Wren thought she was a normal human girl until the night when scary monsters out of a nightmare came and claimed she was in fact their daughter and had to come back to Faerie with them. Lord Jarel and Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth rip away her human glamour and make sure that Wren sees her human parents reject her faerie self (bluish skin, blue hair, mouth full of razor-sharp teeth) with horror and disgust. The cruel faeries, accompanied by the fearsome Stormhag threaten the lives of Wren’s human family, and though only nine years old, Wren is forced to go with them to keep her loved ones safe.
In the Court of Teeth, she is Queen Suren, but queen in name only. She is kept captive and tortured both physically and emotionally until she’s barely a shell of her former self and an angry, vicious feral child. Her faery parents keep her literally chained and controlled with a magic bridle and their plan is to marry Suren to Prince Oak, heir to the Greenbriar Throne, and then have him (and probably Wren/Suren) murdered, so they can be High King and Queen. Their plan fails spectacularly, High Queen Jude publicly chops off the head of the giant serpent that used to be her husband and saves not only High King Cardan but increases his power and their joint hold on Elfhame. During the brief time of negotiations and attempted betrayals, Wren/Suren gets to know Prince Oak a bit better. He doesn’t seem scared of her and treats her with kindness, but after the Battle of the Serpent, as it comes to be known, Suren is still forced back to the now disbanded Court of Teeth, with Jude having ordered that henceforth Lady Nore and Lord Jarel need to obey all of Suren’s commands. Terrified and despondent that she couldn’t find safety in the High Court, Wren basically nopes out and runs away to the human world, living homeless in the woods and trying to engage with Faerie as little as possible.
At nineteen, Wren survives by foraging for food in the woods, eating leftovers she finds in rubbish bins, or stealing food from the house of her un-family (what she has learned to call her human family), who she’s unable to let go of. She can never forget the horrified reaction of her parents (even though she now knows they were spelled to react so badly) and she fears that they or her former sister would react just as badly if they saw her again. Nevertheless, she keeps creeping around their house, breaking in when they’re asleep. Wren has discovered she has the power to dissolve spells and curses if she works hard enough, so she tends to try to save foolish humans from faerie curses when she’s able.
Then one night, the Stormhag is coming for her, and to her surprise, the one who rescues her is none other than Prince Oak, all grown up and very formidable. He claims to need her help, as Lady Nore has reclaimed power in the North, now using dark magic to animate hideous creations from sticks, snow, and the body parts of the dead. She’s clearly building an army and will be looking to Elfhame for revenge and conquest. As the deeply reluctant heir to the throne, Oak has spent his adolescence making himself into the perfect target for all the assassins coming for the royal family. He’s taken it upon himself to stop Lady Nore and rescue his captured father, former Grand General Madoc. He needs Wren, as she is the only one with the power to control her mother.
Full review here.