I loved The Witch King and was both excited and anxious to read this sequel, but luckily it continued this unique, magical and emotional fantasy story with the same great humor and amazing trans rep.
The Fae Keeper continues where the first book ended, with Asalin in turmoil and with Emyr and Wyatt hunting Derek and Clarke after having abolished the corrupt Guard. Along the way, they learn new truths about the witches, Wyatt struggles to learn control of his magic and his feelings for Emyr and Briar, and they will all experience new trauma, but also love and forgiveness.
Compared to the first book, the story got even darker this time and there were some really sad and tragic moments. Many of the characters were struggling, and trying to deal with all the bad things they’ve gone through. I especially loved Wyatt’s character development; he made some true personal growth in this book and started to acknowledge his previous bad behavior and find more inner peace. His narration was still as hilarious, witty and sarcastic as in the first book though!
The relationship between Wyatt and Briar also developed a lot, with Wyatt starting to see Briar as a real person with flaws and realizing how dependent and selfish he’d been from time to time when relaying on Briar’s need to try and fix him. Their love and support for each other grew even stronger, while at the same time they gave each other some healthy room to grow as individuals.
And Emyr was just as much of a sweetheart and continued to be my absolute favorite character! I loved that we got to see more of his thoughts and feelings, and how he came to realize he was demisexual in this book. I also loved the way Wyatt described him, and how his feelings grew for Emyr, like in this quote:
“I don’t know how it’s possible for one person to be everything, but he is. Masculine and feminine, soft and strong, a leader and a partner, darkness and light.”
Just as in the first book, I really enjoyed the world building and how it pinpointed topics like racism, colonialism and systematic oppression, as well as gender. There was such a great representation, with trans, gender fluid and demisexual characters, and great discussions about gender woven into the story, like in this quote:
“Faery doesn’t have trans people?”
“Faery is not arrogant enough to assume we know everything about our children before they’ve had a chance to learn it for themselves.” She shakes her head. “There are as many genders as there are people. And each one of them comes into the language they’d like to use for themselves, in their own time.”
The first half of the book was a bit slow though, with Wyatt having internal monologues in the middle of the events going on and with some longer backstories to the fae and witches relationships as well as new creatures being introduced, but that was more than compensated in the second half when the story really upped the pace. There was also a part towards the end where several other POVs were suddenly introduced, which I’m not sure I really liked. It was an interesting attempt to tell the many parallel subplots and explain things from the other characters view, but their voices were not as distinct as I’d wished (they were all a bit too similar to Wyatt’s somehow) and it made the story sprawling and the big climax a bit difficult to comprehend. I had to reread those chapters to fully understand everything that happened. I think the ending could have been a bit fuller, or that there could have been an epilogue. As it was not, it felt a bit sudden and like there were some loose treads that could have been further explained or explored.
But all in all, even though I wasn’t as blown away by this book as I was by the first one, I truly love this magical, gripping and unique duology and recommend it with all my heart!
4.5 stars rounding up to 5
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This was such a magical, romantic and emotional fantasy, with great humor, sweet friends-to-enemies-to-lovers and found family tropes and an amazing trans rep. It’s been a long time since I wanted to read a fantasy, but this book just pulled me in from the very first page and made me love this genre all over again!
Let me start with the trigger warnings, because there are a lot of those – like violence, child abuse, suicide, misgendering, (fantasy) racism and sexual assault. But H.E. Edgmon has included such a wonderful note at the start of the book explaining how and why some content might have the potential to trigger some of the readers and why it’s important to go into the book prepared for what you might find. But still pointing out that The Witch King is not a queer pain narrative, but a story about queer hope and that it hopefully will offer the readers a bit of the same healing experience it gave H.E. Edgmon writing it.
The story follows trans witch Wyatt, who has run away from the fae kingdom to hide in the human world, but who is eventually found and has to face his traumatic past, his blood spelled destiny and the royal fiancé he left behind.
There were so many amazing characters in the story, who were all so fleshed out and deeply human, so full of flaws and internal anger, and not clearly good or bad. I really enjoyed the many grey characters and the plot twists that made you root for them, then despise them and then maybe root for them again… The main character, Wyatt, was so angry, bitter and selfish, but still managed to steal you heart. And the fiancé, Emyr, who was at first described as a fae monster (although a very hot one) soon turned into a completely sweetheart. I actually think that Emyr was my favorite character of them all, once I got to the real him. Wyatt’s found family was amazing at first and Briar was the supportive, fun and badass best friend we all want, but after learning some of their secrets I’m not sure what to think. Other than that I can’t wait to continue the series to find out more about it all!
I’m not sure how to describe the world building. It had a lot of the high fantasy parts, like faes, witches, blood spells, magic disguise and prophecies, but it still felt more like an urban fantasy somehow. Maybe because of the humor and all snarky banter, or because of the way modern technology, like laptops and cell phones, was included but didn’t ruin the magic. Either way, I loved it! I also really appreciated the way this story pinpointed topics like racism, colonialism and systematic oppression. Not to mention the amazing trans rep; it was so well done in the way it was interwoven into the story, and how Emyr immediately accepted to be engaged to a boy was really beautiful.
All in all, this was a magical fantasy romance that resonated with me on so many levels. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to continue this series. Highly recommended!
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed Aislinn Brophy AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alex Beltran Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Ali Hazelwood Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton Amanda Ferreira A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster Amy Spalding André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Ashlyn Kane Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg B.L. Maxwell Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.F. White C.G. Drews Charli Meadows Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colette Davison Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Debbie Schrack Deborah Harkness Delia Owens Deonn Tracy D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elisa A. Bonnin Elizabeth Acevedo Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett H.E. Edgmon Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray Jesse H. Reign Joelle Lynne John Green Jonny Garza Villa Julianne Donaldson Julian Winters Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Henry Lisa Williamson Lisa Wingate Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Magdalena Di Sotru Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot Morgan James M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Owen Lach Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Renée Dahlia Rhiannon Wilde Riley Hart River Braun Roan Parrish Robin Gow Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sally Rooney Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Sasha Laurens Saundra Mitchell Saxon James Serena Bell Shannon O’Connor Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophia Soames Sophie Gonzales S.R. Lane Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tal Bauer Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Terry J. Benton-Walker Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tobly McSmith Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard V.L. Stuart Wesley Chu Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez