re-read it at some time.

The book opens with a map to show the journey to be navigated. And who doesn’t love a book with maps? I also liked the illustrations at the start of each chapter and at the top of each page – quite delightful.

“Sometimes life gives us the terrible gift of our own wishes come true.”

Suren (Wren) in the human world, is found in the forest, and fostered and adopted by a family. Her physical appearance is a bit different from the humans, she is very fair (described as light blue, with blue hair) and cold all the time. With the help of a glamour spell, her new family loves and accepts her as a little human orphan. She even has a big sister, Rebecca and is living a peaceful and ‘normal’ life. When she was about 8 years old though, the storm hag Bogdana, as well as a lord and lady from the Court of Teeth, claiming to be her parents, randomly appears one night and hauls her off to the world she came from. And this is where the adventure starts!

Wren has a difficult life, and the reader gets quite an in-depth insight into her backstory. She is complicated and multi-layered. I quite liked her – as I am usually a fan of morally grey characters.

“Another girl might have frozen, but I am cold all the way through.”

The young prince Oak comes across as a real charmer – while saying and doing all the things a fantasy prince should. But there is more to him than meets the eye.

“He’s the kind of beautiful that makes people want to smash things.”

I did enjoy the “opposites attract” dynamic between these two! And the thought of a “dress of dreams”!

“My greatest weakness has always been my desire for love. It is a yawning chasm within me, and the more that I reach for it, the more easily I am tricked. I am a walking bruise, an open sore. If Oak is masked, I am a face with all the skin ripped off. Over and over, I have told myself that I need to guard against my own yearnings, but that hasn’t worked.”

“With him, I am forever a night-blooming flower, attracted and repelled by the heat of the sun.”

On this adventure/quest, the reader is also introduced to various other worlds and courts, which I quite enjoyed. The world-building is brilliant! Interwoven with the human and mortal world, including a visit to a 711-convenience store, was quite amusing.

I had the fact that I may not have the full picture, in the back of my mind all the time. And I am not sure if that had an impact on my enjoyment of the book, in other words, it would be a 4.5 star read instead of a 3.5 star one?

I’m ready for the second book in this duology. Although, thinking of it – maybe I must just move straight onto the main three books in the “The Folk of the Air” series – and catch up on the Stolen Heir duology after that? What do you think?

“All of Faerie is beautiful like this, with carnage hidden just beneath.”

A must-read for fans of fantasy and fae. It is filled with adventure, featuring a diverse cast of characters.

And while you do it, do check out this fantastic Spotify playlist, compiled by Holly Black herself – love this!

*Elfhame novels
• BOOK 1 The Cruel Prince
• BOOK 1.5 The Lost Sisters
• BOOK 2 The Wicked King
• BOOK 3 The Queen of Nothing
• BOOK 3.5 How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

With thanks to Exclusive Books for the opportunity to read this book 

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