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‘The Stolen Heir’ review: Holly Black’s newest tale has teeth

By January 29, 2023No Comments3 min read

Holly Black returns to Elfhame with another chilling tale of revenge and cruelty in The Stolen Heir. In this installment, we get to explore a new part of the world with fascinating new characters.

Girl on the run

Wren grew up thinking she was a normal girl. Yes, she is adopted, but her adopted parents love her and she wants for nothing. It’s a happy life… until one day, her faerie parents show up to reclaim her. They reveal that she isn’t a normal girl: her skin is blue, her teeth are sharp, and she is a monster. Now she must live with the monsters in the Court of Teeth and become one of them. 

Fast forward several years, and Wren lives like an outlaw. She makes her bed in the middle of the woods, where she can still watch her human family and pretend to be a part of them. At the same time, she desperately tries to hold on to her humanity by releasing humans from the foolish bargains they make. Then the Prince of Elhame, Oak, shows up offering an opportunity for revenge on her scheming mother, Lady Nore. Wren has no idea if he can be trusted, but she’s willing to take the risk to bring Lady Nore down. 

The pair set off on their quest, but Wren finds it increasingly difficult to guard her heart against Oak’s charms. She knows he’s a hopeless flirt—it’s not like he’s actually fallen for her. Yet, against her will, she finds herself falling for him, despite the danger…

Comparison is a thief of joy

Inevitably, readers will compare this novel to the Folk of the Air series, and many of them will find it lacking. I, however, found it a delightful new addition to the series that fleshes out the world of Elfhame. Wren and Oak are nothing like Cardan and Jude, but why should they be? They function as their own characters with their own personal journeys. 

I deeply connected with Wren: her feelings of deep inadequacy and her desire to be loved. It’s rare to read a novel from a nonhuman perspective. The way they think is so cold and cruel, which fascinates me. Holly Black’s biting, brutally honest prose adds to this point of view. 

Oak also shines as his own well developed character. Throughout most of the book, Black keeps us guessing right along with Wren. Is he on her side, or will he betray her at any moment? He’s full of hidden surprises. Like Wren, I also can’t help falling in love with him as the story goes.

If you are a lover of faeries, especially dark ones, you will love this book. And if you loved The Folk of the Air series, please read this with an open mind–it is different, but still wonderful.

The Stolen Heir was released on January 3, 2022.

Featured image courtesy of Little, Brown Young Readers.

  • The Stolen Heir - 9/10
Abby Costello

Abby Costello has been writing for about books professionally for the past three years, but she’s been overanalyzing everything she reads and watches since day one. Seriously, don’t even bring up Beauty and the Beast. Outside of this website, she teaches 7th grade English in Northern California and works as a freelance writer on the side.

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