How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
by Holly Black; narrated by Caitlin Kelly
Once upon a time there was a boy with a wicked tongue…
Before Cardan was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. In this sumptuously illustrated tale, Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince, an adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar but pivotal moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective.
This new instalment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humour and drama that enchanted readers everywhere.
To be perfectly honest I was never in a rush to get to this book–in fact I wasn’t sure I’d ever read it at all, despite loving The Folk of the Air trilogy–but when I spotted the audiobook on BorrowBox, and saw how short it was, I couldn’t resist borrowing it and I managed to listen to the whole thing during an afternoon walk around the coast.
Now that I’ve read it, I’m still not entirely sure what I thought of it. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did I love being back in Holly Black’s version of the fae world? Yes. Is Cardan still an absolute disaster of a character that I can’t help but enjoy? Yes. If I’m being perfectly honest, though, I’m not entirely sure what the point of this book was.
We see some scenes from Cardan’s early life, witness some of the events of The Cruel Prince from his point of view, and then also follow a new adventure he and Jude are having in the mortal world which takes place after The Queen of Nothing. I don’t know what this book is, and maybe that doesn’t matter because I still enjoyed it, but I’d much rather see a different part of the fae world, and follow different characters, than continue to be brought back to the same characters if Holly Black decides to keep returning to this world she’s created.
I did enjoy seeing the beginning of Cardan’s relationship with Nicasia—in fact Nicasia herself, and her underwater court, is something I’d like to see more of in future—but this novel isn’t quite a prequel, isn’t quite The Cruel Prince told from Cardan’s point of view, and isn’t quite a sequel. Yet it also is all of those things in tiny bursts, so I’m once again left with the thought, ‘what was the point of this book?’ Again, the ‘point’ of it maybe doesn’t matter at all because I did have a good time with it, but I also get the feeling this is the kind of book I’ll have forgotten I’ve read in about a year’s time. I don’t think it’s going to stick with me precisely because it’s not entirely sure what it’s set out to be. I try not to be too cynical but, given how much of a fan favourite Cardan is, part of me can’t help feeling like this is a bit of a money grab—and I wouldn’t be all that mad if it is because, frankly, good on Holly Black for making herself some money to pay her bills
Ultimately, though, I’m glad this is one I decided to borrow from the library; if I’d bought myself a copy, even though the illustrations look beautiful, I think I’d’ve been disappointed.