ARC Review: The Broken Elf King (Kings of Avalier #2) by Leia Stone

ARC Review: The Broken Elf King (Kings of Avalier #2) by Leia StoneThe Broken Elf King by Leia Stone
Series: Kings of Avalier #2
Published on 6th February 2024
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 354
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
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RRP: $22.99
3 Stars

I never should have taken that loan but my aunt needed the meds and they were too expensive for me to afford by myself. Now I’ve been sold to slavery and the Nightfall Queen’s guards have found out I’m not entirely human.
I guess I’m lucky they didn’t kill me.
The next thing I know I’m transferred to the Elf King’s castle to find out that he has bought me. It will take me five years to pay off the debt but I get to be his personal assistant. Personal assistant to the king. That can’t be so bad, right?
Wrong. Oh how wrong I was.
His council has tasked me with finding him a wife before they will fund his war against the Nightfall Queen. That part should be easy, he’s rich, disgustingly handsome, and smart to boot. The problem? He’s rejecting every high born female I send his way.
The more time we spend together, the more we realize I’m not just some half elf. There is a deep power that runs through my veins, one that makes me a target. His solution?
Enter into a fake marriage with him so that he can get the council off his back and I can get some protection.
That’s a great idea, so long as I don’t fall in love with him.Should be simple enough…
The Broken Elf King is book TWO of FOUR in the Kings of Avalier series. It's a full-length standalone fantasy romance that focuses on the Elf King Raife Lightstone.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

There was a lot to enjoy in The Broken Elf King. It had a couple of tropes I was really looking forward to exploring: namely marriage of convenience and fake dating to a king. I also liked that this was Book 2 in a series of stand-alones: it meant that I didn’t have to read the first book in the series to grasp the admittedly light world-building.

I liked that the main character Kailani was smart and a bit sassy, and she didn’t seem too entitled: she was happy to work in whatever job she was given, after she was taken by slavers for going into debt saving her aunt’s life. She did end up being super special because she had not one but two incredibly rare magic powers, but these were not really explored in any way or brought anything of value to her characterisation. I also liked the love interest, the aforementioned ‘broken’ elf king Raife, and all the trauma he brought with him. He a bit hot and cold due to this, but I understood and appreciated his struggle according to his character. I liked the magic system around elfin healing, though there wasn’t enough worldbuilding to really explain the other types of magic in the book, and they just kind of came out of nowhere with little explanation or development. The banter was light and enjoyable, and the romantic pair shared some vulnerable moments together that filled in some of their backstory.

However I felt that the entire novel was too fast-paced. I don’t mean that the entire plot took one week, because it was spread out over a few months, but I mean that the actual events of the novel felt rushed through. There was little to no introspection or depth. Everything felt at a surface level only. The romantic pair were married less than halfway through the book, and yes this is a marriage of convenience so they do need to get married, but I felt that there was a distinct lack of feelings or introspection, or really anything below the surface. And while this break-neck pace of event – event – event – probably works for a lot of readers, I wanted it to slow down a bit and offer some characterisation, introspection, and plot development. I don’t necessarily think that the book itself felt rushed by the author, I just feel like there was nothing beyond the surface.

Now this is in contrast to many books I read, especially by indie authors, where a whole lot of nothing happens and then the book ends on a cliffhanger designed to make readers impulse buy the next book. This book was packed so full of events and plot points and action that it didn’t leave any time for romance or character growth. And like I said, this will work for some readers. To me, everything felt brief and skimmed over. There was so much to pack into so few pages that it felt like the characters were ricocheting from event to event with hardly any time spent on the page during the actual events making up the story. For example, Kailani and Raife visit an old friend of Raife’s and the entire visit, which is supposed to be important to the plot, takes about 4 pages, including a fistfight.

I noted during reading that the book felt like a movie that has been adapted from a book series when it should have been a TV adaptation with 1 season per book. Like The Golden Compass film was condensed but His Dark Materials the TV show was expanded and better in every way. I also noted again, that this super-fast action-based book with little character development, romantic development, or introspection works fine for some people, but I just wanted more depth.

Overall there was nothing really wrong with Stone’s writing and the book was highly readable and engaging, I just felt that her storytelling ability definitely focuses much more on action and less on reactions and the consequent character growth, and bringing any emotional depth and connection. This was sugary frosting without the actual cake. Fine for some people, but I personally would have liked a bit more balance.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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