Normally when I do reviews, I do one book at a time in a series unless it’s Ruby Dixon’s books as I marathon the entire series and combine them all into one review. Usually, due to the fact, they are short and my opinion doesn’t vary from book to book. However, The Fair Isle Trilogy by Tessonja Odette I’m combining as I got all three books combined under one paperback book. So, I figured I might as well share the review of each individual book altogether with my overall thoughts at the end.
The three books in this trilogy are: To Carve a Fae Heart, To Wear a Fae Crown, and To Spark a Fae War. It’s described to be “an enemies-to-lovers fantasy, perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince, ACOTAR, and The Iron King. If you like snarky fae, brooding fae royals, sizzling romance, and fierce heroines, you’ll love this breathtaking fae fantasy.” I believe this book came up in my related books on Amazon while I was adding new books to my TBR list. Though I might be mistaken. It very well could’ve been on TikTok with someone’s enemies-to-lovers recommendations. Either way, I got the combined trilogy as it seemed like something I would enjoy considering I liked two of the books it was suggested with.
While I mainly read the book on Kindle Unlimited, I do have the physical copy of the completed trilogy. The digital pictures included later in the post are from Kindle Unlimited but they are also included in black & white in the physical copy of the book.
Every young woman dreams of marrying a king.
Everyone except for me.
Because the king I am to wed has razor sharp fangs and a thirst for blood…
The Fair Isle Trilogy is a complete series collection, featuring three full length novels in a single volume: To Carve a Fae Heart, To Wear a Fae Crown, and To Spark a Fae War.
All my life I knew I’d come of age during the Hundred Year Reaping. According to the ridiculous treaty, two human girls are sent to the faelands as brides for the fearsome fae king and his devilish younger brother.
Not me. I was supposed to be safe. Two girls were chosen from my village already. But when they are executed for offending the king, my sister and I are sent in their place.
What a mess. Then again, maybe it’s not so bad. The younger brother I’m paired with doesn’t seem as monstrous as I’d expected. He’s delightfully handsome too. But nothing compares to the chilling, dangerous beauty of the fae king. And when my sister flees the castle and her terrifying husband-to-be, I’m left to marry him instead.
If I go through with this, I might not survive my wedding night. If I don’t, no one is safe, neither human nor fae. An ancient war will return, bringing devastation we haven’t seen in a thousand years. Can I sacrifice myself for the good of my people? Or will a dangerous desire be the death of me first?
If I don’t lose my heart, the king will certainly lose his. I’ll carve it out with an iron blade if I have to.
- Published: June 24, 2021 (combined trilogy)
- To Carve a Fae Heart: May 20, 2020
- To Wear a Fae Crown: August 31, 2020
- To Spark a Fae War: December 31, 2020
- Page Count: 816 pages
- Genre: YA Fantasy and Folklore
Considering I’m exploring each of the books in the series, there will be spoilers. I don’t think there’s a way around talking about each book while neglecting details from them. Plus, my thoughts usually stray more towards “let me share every little thought about elements” instead of “here’s a basic opinion on themes and settings.”
This means this post is going to be long as I’m writing each book segment after I finish that book.
To Carve a Fae Heart
Forced to marry a cruel fae king, Evelyn Fairfield must do what it takes to fulfill the treaty and keep her people safe. But can she do her duty without losing her heart?
The first book in the trilogy shows how Evelyn goes from being an apprentice surgeon to suddenly being engaged to a fae prince named Cobalt, and her sister engaged to King Aspen. However, Aspen specifically requested her name after a brief encounter at the wall that made him want Evelyn. But this is not revealed until later, as Amelie is paired with the King due to birth order by the autumn court advisor Foxglove.
We get introduced to the fae courts of this story through Cobalt. There are the Celestial (Lunar, Star, Solar), Elemental (Earthen, Wind, Fire, and Sea), and Seasonal (Spring, Summar, Autumn, and Winter) courts. King Aspen reigns over the Autumn Court, while his mother is the Queen of the Sea Court and it was her changing sides from Unseelie (natural, animalistic fae) to Seelie (civilized fae) after the birth of Aspen since he was born Seelie. And she needed help to nurse him as a babe. She later had another son named Cobalt, who was raised by Aspen, not their mother. So, while he is completely sea court, he only knows autumn court as home. And claims to only want what’s best for the fair isle.
The sisters Evelyn and Amelie Fairfield are from Sableton with Amelie being the eldest, and the books taking place from Evelyn’s POV. They were not initially chosen in the reaping but two other sisters from their village. But they were put to death after committing treason against Aspen (they tried to kill him in his bed chambers after attempting to seduce him together). We also learn that there is more to the war than Evelyn was taught growing up.
