How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories – Holly Black

  • Reviews

Release Date: November 24, 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You don’t think monster girls and wicked boys deserve love?

Holly Black, How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

I am super excited to be reviewing the latest book in Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air Series, How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories. This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2020, and I finally got to read it a few days after its release.

Format & Plot

Okay so I’m trying to figure out if I didn’t like this novella, or if I just generally don’t like reading novellas, since I’ve never really given one a high rating. The Folk of the Air Series is so intense and action-packed, but there was really not much happening in this book, and I had a hard time getting into it. I think it had quite a lot of potential, since hearing about the childhood of an antagonist of sorts can be quite interesting, but this was just not it.

Art

Dear artist of How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories, you are amazing. The art was 100% the best part of this book, and I’m not sure if I’d get copyrighted for inserting it here so I won’t, but you should search it up because it is seriously so talented. The title pages for each part of this book make it so much more magical, but what I loved most were the pieces of Cardan. Being that Cardan is a magical creature, I did have quite a difficult time picturing him, but the art did the job so well. The artist makes Cardan look so full of glory and yet also sadness, and they really only use blue, grey and gold colours, which I thought perfectly portrays him.

Characters

Some of this book is centred around Cardan and his old friends Nicasia, Locke, and Valerian, and it was interesting to actually get insight into Cardan’s romantic relationship with Nicasia, who we are made to hate in the series. Not saying that this book made me like her more, just that it was cool to learn how exactly they became so close, and read about it from Cardan’s POV.

Locke is hands down the most despicable character to read about, and this novella only intensifies that. Why is everyone so concerned with Cardan’s behaviour when they could critique Locke’s much more easily? Well obviously because Cardan is royalty, but still.

Tail

I’m sorry but can we stop mentioning that Cardan has a tail? Like at this point we are all well aware that Cardan has a tail, so repeatedly bringing it up just makes it so uncomfortable, especially in romantic scenes.

Spoilers Ahead!

Romance

When I read Cruel Prince I did not imagine Cardan liking Jude in the way he does in the flashbacks of this book – the hate seemed pretty mutual. This book made it seem like Cardan always admired her, and even though he says he hates humans, he is portrayed in this book as always having a bit of a soft spot for Jude, and he is confused by why she hates him. This book has a weird thing with describing body parts – like tails – and so Cardan’s love for Jude is expressed in his weird infatuation with her “curved ear”? I don’t follow.

Also, this liking to Jude happens all while Cardan is in this relationship with Nicasia, and yet he is so crushed when she has feelings for Locke. In a sense I get it obviously, because she still betrays him – and with his best friend of all people – but in another sense it seems like he really only felt friendship for her, as he was pretty curious about Jude.

Aslog

The story – stories I guess – that Aslog tells Cardan are pretty interesting since they end up relating to Cardan in later parts of the book, but also I don’t really understand the whole purpose of them. I’m also pretty confused about Aslog’s death scene at the end, and where that all came from. However, I do have a tendency to accidentally miss some details in books, so that could be it. Please let me know your thoughts!

Final Thoughts

All in all I’m happy I read this book because I got another piece of a series I love so much, but it definitely didn’t meet all the hype I was giving it in my mind. Happy to hear your opinions, and thanks for reading!

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