Review of How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories [Folk of the Air]
by Holly Black; illus. by Rovina Cai
Middle School, High School    Little, Brown    192 pp.    g
11/20    978-0-316-54088-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-54082-7    $9.99

Black returns to the world of her acclaimed Folk of the Air trilogy (beginning with The Cruel Prince, rev. 1/18) in this illustrated companion volume that hinges on three chance encounters between the inscrutable elf Cardan and the troll woman Aslog. Each time they meet, they exchange a story about a boy with a heart of stone, a story that grows and changes in the retelling, even as Cardan and Aslog themselves change from meeting to meeting. Ultimately, the themes coalesce around forgiveness, redemption, and transformation. (“You didn’t get what you deserved, but you don’t have to live inside that one story forever. No one’s heart has to remain stone.”) The book works best as a character study, revealed in brief, impressionistic vignettes, helped enormously by a handsome design and lavish imagery. Cardan was a complicated love interest in the trilogy, and fans will welcome this opportunity to see what makes him tick.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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