She courts Cobalt in preparation for what’s to come, and like most fae she eats a fruit that makes her blackout. When she comes to she’s in a forest by herself and gets tricked by a kelpie, who attempts to kill her. Something she’s only saved from by Cobalt. But she remained unconscious for days, and when she wakes she finds out her sister is in love with someone who is not the King then vanishes the following day. Only to be told that her sister has been killed, which is later revealed to be false.
It’s around this point when she’s not forced to go through the marriage with Aspen that Cobalt seems to be off. His interactions are that of a jealous brother and less of someone who shares concern over Evelyn. Though it’s not revealed until later. Though he doesn’t exactly hide that detail either. And he’s the one that Amelie fell for before having her hand over her ability to lie and convinces her to help him take the crown from Aspen. However, he is stopped by Evelyn when she bests him in a contest. His red flags that became clear to me during the book, that Evelyn doesn’t pick up on were:
- Told her not to go through with the bonding ritual, something that is needed for the treaty to be intact between humans and fae. A process in which they give each other their true name, which gives the other full control of the other. This is more using the phrase “true name” instead of their full name.
- Constantly trying to turn Evelyn against Aspen, and mentioning how unstable he is. Though Aspen has reasons for everything he did, which he explained to Evelyn. His changing sides politically is to maintain balance between unseelie and seelie, not because he has conflicting views. He just wants to prevent the two sides of fae from eliminating the other and maintaining peace.
- Avoiding questions about what happened to the first individuals who were chosen in the Hundred Year Reaping.
- Amelie was way more into Cobalt and was trying way too hard to talk him up. Plus, she was giving him heart eyes after Evelyn wakes from her incident with the kelpsie.
- Speaking of the damn kelpsie, he gave Evelyn the fruit that is known to make humans hallucinate and lose their minds. He also lets her leave their picnic claiming to have fallen asleep after giving her a promise to never hurt her directly. Which doesn’t mean he can’t indirectly harm her. Something I’ve learned to pick up reading so many fae books where fae can’t lie. They like to double-talk to careful wording.
Though she’s done the fae aspects of the treaty, she still has yet to marry Aspen. So, it’s not all set in stone yet. Not to mention, the book closes with their relationship being deemed invalid for the treaty. This means the treaty no longer stands between fae and humans since the humans also aren’t accepting Cobalt and Amelie (possibly, it doesn’t exactly say that). So, war is coming to the Fair Isle from the look of it. I’ll be curious to see where the next book goes considering Cobalt got away with Amelie, and they have made every intention of wanting the Autumn Court rule from Aspen. Even if the All of All (fae god) deemed Evelyn and Aspen the winners of the throne.
The relationship between the sister is undoubtedly broken. Evelyn acts in the interest of her sister, but her sister acts only for herself. As evident by her going through the mating and bonding ritual with Cobalt, running away to feign death, and pretending to be Evelyn to convince Aspen that Evelyn left him after they slept together but before they can do the bonding ritual. Not to mention, Amelie leaves Evelyn to die in the coral caves with the rising tide. She only managed to survive by tricking a kelpie and completed the bonding ritual with Aspen after telling him what happened. Again, something I’ll be curious to see what happens next since she used Aspen’s true name against him in order to be named champion against Cobalt when the challenge occurred for the crown.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars.
To Wear a Fae Crown
Evelyn was supposed to despise the king, not fall in love with him. And when the human and fae councils turn against her and her beloved, she has so much more to fight for…and more to lose.
The second book occurs immediately following the end of the previous, there is no time jump after the events. It’s the same moment the prior book left off. Evelyn learns from Foxglove that she is part fae, which is why the union between Aspen and Evelyn nor Cobalt and Amelie work to secure the treaty. But she doesn’t believe it to be true unless she hears it from her mother. Fearing the worse she makes Aspen promise to go through with the council decision that he must take another bride if she does not return from her trip to the human side of the wall. But the two have a very strained relationship especially after what occurred towards the end of the previous book.
When Evelyn goes to see her mother, she learns her mother is the daughter of the exiled King of Fire responsible for the war that created the treaty. Thus making Evelyn a quarter-fae. She also discovers she does have magic, which includes healing. Something she’s done multiple times in the past without realizing it. So, any chance of getting out of being exiled or her mother’s execution for concealing this knowledge is gone. Initially, Evelyn accepts her fate of waiting for her mother’s trial so they can be exiled, but events happen that force her to confront the truth.
