[Review] How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

Release date: 24 Nov 2020

Name: HTKOELTHS (abbreviation)
Author: Holly Black
Series: Folk of the Air #4
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Romance
Pages: 192
Rating: ★★★★★

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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. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-colour art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by audiences both new and old.

The Good


The artwork! It is even more beautiful in real life than any of the spoilers have shown. The style absolutely fits the aesthetic of a fairy realm and fantasy setting.

• Some soft Jurdan moments..aww.

• We get so much more insight as to why Cardan started out the series the way he did and how honestly he’s been soft the entire time but just had really good armor and strong walls put up.

• Much desired scenes from Cardan in the modern world! They were probably my favorite.

The Bad

NO one is more shocked than me that I actually have something to say in this section. It was always going to be a five star read because this is my second favorite series next to everything Shadowhunters. However, this book didn’t quite meet my expectations and I need to share this because I know a lot of people shared these expectations. If you don’t want any spoiling..skip this part.

• I was under the impression we would get actually POV of Cardan in scenes we already read about in previous books. This is not the case. There was maybe two or three rather insignificant moments that were shown, but none of the pivotal moments..such as chapter 15 from TWK or several soft moments from QON. I was absolutely needing some more POV during the time Jude was trapped in the undersea. Didn’t happen.

• There was only two Jurdan moments if I recall correctly and both of them were post QON and rather insignificant. This was so upsetting. I honestly feel lied to about what we were supposed to be getting. Crying.

..and the absolute worst of all

• There were more Nicassia moments than Jurdan ones. I mean, it offered a bit of explanation of the development of that relationship and explains how he thought he loved her. I was NOT HERE for Nicassia scenes. I understand a bit of why she included these moments-to highlight Cardan’s character growth and how his childhood trauma developed. It could have been covered in one story though and not multiple ones..especially if you aren’t going to balance it with Jurdan moments.

Final Thoughts

Look, despite the negatives, this was a great addition to the series. I loved seeing more of Cardan from his perspective and learning just how he developed the way he did. Holly did a fantastic job aligning all of the stories to follow an actual plot line. This I think was a really neat touch to the concept of the novella. The artwork was so absolutely beautiful and created the perfect aesthetic for the world of the book.

The negatives though really did bring down my initial excitement of finally having this book. I was so looking forward to see some of our favorite scenes from the books in his POV but it just really wasn’t there. I’d love for her to somehow rectify this in the future whether it be another novella of some kind or a bonus scene in her newsletter or exclusive content in a future book in this same world. Maybe I just need to let it go and get my fix from fanfiction. It definitely took me a few days to get over my initial shock and disappointment after I was done reading. I’ve balanced this all though with telling myself that my expectations of what should have been in the book is less relevant because in the end, this is Holly’s story. This is what she wanted to tell us and I have to respect that.

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