The Hawthorne Throne: The Unseelie Prince – Kaitlyn Abdou
The Folk have never shied away from taking what they want. Legends speak of Faeries stealing people from their beds, swapping infants with changelings, and impregnating women they find beautiful. You should never trust them, though they cannot lie. Eat their food, and you may never see home again.
Noah Reid has spent his life seeking normalcy after a turbulent childhood with a superstitious mother who refused to answer questions about the father he never knew, and instead, attempted to impress upon him a real fear of Faeries.
Despite his mother’s best efforts, Noah finds himself ripped from the life he knows and thrust into a palace of nightmares. Here, he must face the persistent attention of the Regent and discover the shocking truth his mother took to her grave.
Fàilte air ais, a Naoise. Welcome home…
Content Warning: This novella contains dark subject matter.
I think I’ve gone about this the wrong way. I came in blind, was enchanted by the Liam Taylor’s narration and kept expecting a fairy tale where the human snapped out of the spell and/or was saved at the nick of time. But nooo, Noah or Naoise continued to be mesmerized by the Regent, seduced by sex and just walked blindly into the trap until it was too late. So no happy endings here. There is also a taboo aspect, incest, which some might find disturbing.
Majority of the novella is Noah having his brain addled and there is actually very little happening outside of the seductions. What very little that happened provided some conflict to the story, where the council questions and reacts to the Regent’s actions. A cursory glance would find the whole thing lacking in substance. However, the underlying story is actually quite compelling.
The heir to the Hawthorn Throne of the daoine sìth was found and ready to be crowned but the Regent is determined to stay in power. The heir, Noah, is half human so he is susceptible to glamour. The Regent, Fearghas, used this to his advantage and kept Noah under his control.
I liked that we also get the Regent’s POV so literally everybody, except poor Noah, knew. That the boy was so innocent had me wondering how he even survived the human world. Like in most fairy tales, food and wine should not be touched and Noah was constantly supplied with both so he stood no chance of resisting. Still, part of his brain sent warning signals. At one point, he even acknowledged he had Stockholm Syndrome but shrugged it off. He was presented to the council where they talked about him in Gaelic and he knew the language but he just stood there and did nothing. And then, there was that moment when the connection between his father and Fearghas hit him but still, nothing. It was hard to feel sorry for him, he was so passive.
This is tagged as romance, definitely of the gothic variety. I will try not to wonder how the romance will work because there are darker stories out there that pulled it off convincingly. I’m not gung-ho about Noah and Fearghas just yet, the power dynamics is so skewed. The Regent was villainous through and through. I will read the sequels because I wanted badly for the balance of power to switch or at least even out. Or for Noah to stop being a helpless ragdoll. The story is very effective that way, it makes you want to find out more.
The Unseelie Prince might not have ended happily, but it ended with a bombshell. Delivered in Fearghas’ chilling whisper, never had the words “welcome home” sounded so sinister. What will you do now, Prince Naoise? Are you going to do anything at all?
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it