23 Sept 2022

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: A DEAL WITH THE ELF KING by Elise Kova

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!


Author: Elise Kova
Series: Married to Magic #1
Source: Audiobook via Audible
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Publication Date: November 6, 2020

The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.

Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella's village to be their Human Queen.

To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she's dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town's only healer.

That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives... for her.

Everything Luella had thought she'd known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.

The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another... but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted.

A Deal with the Elf King is a complete, stand-alone novel, inspired by the tales of Hades and Persephone, as well as Beauty and the Beast, with a "happily ever after" ending. It's perfect for fantasy romance fans looking for just the right amount of steam and their next slow-burn and swoon-worthy couple.

Trigger Warnings: drug use

This is less of a Hades & Persephone retelling and more of an "inspired by" with Beauty & the Beast elements as well. It was very reminiscent of ACOTAR (which I only got two or three chapters into), which was fine but didn't keep me hooked. The romance was just okay to me and I would have preferred this to be a bit longer to give us some more nuanced understanding of the characters, their motivation, and then truly root and care for them as they continued in their journey.

I didn't really see a retelling of Beauty and the Beast or Hades & Persephone, although I did get elements from both stories out of this. I did like those elements and the way they worked together but I will admit to hoping for a bit more of an actual retelling instead of an inspiration. That's not to say there's anything wrong, I did enjoy the book overall but I will admit to that slight disappointment.

Overall, Luella was an alright main character. I liked that she started looking for a way to end the cycle and questioning what had been done. Although I didn't like the way she started with the "I have to leave to know it's real". It felt like that thought process came out of nowhere and I spent a lot of the last 80ish pages rolling my eyes at her (I was also rolling them at Eldas but we're not talking about him yet). I did like the way Luella wanted to help out at the castle and how she befriended Willow and Rinni and even seems to have started something with Harrow. 

Like Luella, overall Eldas was intriguing. I did find myself feeling sorry for him and the fact that he'd been so isolated because of being the heir and everything that had happened with his mother (do not like her and her attitude BTW). I loved when he took her to the cottage and the way he talked about doing it because it was something he'd thought she'd like (granted it was also because of the rejuvenating stuff but he still thought about something she'd like).

I did wish there'd been a little more about his relationship with Alice; it felt like things were building to something between them, even if it was just friendship but then there was nothing. There was talk of how he'd kind of found a refuge with her and he talked about her favorite tea but it felt like that line was just randomly dropped for some reason. While I think Rinni talking about things helped, I kind of found myself wishing that there'd been a conversation in the similar vein between Eldas and Luella. Similar to Luella, I found myself kind of rolling my eyes at him at the end, although it wasn't as much as I was eye-rolling Luella. He was closing himself off because that was all he knew to do, even if it was because he was scared of feeling something real.

Their romance felt forced - and I think part of that is because I'm so used to Kova's writing and romances being over the course of many books, the ups and downs felt a bit like whiplash in this book. I almost wish this was a full series instead of a standalone so that we could get more from each of the pairings.

For a Hades & Persephone "retelling," and the fact that this is more New Adult than Young Adult, I was hoping for a little bit more from this one. A bit more grittiness, a bit more romance, and a bit more worldbuilding. However, if you're looking for a good standalone that won't take too much time to finish, this is the book for you!

Have you read this book? What was your favourite part?

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