Book Review: How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

So, I actually read this book in July, so I’m counting it as a July read… just saying. Yes, I’m posting the review on the 2nd August, but hey, lots of stuff has been happening.

Holly Black does it again with her tales of the fair folk, and I absolutely loved the edition I bought from Fairyloot. ‘How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories’ is a long title, but it’s a great one too, and I loved dipping into the world of Elfhame once again.


An illustrated addition to the New York Times bestselling Folk of Air trilogy, that started with The Cruel Prince, from award-winning author Holly Black.

An irresistible return to the captivating world of Elfhame.

Once upon a time, there was a boy with a wicked tongue.

Before he was a cruel prince or a wicked king, he was a faerie child with a heart of stone . #1 New York Times bestselling author, 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.

This new installment in the Folk of the Air series is a return to the heart-racing romance, danger, humor, and drama that enchanted readers everywhere. Each chapter is paired with lavish and luminous full-color art, making this the perfect collector’s item to be enjoyed by both new audiences and old.

My Review

Yes. Holly Black is the Queen of Fairy Tales. ‘The Cruel Prince’, ‘The Wicked King’, and ‘The Queen of Nothing’ are some of my favourite tales from her, and this beautiful special edition takes a look specifically at the character of Cardan. His past and present, snippets from the ‘Folk of the Air’ series itself but from Cardan’s perspective, and I really liked that there was an extra adventure post ‘The Queen of Nothing’.

This is an interesting book, mainly because it’s obviously not a full story. Instead, there are mini stories, mini tales, set-up almost like chapters, but there is a link between all of them, including the extra story post-’The Queen of Nothing’. No hints here, but I really, really liked the story link.

Cardan is recognisable in the beginning as the villain of the story – or rather, he envisages himself as the villain for much of the mini stories. But here instead, we get a glimpse into his character and history, and because of that it sets a new light on Cardan. Why he did the things he did, why he became what he became, and you can see the growth and development throughout.

There are hints at stories too, and an understanding as to the title, because it shows exactly why Cardan did learn to hate stories, even though he has a penchant for human novels. His is a tale filled with pain and suffering, but he comes through stronger at the end of it, discovering more about himself along the way. While the original series is in Jude’s perspective, I am so glad we got a glimpse here at Cardan. He is much more complicated and nuanced than perhaps the original books suggested. He meets many characters along the way, and you see slivers of his relationships with the known characters from the original books, but in another light. Here is a book that sheds a light on Cardan, and it is incredibly interesting.

Overall, I really enjoyed the tales of Cardan, from when he was a young prince up until after he became High King of Elfhame. The edition gleams with gorgeous illustrations, and my Fairyloot edition is beautiful, encased in a purple sleeve with gold sprayed pages.

Overall, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Check out the book on Goodreads

Purchase it from Waterstones, UK

Buy it secondhand at World of Books

Kate @ Kandid Chronicles x


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