I absolutely adored The Folk of Air trilogy so naturally, I’ve also been reading all the additional novellas and follow on novels associated with the series. That is, however, also where I went wrong with this one because I thought it was another stand alone novel in the world, like How the King of Elfhame learned to Hate Stories and as a result, I think my expectations were a bit off vs what I got. This is the first of a duology so there is a bit more set up and character introduction: while Wren (or Suren) was already introduced in the trilogy, this novel goes much deeper into her background and is told from her perspective.
After hiding in the human world for years, barely getting by, Faerie is pulling Wren back into its politics as Oak, Jude’s little brother and heir to the throne, comes in search of her for a quest he is on. It completely makes sense why Black chose Wren as the narrator and is saving Oak for the second part of the duology given the twists and developments of this book, and yet, in ways, it also made it a bit harder for me to go along with Wren. Her distrust and actions make sense her perspective and limited views of Elfhame but as a reader, I have more context and am predisposed to be on Oak’s side. As a result, even when her decisions make sense with her limited knowledge, I was still sometimes finding myself frustrated that she didn’t just trust in Oak a bit more. Of course, we needed someone with less context as the narrator for some of the later developments but just because it logically makes sense doesn’t mean it helps my emotional wants. I’m sure Black knew this would be a struggle when she set up this story, and I think she handled it well. Still, I’m sure I will enjoy the second part more!