The Prisoner’s Throne

Since the advent of The Folk of the Air series in 2018, Holly Black has held legions of YA fantasy readers in thrall to the world of Faerie: its acorn cups and everapples, redcaps and ragwort steeds, mad revels and delicate, deadly riddles. Her latest novel, The Prisoner’s Throne, is another delicious descent into the intricacies of Faerie family and politics. 

The Prisoner’s Throne is the sequel to The Stolen Heir and the final installment in the Novels of Elfhame duology, which follow the faerie Prince Oak, heir to the throne of the kingdom of Elfhame, and the Queen of the Court of Teeth, Suren, now known as Wren. 

Whereas The Stolen Heir centered primarily on Wren, this time, we delve into the storm of calculations and insecurities that swirl beneath Oak’s curling hair and curving horns. Oak finds himself Wren’s prisoner after his last misstep shattered the tentative trust they had begun to build. His imprisonment beckons war between Elfhame, which is ruled by his sister Jude, and Wren’s Court of Teeth. Oak’s loyalties are torn: On one hand, he understands his family’s anger; on the other hand, his feelings for Wren and his knowledge of her character have him convinced she is not his enemy. 

Readers will identify with Oak’s desperation for peace as well as his struggles with being a people pleaser. He is undeniably a teenage boy, complete with an overprotective mother and a tad too much angst over whether he is truly known or loved. Wren is less present in this book, but her wintry demeanor is as endearing as it was in The Stolen Heir, and her relationship with Oak retains its innocent, wistful heartbeat. The greatest charm of The Prisoner’s Throne is in the secrets that Oak must unravel, from hidden motives to conspiracies to “straightforward” questions with complicated answers. If you’ve known Oak since his Folk of the Air days, he is no longer a little prince—this is as much a coming-of-age story as it is a saga of magic and mischief.

For fans of Oak and Suren, The Prisoner’s Throne is a fraught and fitting conclusion to their tangled, wild adventures. Fans of Jude and Cardan from the first series: You will not be disappointed.


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