by Holly Black
“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. I must try something new.”
New to the world of Elfhame? Start here with The Cruel Prince!
Prince Oak, heir to the Greenbriar line, has grown up under Heather and Vivi’s care in the mortal world and has now returned to the treacherous fae court in Elfhame. General Madoc is being held prisoner in the Court of Teeth, and despite his betrayals, Oak is still determined to save the father who raised him, with or without help from Jude and Cardan. But to do that, he’ll need find Lady Suren, the true queen of the north and the one person with the power to defeat Lady Nore thanks to the oath the High Queen forced Lady Nore to swear to her daughter and queen. Meanwhile, Wren has been living half-wild in the mortal world, close but not too close to her former human family. She makes a place for herself breaking the curses and traps that faeries try to trick mortals into. But without a strong talent for glamour, she cannot truly become part of the mortal world again thanks to her blue skin and knife-sharp teeth. When Oak appears in the mortal world asking for her help, Wren knows she cannot not trust him, but nor can she deny the desire to follow him.
The adventure of The Stolen Heir takes the form of a quest, crossing from the mortal world and traveling north to the Ice Citadel where Lady Nore is holding Madoc captive in her dungeons. After stealing Mab’s bones from the bowels of the court of Elfhame, Lady Nore has been using the magic of the dead fae queen’s remains to raise a terrible army. But she is still bound by oath of fealty to Lady Suren; a word from her could ruin all of Lady Nore’s plans—if Wren can get close enough. Doing so will require her to work closely with Oak. Our protagonists are two damaged children who have spent their lives being used as political pawns and now find themselves on the verge of adulthood. A true alliance between them could reshape the political landscape of Elfhame, but trust is terribly hard to come by.
Since the events of The Queen of Nothing, mischievous little Prince Oak has grown up to be beautiful and charming. Wren is afraid that Oak is a gancanagh—a lovetalker, like his birth mother before him, who ensnared first the High King, and then his son. Having spent her time in the mortal world as a cursebreaker, Wren knows all too well that she should never trust the beauty or charm of one of the fair folk. It does not help matters that Oak and Tiernan still hold Grimsen’s bridle, the magical artifact that Wren’s parents once used to control her. Worse, they are actively using it on Hyancinthe, keeping him prisoner and taking him north with them on their mission. Wren fears being put back in the bridle, but it is terrible in an entirely different way to see it inflicted upon another, and to do nothing.
In Holly Black’s new duology set in the world of Elfhame, Oak and Wren take center stage, with a side plot featuring Oak’s bodyguard Tiernan and his former lover Hyacinthe, who found themselves on opposite sides of the war. Jude and Cardan are firmly off-page, though the conclusion of The Stolen Heir makes it likely that they will feature more significantly in The Prisoner’s Throne, due out in 2024.
You might also like:
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black