‘How The King Of Elfhame Learned To Hate Stories’ (review and my fav. art)

*cue fangirl screaming*

Name: How The King Of Elfhame Learned To Hate Stories

Author: Holly Black

Illustrator: Rovina Cai

Published: 2020

I can’t find a good blurb for this book – none of them properly express just how gorgeous this book is. I’m worried this post won’t be able to either.

(Another reason I’m worried is because I can’t find any of my notes, but I’m sure I’ll manage haha).

In case you’re confused, How The King Of Elfhame Learned To Hate Stories is a (heavily) illustrated novella to accompany the Folk Of The Air series by Holly Black. I’d recommend that you check out my review of the first book, ‘The Cruel Prince’, here and read the book! or this might not make much sense! It’s one of my favourite fantasy series and I highly recommend them.

Anyway, this book gives the unheard narrative of Cardan’s side of the series. The stories are taken from before, during and after the Folk Of The Air but they had similarities running through them that made it feel more like a novella than a collection of stories. Plus, it describes Fairyland from the perspective of someone who couldn’t be more accustomed to its ways. Jude, the narrator of the other books, is brought into the world by her parents’ murderer aged seven (I know), yet Cardan has been raised there since birth as the son of the King. It meant an slightly different interpretation of the world that he calls home, compared to one Jude grew to hate.

Some might think of him as a strong draught, burning the back of one’s throat, but invigorating all the same. 

You might beg to differ. 

So long as you’re begging, he doesn’t mind a bit.


I loved watching Jude and Cardan fall in love all over again. Their relationship is so messy and complicated and gorgeous; this book reminded me why they’re one of my OTPs. But, it wasn’t just the first book from the perspective of the love interest (*cough* MIDNIGHT SUN *cough*). Maybe I should have read the series again before reading this, as there were a few characters I had to think back to remember? But the main thread through the stories was that of Cardan meeting with this troll woman, and learning to hate stories. Obviously. There was a sense of repetition throughout these meetings that made it feel fairy tale-esque (as I’m sure was the point ha), and the illustrations that accompanied it changed subtly with every addition to the story, which made me smile.


Gold and royalty and cruelty, the rich fantasy of the Folk of the Air trilogy was captured so well. Often I find books with illustrations childish… and the other times I think that they look good, the characters look nothing like in my head. Heh, nOt tHiS TiMe! it was the attention to detail that made it: I’d think one was okay, look more closely and find my favourite yet. All the illustrations were quietly gorgeous, the colour schemes quite muted, but little things all added together to create a vibrant painting of this world.

The troll woman was actually terrifying (look right) and Jude wansn’t too glamourous which I liked. Often in fanart, I think that she looks too perfect – you can’t forget that SHE’S A WOMAN WITH A SWORD. Cardan was his hauty self (they’re the textbook definition of a bisexual’s worst nightmare haha) and I like how a small tilt of his body could change his whole demeanour. Rovina Cai is infinitely talented. So without further ado, here are my favourites!

They aren’t spoiling anything, but if you want to save the illustrations for your first read, skip this next bit.

Zoom in, you can see the arrogance splashed across his face. And she has a sworddddd

I love how absorbed Cardan is in the book (maybe he doesn’t hate stories after all…)

In my head all the palaces were quite cramped and underground (I don’t know why either) but the sheer size and elegance of this room messed with my head.

Cardan in the human world: what ees dees strange piece of dough

Which one is your favourite?

Honestly, I don’t want this world to end. I haven’t read The Modern Fairy Stories (know what I’m asking for for Christmas) and I think that there is an ebook novella somewhere? If anyone could clear that up in the comments I would be very thankful 🙂 How The King Of Elfhame Learned To Hate Stories was a beautiful addition to this world and perfect for fans of fantasy.

And fans of sword wielding girls and their angsty boyfriends 🙂

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Published by Hundreds&Thousands

I’m a teenager (and a Hufflepuff) from Manchester. I like oversized jumpers, music that isn't on the radio anymore and books. Pretty much any book I can get my hands on but my favourites are Young Adult, fantasy and science fiction. One day, I decided to share some of my opinions on some great - and not so great - books to people around the world. And here it is! I really enjoy it and I hope you do too. The aim is hundreds and thousands of book reviews (see what I did there?) but I’m not quite up to that. Yet.

16 thoughts on “‘How The King Of Elfhame Learned To Hate Stories’ (review and my fav. art)

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