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Holly Black recently released a novella called How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories from The Folk of the Air series. Instead of this story taking place from Jude Duarte’s perspective this is from Cardan Greenbriar. I didn’t do a review on the other novella called The Lost Sisters though I did read it. Nor do I with most novellas, though I think I’m going to start in the future whenever I do. So, let me use this one as the first.
The story is split between the past and events after The Queen of Nothing from the main series. We get to see Cardan’s life before The Cruel Prince and his treatment from his family. As well as what happened between Locke, Cardan, and Nicasia when Locke broke the two of them up. We see more on that from Taryn’s perspective in The Lost Sisters when Locke leaves Nicasia for Taryn, and how that led to the events of Cardan pushing Jude into the river. We also see that same event from Cardan’s POV. Along with how much he doesn’t enjoy it, and actually to some degree like her. Though it’s more envious back then, as his thoughts constantly keep returning to her.
The past events are surrounded by Cardan talking with a troll that tells him the same story multiple times. It frames around his life and the events that are happening. How he starts to be the villain to get attention. How he can still get his heart broken even if he acts as he doesn’t have one. And then he learns that the “monster” that Jude has been asked to deal with in the future, is the very same troll. Only this time he tells the troll a story while he waits for Jude. How he’s accepted who he is (cruel, sharp tongue, and witty) and get the girl who can be a bit of a monster (strong, independent, and feisty).
I love the artwork of the main series on the chapter pages and part sections, so I love that in this novella almost all the pages are covered in art. Some are just flourish while others have the characters with the events that are happening. Yes it takes up the page, but I like that. I wish more books included pictures. Even Young Adult and Adult fantasy books, and not just the special or exclusive editions. I think all editions should have them. But that’s a personal opinion as I love art.
Overall, the story was short but I enjoyed it. I would go back to it to look at the artwork again. Though I don’t think it’s a must have by any means. Most of the information shared in the book are things already mentioned in the main book through dialogue. We just get the added flourish of hearing it from Cardan’s POV.
With those things in mind, I would give How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories 3 stars out of 5. I don’t know if there’s going to be any more from The Folk of the Air series, but it was nice revisiting these characters again.
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