Prince of the Sorrows by Kellen Graves

Without an academic endorsement to make him valuable to the high fey, Saffron will be sent back through the veil to the human world. The place he was born, but not where he grew up. A place he is terrified of. And while getting an endorsement shouldn’t be impossible, it’s hindered by the fact he’s edging on literate, having spent his life teaching himself to read using books stolen off of Morrígan Academy’s campus of high fey students.

When mistaken identity leads to Saffron learning the true name of brooding, self-centered, high fey Prince Cylvan, what begins as a risk of losing his life (or his tongue) becomes an opportunity to earn the life Saffron wants. In exchange for an endorsement, he and Cylvan form a geis where Saffron agrees to find a spell to strip power from Cylvan’s true name. While Prince Cylvan doesn’t know Saffron’s literacy is self-taught, and his knowledge of magic is nonexistent, Saffron is determined to meet his end of the agreement in order to remain in Alfidel– or, maybe, to remain by Cylvan’s side, as affections grow stronger every night they spend alone in the library together.

But when other human servants on campus are suddenly and inexplicably killed by an animal, Saffron realizes he may have inadvertently embroiled himself in the middle of a manipulative reach for power like he never anticipated. Not only is his future endorsement at risk, but also Cylvan’s livelihood and ability to think for himself– and Saffron will have to choose which is more important to him.

***

I received a copy of this book from the author. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

With the rise of YA and NA fae romances in the last (check’s year) decade of publishing, I’ve been waiting for a gay fae romance to finally hit my radar. While Prince of the Sorrows isn’t perfect, it definitely scratched that itch, with that damn cliffhanger leaving me wanting more.

One of my favorite things about fay/human romances is the enemies-to-lovers aspect, and Prince of the Sorrows absolutely delivers. In our opening scene, Saffron is walking through a forest and accidentally pisses off a high fey he comes across. He spends the next several chapters telling the reader how much he likes his one fae academic and would love to meet and discuss stories with together, and I was absolutely giddy with anticipation of Saffron realizing just who he’d pissed off in the woods. Cue life threats and attempts at permanent bodily harm. You know, the good stuff.

Of course, Saffron and Cylvan finally getting together were equally lovely. I enjoyed their not-library dates, Cylvan adoringly encouraging Saffron’s unquenchable thirst for the knowledge he’s been denied for so long as a human servant, beantigh, to the high fey. I did think that the two go from mutual hatred to absolute devotion a little too quickly. It felt like there was only one major event and suddenly Cylvan has absolute trust in Saffron when I wish there was a more gradual build.

The worldbuilding in this book is excellent. The story is heavily inspired by Celtic folktales and Graves really brings that to life, filled with Gaelic terminology (there’s a helpful pronunciation guide in the front). We have generations of fey lore and history, both in the magic of this world and the layers of politics entrenched in Cylan’s life. As a worldbuilding enthusiast, I wish we’d dug deeper into the court politics surrounding Cylan, but I’m hoping we’ll get to see that much more in book two.

The one thing that held me back from full enjoyment was the pacing. A common criticism I have with Fantasy Romance novels is that too much time is spent on the romance parts and not enough on the fantasy, and this book is no different. For me, the middle section of Cylvan and Saffron going on cute dates and getting to know each other dragged on for a little too long, leaving the plot bits last 20% feeling extremely rushed with the author having to cram a lot of events and important information in a short amount of time. I also wish we’d gotten more of an introduction to the major players in Cylvan’s life and why he seemed so powerless despite being the prince of this realm.

Overall, I rate this book a 3.5/5. I adored the romance and the worldbuilding of this book and absolutely cannot wait for book two. However, I though the messy pacing kept it from its full potential.


r/Fantasy 2021-22 Bingo Squares:

  • Forest Setting
  • X of Y
  • Trans/NB Character
  • Witches

Publication Date: 31 March 2022
Publisher: Self Published
Format: ebook, ARC
Pages: 393
Word Count: ~111,000
ISBN: 9798985766202
Buy It Here: Amazon | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

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