Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone. This is a spoiler-free review of How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black.
Holly Black reveals a deeper look into the dramatic life of Elfhame’s enigmatic high king, Cardan. This tale includes delicious details of life before The Cruel Prince. An adventure beyond The Queen of Nothing, and familiar moments from The Folk of the Air trilogy, told wholly from Cardan’s perspective. And to top it off, each chapter is paired with beautiful full-colour art.
Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue…Holly Black, How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
The Characters & World Building
This book is all about one character and that is Cardan, The High King of Elfhame. Although he wasn’t my favourite character in The Folk of the Air series, he is a main character. So, learning more about him was always something I was going to want to do. Especially when the series is that good! I actually really enjoyed getting a look into how Cardan came to be himself. Especially seeing him after the events following The Queen of Nothing. This character development almost builds more of the world for you, its almost like Cardan is the world. He forms such an imperative part in what makes Elfhame and so by being inside his mind you are also inside Elfhame and I love that.
“A heart of stone can still be broken.”Holly Black, How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
The accompanying illustrations are beautiful and it was really nice to see the words depicted on the pages. Illustrator Rovina Ca did such an amazing job of capturing his likeness and personality in her work. Rovina’s art style was a perfect choice for this book, it really encapsulates the dark side of Cardan and his group bringing the stories to life.
The Plot & Story Progression
Getting to see parts of the stories already written throughout The Folk of the Air from Cardan’s perspective adds so much more depth to the overarching plot lines. The main series is predominantly about Jude so I think a book from Cardan’s perspective was definitely necessary.
“Boys change. And so do stories.”Holly Black, How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories
Although not pivotal to the main plot and story it gives it an edge that it didn’t have before reading this. Seeing all the background details to events that took place gives the reader such a better understanding almost like you’re in the mind of the character and nothing beats that! Getting to the end of this book feels like completing a journey with Cardan and I think it is a journey all fans of The Cruel Prince should embark on.
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