Evelyn soon finds herself in the Lunar Court where she is made aware she by birthright can take the Fire Court crown. She already got the All of All to approve of her once. She just needs to step into the role of the Unseelie Queen of Fire. While she is initially reluctant to lean into the role, she eventually agrees to do so. Especially after the Council of the Elven Courts is disbanded following Aspen regretting to marry the third set of chosen. And the discovery that the Queen of the Sea was murdered by Cobalt using an iron dagger that was stolen from Evelyn. While Aspen comes to the Lunar Court after losing the Autumn Court (temporarily as he’s the Unseelie King there), the two don’t reconcile until the day of her mother’s trial. Where he learns that Evelyn planned to bargain with the human council to change the treaty. However, this does not work and her mother is killed. She manages to escape with Aspen and later reveals her full plan.
Afterward, she meets with the Unseelie fire fae in the Lunar Court to attempt to win them over to her side. However, the current King of Fire arrives and forces her to challenge him for the throne. This only occurred after Evelyn tricked the human counselor to name her Unseelie Queen of Fire, which dissolved the treaty. Evelyn learns how to shift into her Unseelie form (a firefox with tri-colored flames) and battles the king before ultimately winning.
The book concludes with Amelie arriving at the Lunar Court stating that she escaped Cobalt and he forced her to do everything. As an act of good faith, Amelie gives Evelyn the power of her true name. However, Evelyn leaves Amelie imprisoned. And honestly, I can’t say I blame her. Her sister is much like Taryn in The Folk of the Air. She double plays her sister, thinks only of herself, betrays her sister, and unlike Taryn had a hand in their mother’s death by not coming to the trial as she was supposed to. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next book between the two since Amelie wants Evelyn to help her kill Cobalt since he no longer cares for her since he married another. Seriously, Amelie has serious Taryn vibes. The only thing she’s missing is being pregnant and killing Cobalt herself. Granted, she likely can’t directly kill him due to the fact they are bonded.
Speaking of bonds, I’m very curious about the fact Aspen and Evelyn can communicate on an ethereal level, which apparently other bonded mates can’t do. So, I really want to know what allows them to do this. Though I have a feeling it’s just going to be written off as a bond thing with no further explanation. But considering how Evelyn tries to find logic in everything, I hope she explores it.
I’m curious where the next book is going to go. Evelyn is now the Queen of Fire and the treaty with the humans is broken. Not to mention, the fae above the wall are headed for civil war between the Seelie and Unseelie. While I know the next book is going to focus on that, I have no clue how it’s going to work out. Though there are alliances between six out of eleven courts, leaning towards the Unseelie cause with Evelyn and Aspen on the Unseelie side. But according to the Fire King before his death, new Seelie royals were put in place in four of those courts (previously five but Evelyn is now the only ruler of Fire). So, how much each side has in their support is up for debate.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars.
To Spark a Fae War
With the truth of Evelyn’s heritage exposed, the line between friend and foe is blurred. War looms and only she can stop it…or start it. Evelyn and her mate must make a final stand against the force that threatens the lives of everyone they love.
The final book starts off a short while after Evelyn has become the Fire Queen, she took off to destroy the Briar House (a place she was threatened to become a whore in exchange for her life by the council before her mother was killed) and to kill the individual responsible for her mother’s death. Of course in true Evelyn style, she does this alone and makes Aspen promise not to use the bond to find or follow her. The connection between the two is just that, the bond. While it would’ve been interesting to see it as something more, it’s not. But it is extremely rare as they are the only bonded mates who are able to use it to communicate with each other and visit the other on an ethereal level.
After Evelyn destroys the Briar House, she returns to Lunar Court where it begins the running joke of the book that Aspen and Evelyn are interrupted every time they try to have sex. Either someone walks in on them, or stops them from getting any further. It kind of was funny as those it was a running gag in the book, it didn’t feel overplayed. Each occurrence was unique, and Aspen was beyond embarrassed multiple times. Especially once when his pants were down. Considering the number of almost times there was sex in the book, any that did occur were always fade to black. So, do not be expecting any of that in this series. It’s not there.
The book mainly focuses on the war on two fronts: Seelie (Renounced) vs Unseelie (Alpha Allegiance) and humans vs fae. Spring and Star end up switching sides right as Evelyn is about to reclaim the Fire Palace, where we meet a djinn named Fehr (later love interest of Foxglove). And they confirm a massive slash of iron weapons, as well as later discovering a star bomb after humans attempted to raid the palace. We also learn about Chariots that were created by the Star Queen, which are good for only two uses a day. Those two things (star bomb and chariot) become focal plot points throughout the rest of the book with the war. As well as a lot of stress and argument over how to handle the star bomb. Ultimately, they decide to transmute the bomb into protection to block all humans from entering or leaving fae borders.
