The story starts in the human world, with the brutal murders of the parents of 3 young children. Vivienne (Vivi) is half Faerie, her biological father Madoc has finally hunted down his ex wife and slaughtered her and her husband. As well as Vivi he also takes her younger twin sisters Jude and Taryn; whisking them all to Faerie.
Fast forward 10 years; Vivi misses everything about the human world she was forced to leave behind, and despises all the pomp and circumstance of the the Court her father is a part of. whereas Jude and Taryn are desperate to fit in and be a part of Faerie life. Madoc is the High Kings General and a very big part of court life.
Jude and Taryn both love Faerie and remember very little of their human life; being only 7 when they where stolen away. Their relationship with Madoc is quite complex, the both want to please him and seek his approval in all that they do, particularly Jude, a reflection I think of the darkness she carries.
I don’t want to talk much about Taryn, let’s just say she is weak and content to get through her day with as little as conflict as possible, regardless of the humiliation she suffers.
Jude on the other hand is fierce and brave, her dream is to become a knight. However at school she is the victim of Prince Cardan’s incessant cruel taunts and bullying, a lot of which is pretty physical. She’s stuck in a world where she is constantly trying to prove herself worthy of simply living among the Fey. As much as Jude has to put up she doesn’t cower like Taryn but fights back every time and I love her for this “If I cannot be better than them, I will become much worse.”
While Jude is busy trying to prove herself at school as a worthy human. The High King is abdicating and passing the crown to Prince Dain.
This is where the real story begins. After taking part in a tournament Jude gets noticed for her swordplay, strength and fighting. Shortly after this Prince Dain recruits her to his Court of Shadows as a spy, but of course it’s not because she’s proved herself worthy but because of her very human trait of being able to lie, something impossible for the Faerie filk to do.
Jude is soon swept up in the politics and intrigue of the Court, she learns of deceit, betrayal and secrets within her own family. The coronation is quickly approaching and Jude is in the thick of it. After years of being a mere mortal human she suddenly holds so much power, with impossible choices. Suddenly the fate of Elfhame and surrounding strongholds is in her hands....what will she do?
This was the first book I’d read about Faeries and the Fey. I absolutely loved it. Holly Black is a wonderful writer. Her world building was fantastic, and character development the best. I’ve since ordered everything Holly Black has written about Faeries!! It’s going to be a long wait for book 2.
And what a beautiful book! The cover, the map and the chapter headings were stunning