Remember in The Hobbit movie when the Mighty King Thranduil road his elk over the hillside, leading his massive army? Maybe other Tolkien Nerds were thinking how cool he looked. I was thinking, “Where are their mamas? I didn’t see any mom and dad elves back in the Merkwood. What do they eat to get all bulked up like that? C’mon, they gotta wash their hair somehow.” I remember one of the actors for the Hobbit movie saying their poo sparkled, she was joking of course.
Or was she?
Aerith is just another young elf girl trying to make it, along with her family. She’s got a lazy, self-absorbed father who’s sold off most of their beloved, deceased mother’s belongings. She has a brat sister and a sweet sister. There’s a boy who’s been her friend for ages and a boy who’s just a jerk. She goes hunting to sell meat to feed her family.
One day some really important Fae dudes show up seeking a bride for one of their princelings. But, she’s got to compete with other elf maidens for it.
Well, Aerith’s not interested. Elves who cross over to the Fae world come back and she’d miss her sweet sister, friends, and home. But not her dad, of course. Besides that, elves are looked down on by Fae. It’s not like she’d be treated like a Princess of the Blood Royal.
Nevertheless, dad insists she go.
One less mouth to feed.
Nevermind that she’s the one who’s been feeding the other mouths in the family. Daddy isn’t too bright.
So off she goes to the tournament and hopes to fail. This other pretty chick, Keerla, surely will win. But, then, aw, crap, Aerith impulsively saves Prince Cirrus’ life. Goshdarnit, didn’t mean to do that, but now it’s off to the Fae world to marry the Prince.
Turns out, she’s not so much a bride as a bodyguard though. Cirrus is nice enough and she does her best, so her family will be rewarded. Nevertheless, he’s poisened to death.
Bright side, she gets to go home. Downside, dad’s squandered all the money she made and has learned nothing from the experience. So it’s back into the trying to pawn his daughter’s game again.
At last, an invitation to the Monster Ball arrives and Daddy is ecstatic.
But Aerith isn’t the mousy girl she once was. Because she has grown from the experience.
The Monster Ball draws all sorts of supernatural creatures, elves, vampires, the Fae, were-jaguars, it’s crazy. Aerith actually enjoys herself after a while, even though she dreads meeting up with her dead husband’s murderer. She’s just an elf and he’s freakin’ Fae Royalty, after all.
At this point, we realize most of these party animals spend time on regular earth too. So they’ll mention different human things and talk rather humanish too. The bartender’s a hoot.
Nevertheless, the author has a style conducive to fairytale retellings. This one kinda reminds me of a cross between Beauty & the Beast and The Hunger Games.
Anyway, Aerith gets her groove back with a dude named Jhaervos and zip-bang he wants to marry her. Daddy is not too thrilled, because the boy’s just not rich enough to keep his party going.
Aerith tells her daddy off and I’m thinking, whoa, this is great, but what about Liri, you know the husband-killer? Where the heck is he?
In her bed.
Well, he’s not physically there, but certainly enough of a problem that Aerith’s got to figure this out. She wants to just live happily ever after in Elf lands with her new husband, maybe pop out a couple of kids if she doesn’t turn out to be infertile after all.
What’s a poor elf princess to do?
Grab your favorite sister, pawn some bling, and head for the hills, that’s what you do. Actually, you head to your fiancé’s mansion. But little sisters can be challenging to keep track of.
Also, a lusty fiancé is nice to have around, but a murderous ex-brother-in-law not so much.
Then, Liri offs the King so he can have the Crown and Aerith too, and a little peace and quiet seems a long way off. Loyalties don’t just shift, they seem to flip-flop enough to give a sweet elven princess some serious whiplash. ‘Seem to,’ those are the operative words to keep you on your toes.
I found myself feeling rushed through this story, something I tend to do as a storyteller myself. I would’ve loved for the author to take her time and tell the story about Aerith’s first time in Fae land. I think there’s a big enough story there, yet untold. If we could have seen more how and why Aerith blossomed into the strong, young widow, it would’ve packed a serious punch in motivation for the rest of the story.
Pop over to the author’s website to learn about her other stories and the rest of the series, as well as some other goodies. At this writing, the book tour is still ongoing, so definitely check out that page too.
Now reading STAR WARS QUEEN’S SHADOW by E. K. Johnston