However, this becomes an issue when Evelyn is kidnapped alongside Amelie. During their escape, the council manages to get a hold of her Chariot and the star bomb. Making their plan impossible and the total destruction of the island a very real possibility. During this escape, the Renounced are defeated as Cobalt dies trying to protect Amelie from a grenade so she doesn’t get her revenge. And only one real queen remained alive on the Renounced side, so they surrender to the Alpha Allegiance. A few days later, Evelyn makes an agreement with the humans, that the entire Fair Isle will become fae rule provided they surrender in order for their protection. The humans agree to this as the King decides no humans but the few elite are worth saving. This sets them to plan how to accomplish such a feat. As the earthen fae cannot build a wall around the entire island fast enough nor complete the wall in a few days’ time.
However, this is where Fehr comes in. Provided Evelyn frees him from his servitude, he’ll build the wall around the island as well as destroy the barrier wall. Djinn is one of the most powerful faes, so he would be able to accomplish such a task. Most of the other leaders aren’t for this, but Evelyn agrees and releases him without extracting a bargain in exchange. Due to this action, she also learns how to get rid of a bond between herself and Amelie. Something she no longer feels the need for after everything that happened to them. Amelie proved her trustworthiness and helped Evelyn confront her guilt and despair over their mother’s death. It was a really sweet moment between Amelie and Evelyn when she released her from that bond. And you can see their relationship repaired over the course of the book. It wasn’t sudden by any means, so no aspect felt forced. And the grief/guilt was realistic that Evelyn went through. She had a lot to comes to terms with in regards to her mother’s death and Amelie. So, it was nice to see how that all played out.
I won’t ruin the end of the series, but it was a bittersweet ending. Everything was wrapped up nicely but still left room with some characters if the author wanted to come back to the Fair Isle, which appears to be the case as Entangled with Fae is a spin-off series. However, Aspen’s and Evelyn’s story is complete. Most of the characters directly tied to these two seemed to find a place for themselves (Foxglove with Fehr, Amelie with dressmaking, etc.) in a world where the humans and fae aren’t separated. What the island looks like as far as courts at this point is unknown. There’s not a lot mentioned on what the post-war Fair Isle looks like, nor how everything functions. That part didn’t get included in the ending of the book. The war basically ends then we get an epilogue a year in the future of a fantasy vision Aspen told Evelyn about after the star bomb had been stolen. Maybe we’ll get more of that information in the spin-off series, but somehow I doubt it.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Overall Thoughts on Trilogy
I really enjoyed this series. I stayed up almost every night over the weekend reading this series. I couldn’t put it down. I’ll probably return to reading these books at some point in the future. Though I wouldn’t say they broke into my favorite series of all time list, which is why it does go into that 4 to 5-star range. But it’s really close to there.
While the series was described as enemies-to-lovers (which it does start out with to an extent but it’s by no means the main focus), I would say The Fair Isle is more in line with The Folk of the Air (The Cruel Prince) series in that it’s more about politics. Hell, a lot of elements between the two are similar. Though not identical in a way where I feel like I’m reading the same series twice (example: Shadow and Bones and The Empirium Trilogy). The series almost entirely revolves around the politics between humans, Seelie, and Unseelie fae. Along with a treaty that was created over a thousand years prior to the beginning of the books. While Jude in The Folk of the Air was a Slytherin (ambition her dominating trait), Evelyn is a Ravenclaw (intelligence and logic being her dominating traits). It was interesting to see a similar concept but from two very different personality types. And the sisters make peace with each other over a longer period of time. They reflect Jude and Taryn, but how they handle situations is altered. Amelie doesn’t kill Cobalt as she wanted, and she’s not immediately forgiven by Evelyn. Not that Jude immediately forgave Taryn, but they repaired their relationship real quick in comparison to Evelyn and Amelie.
I am going to be reading more books from this author in the future. Tessonja Odette has another series called Entangled with Fae (spin-off from this series as mentioned), which includes standalone books of various fairytale retellings from Cinderella, A Beauty and the Beast, and A Little Mermaid (coming soon) using characters from this same world. I don’t think those are immediately next on what I’m reading, but I plan on eventually getting to them as I enjoyed The Fair Isle Trilogy. I think after this I’m going to circle back to A Heart So Fierce and Broken and The Atlas Six. Both of which I already started, but got distracted at one point or another to read other books when I got Kindle Unlimited. Though you never know, I read whatever I’m in the mood for.
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