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How The King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black & Rovina Cai

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.

My thoughts:

When I found out we were going to get another book in The Folk of Air series, I was beyond excited, and then I found out it was going to be like a young adult illustrated story book? Well, consider me sold. How The King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a gorgeous book from start to finish – from Holly Black’s storybook writing to Rovina Cai’s beautiful illustrations, this book has it all.

Thank you so much to Hot Key Books YA for gifting me a lovely finished copy! I’d like to add a little disclaimer that while I’m now officially an ambassador for them – which is so surreal and amazing – all thoughts are 100% my own and I’m all about honesty here, so rest assured, I’ll be just as unbiased as ever.

This book works so well precisely because of how short and whimsical it is and the illustrations tie in so well, it’s very much evocative of the type of storybooks you may have read as a child. Holly Black’s writing style lends itself so well to this type of book / format and I could honestly get more books like this from her and I’d be perfectly happy. I liked how each chapter is like a little vignette almost, providing more of an insight into Cardan’s mind as well as new content we haven’t seen before. It really fleshes out the world of Elfhame more and brings it to life in vivid colour. I also loved the little bits where Cardan is in the mortal world, spoiler: he tries Boba and I died a little.

I can’t even express how much I loved the artwork, Rovina Cai’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the prose and I loved the feeling of wonder, which turning each page and seeing the characters and settings gave me. It’s not common to see books, especially Y/A with illustrations so I actually really enjoyed this book for precisely that reason.I don’t know who decided that teen readers or even adults don’t enjoy this but I feel like this type of book should be way more common. I liked the fact that this book does something unique in this regard, making it a mixed medium work of art. I have to include some pictures of some of my favourite pages below because I’m in awe.

Overall, How The King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is a book I will definitely cherish and keep on pride of place on my shelf for years to come. If like me, you read and were obsessed with The Folk of Air trilogy, I think you’ll really enjoy this book and the chance to dive back into the world of Elfhame and into the mind of our resident faerie king.

One thought on “How The King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black & Rovina Cai

  1. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy books, so I haven’t read The Folk of Air trilogy, but I am trying to expand my horizons haha
    I love the illustrations in this book & YA & adult books should include more illustrations!

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