Book Review: “The Stolen Heir” by Holly Black

Fans of Holly Black’s Elfhame saga will definitely find a lot to love about her latest novel, The Stolen Heir. In the interest of full disclosure, this writer had not read any of Black’s Prince series. However, this book is a picture-perfect introduction to the universe. It’s a wild, mostly fun journey, that’s engaging right to the end.

Enemies to Lovers, But More

Wren and Oak have an immediately compelling dynamic. Readers get to know Wren and are immediately captivated by her heartbreaking origin story. There’s such a deep heartbreak right from the beginning, watching Wren be ripped away from the only family she has ever loved. Throughout the book, Wren proves again and again that she’s no monster, however, others may perceive her. 

By contrast, Oak is someone trying to reconcile himself with his own destiny. His journey is one of self-re-discovery. He continually has to navigate who he is in this new context he’s been thrown into. The dynamic between him and Wren plays out in a beautifully endearing way. There’s a very classic lostness about both of these characters, that never overshadows their individual journies. Instead, they fit together perfectly with all of their flaws. 

Dark Embers Energy 

The Stolen Heir captures everyone who has ever participated in Girl Guides, the Embers program specifically. There is just a particular energy that accompanies groups of people on a quest, no matter what the end objective is. All the camping and traipsing through the woods is a hallmark of this right of passage. This story has the addition of mythological fairy folk that Embers love.

There are basically endless possibilities when it comes to exploring these ethereal beings. Black has given each being distinctive features that make them incredibly human. This makes them that much easier to love and relate to. This lore leaves so much to explore, and Black is the perfect guide as an author.

A Heroine’s Journey Worth Taking

At its core, The Stolen Heir is such a sweet and fun distillation of the journey archetype. The banter is quick, and the stakes are just believable enough. Even if the stakes are of the fantasy variety, they’re no less engaging. The various settings, on an earthly plane of existing or otherwise, only add to the story. It also adds to the possibilities of where the story could go next. 

Holly Black has successfully expanded her Elfhame universe. She has also provided the opportunity for new fans to enter this world. The characters are endearing. The only drawback of this book frankly is that there isn’t more of it. All the more reason to wait in anticipation, and find out what the author has in store for readers next. 

The Stolen Heir is available now. 

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