The Stolen Heir by Holly Black (The Stolen Heir Duology; 1)

“I basically read this in a day.”

Review by Erin Phillips

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.

Release Date: 1/3/2023

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Pages: 356

I basically read this in a day. Why did wait so long to read it even though I preordered it and it arrived the day it came out? Because I love the Folk of the Air series and I was CONVINCED this book would not live up to the previous trilogy. I was certain it was just going to be a huge letdown.

But I almost think I love it more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with Jude, but Oak and Wren make for such compelling characters and I loved both of them from beginning to end. It was so fun having two characters who have such great potential for power and yet they want none of it trying to save the world and rescue someone who doesn’t deserve such mercy. Just entirely enchanting.

And different from Carden and Jude, Oak and Wren’s relationship (while complicated and slow-burn) doesn’t have the same edge of toxicity, lending itself to the hope of a more wholesome romance.

Also, it was SUPER fun to just have Oak as a main character. Especially knowing his backstory, it was really fun to see more of the mortal world fused with the fae world in this book than in the previous trilogy.

I also really enjoyed all the lore and storytelling weaved into this one. It reminded me of How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories.

Plus, as always, the twists were AMAZING, the prose was MESMERIZING, and the overall story was INCREDIBLE. I kept seeing beautiful quotes I loved, but I was too intoxicated with the story to want to stop reading and write them down. Seriously, just so much fun from beginning to end and I cannot believe I have to wait until next March to read book 2…but I may just need to reread the original trilogy to appease my appetite for Holly Black’s magical stories.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Ratings:

Action & Gore:

Rating: 3 out of 10.
3. Mild action (common injuries with some detail). 

Romance & Spice:

Rating: 2 out of 10.
2. Mild content (no spice, just mildly sweet/clean romance; mild kissing)

Cursing & Vulgarity:

Rating: 5 out of 10.
5. Infrequent, moderate cursing (mild cursing paired with 2/3 strong words. Think PG-13).

Other Trigger/Content Notices:

Content: References to LGBTQ+ but nothing substantial. 1 F word.

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