The Stolen Heir – A new Elfhame experience 


Raeesah Alam

The Stolen Heir was released earlier this year and is the first to Holly Black’s new series in Elfhame.

After four years of fans craving for more of their favorite Faerie fantasy universe, author Holly Black finally released the long awaited The Stolen Heir, a journey taking readers back to the comforts and delights of Elfhame and the first book in her new duology. The Cruel Prince trilogy had left an unforgettable legacy of protagonist Jude Duarte and her troublesome enemy Cardan Greenbriar that many readers found difficult to let go of. In January 2023, The Stolen Heir made its grand appearance, continuing the story of Elfhame’s royalty under the perspective of the familiar character Wren, or the runaway Queen Suren, accompanied by Jude’s very own adoptive brother and heir to the throne, Oak. 

Set nine years after the Battle of the Serpent in The Queen of Nothing, The Stolen Heir brings back unfinished business from the previous series where the reluctant prince Oak and the runaway queen Wren embark on a deadly and forbidden quest. Now 17, Oak sets out on a dangerous mission to save his villainous father Madoc, despite being prohibited by his sister the High Queen Jude, and to defeat the notorious Lady Nore who plots her ruthless revenge against Elfhame. After the Battle of the Serpent, Queen Suren, daughter of Lady Nore, had fled to the human world to take refuge from her past trauma in the loathsome Court of Teeth. Despite thinking she was forgotten, Wren found herself yet again in danger and discovered that her birth mother wanted her dead. 

Wren was the only one who had power over her mother and could truly stop her. Saved by Oak, the prince she once befriended and was betrothed to as a child, she is recruited on the risky quest along with the knight Tieran and their prisoner Hyacinth, who in fact wore the very same bridle she was forced into as a child. The journey not only forces her to re-encounter her past terrors and torments from her childhood, but also forces her into proximity with the beautiful, manipulating prince she once knew. 

Both Wren and Oak share a few similar characteristics as the beloved comfort characters Cardan and Jude. Oak and Cardan are both the sly and mischievous princes with no true desire to rule while Jude and Wren are the powerful female leads with past traumas and fire in their souls. However, at the same time they are very different. Their dynamics and relationships further set them apart. Oak and Wren shared an innocent and sweet friendship long before their reunion and were even promised to each other at a young age, while Cardan and Jude had originally completely despised each other in their series. 

Jude and Cardan’s presences were missed in the new book, only their names were mentioned but no explicit cameos were made. Though that could be disappointing to some readers who longed for more content of their favorite characters, the book also opens up a new storyline that not only brings nostalgia but also embeds a brand new satisfying experience for readers. Who knows, maybe the High Queen and King will make their appearances in the next book. Regardless, The Stolen Heir takes a compelling turn that leaves readers yet again enticed and hungering for the next book in the duology.