Book Review: Elfhame # 5

The Stolen Heir by Holly Black

Publication Date: January 3, 2023

Summary from GoodReads:

A runaway queen. A reluctant prince. And a quest that may destroy them both.
 
Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There, she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge.
 
Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, and the one person with power over her mother, fled to the human world. There, she lives feral in the woods. Lonely, and still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, she bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains. She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag, Bogdana chases her through the night streets. Suren is saved by none other than Prince Oak, heir to Elfhame, to whom she was once promised in marriage and who she has resented for years. 
 
Now seventeen, Oak is charming, beautiful, and manipulative. He’s on a mission that will lead him into the north, and he wants Suren’s help. But if she agrees, it will mean guarding her heart against the boy she once knew and a prince she cannot trust, as well as confronting all the horrors she thought she left behind.

Confession:

It was such a pleasure to return to Elfhame and to all of the wonderful plot twists that take you totally by surprise. It was also fun to see Oak all grown up, but I really wanted to see what was going on in his head, he was such a hard character to figure out.

“My greatest weakness has always been my desire for love. It is a yawning chasm within me, and the more that I reach for it, the more easily I am tricked. I am a walking bruise, an open sore. If Oak is masked, I am a face with all the skin ripped off. Over and over, I have told myself that I need to guard against my own yearnings, but that hasn’t worked.”
― Holly Black, The Stolen Heir

The book is totally told from the point of view of Wren ( Suren), and she has had such a hard life that you can’t help but feel sorry for her. She has a tremendous story arc, and she learns so much about her origins and why she has been treated the way she has. Wren is just needing some love in her life, but she is so afraid of that need that she can not except even friendship when it is given. Even though Wren is an older teen, she has the emotions of a much younger child. But she does have a lot of strengths as well. She is a survivor, and she can strategize with the best of them. She also cares about those who are suffering, and will risk everything to help them.

“My sister thinks that she’s the only one who can take poison, but I am poison,’ he whispers, eyes half-closed, talking to himself. ‘Poison in my blood. I poison everything I touch.”
― Holly Black, The Stolen Heir

I was so hoping that we would get part of this story from Oak’s point of view, as I really want to know what is going on in his head! He is such an interesting characters, being charming but also deadly at times. You can tell that he cares for Wren, but doesn’t know quite what to make of her, and he knows that he has to betray her at some point as well. Their childhood friendship is what keeps them bonded, but when they do finally admit their love for each other they will set the world on fire.

I also want to acknowledge two minor characters who played large roles in this story, Hyacinthe and Tiernan. They added much to the story, and I loved their tension when they were together and how lost they were without each other when they were parted.

“It is hard to explain the savagery of hope.”
― Holly Black, The Stolen Heir

The plot for this story was very interesting. There were lots of secrets being kept by everyone involved, and it was those secrets and the twists that kept the story interesting. I also liked the flashbacks to Wren’s childhood and some of the time that she and Oak have met over the years. The writing of course is beautiful. There were a few slow sections, put other than that it kept a good pace. There was quite the twist at the end and a bit of a cliffhanger that is making me want the second book right now!

I kind of wish that I had reread the other Elfhame books prior to diving into this one. I don’t think it is totally necessary, but there were some references to things that happened in the other books that I don’t remember. I think that I will reread all of the books once the second book in this duology is out.

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