Title: The Marked Prince
Series: The Darkest Court: Book Two
Author: M.A. Grant
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 305 Pages
At a Glance: Laid out in an elegant prose, Grant draws readers into this story by the heart, gives us two heroes to support, to suffer the sting of failure with, and to celebrate with. I am utterly infatuated with this series.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Torn between two worlds, desperate to save one love.
The Summer Court is nothing like Sebastian remembers. The oppressed lower classes are drained of their magick, and around every corner political intrigues threaten an already unstable regime. Sebastian’s only hope of surviving the Court and bringing home Prince Lyne’s traitorous brother lies with Duine, a magickless Unseelie servant desperate to win his freedom. A servant for whom Sebastian, an estranged Seelie royal himself, is developing a dangerous and deepening affection.
But behind the mask Duine wears are secrets as dangerous as what’s smoldering between them. And the more Duine helps Sebastian navigate Court life, the more it becomes clear the servant is not who he appears to be. How he came to be the whipping boy of one of the most powerful and corrupt faeries in the Summer Court is a truth Sebastian is determined to uncover, even if it puts him at odds with the very people who can lead him to the missing Unseelie prince.
When a powerful enemy steps from the shadows, it could spell the end not just for the Unseelie, but for both faerie Courts. Sebastian must choose: complete the mission and earn his place among the Unseelie who took him in, or risk his very life to ensure freedom for the man he loves.
Review: Wow. Just…wow.
No, that isn’t a particularly eloquent opening, but once again I’m left somewhat speechless by my love for a book. M.A. Grant doesn’t tell stories in half measures or with a lack of passion. Prince of Air and Darkness proved this, and The Marked Prince reinforces that fact. With vigor. So, take my Wow as it’s intended—with absolute and unequivocal adoration of this book.
A looming battle was presaged in “Prince”. There was little evidence presented to contradict the possibility that the Unseelie and the Seelie would enter into a war. And so we witness, in real time, not only the Winter court High Prince Sláine’s abject failure at diplomacy as the story begins, but his defection to the Summer court on top of it. Moreover, we learn that politics and perception, especially where the fae are involved, are rarely clear-cut and never without multiple factions working their own agendas. The suspense in this novel is sustained throughout the telling of its story, peaking and ebbing at times but never truly abating, and that kept my anxiety levels pegged at maximum, which only made the reading more engaging and exciting. Especially as Roark and Finny are determined to storm the Seelie court and drag Sláine back home. Whether that’s for Sláine’s benefit or to ensure he answers for his defection is somewhat immaterial when weighed against who they’ve earmarked for the quest.
We met Sebastian in book one and know him as Finn’s sweet and unassuming friend. Seb is a hybrid, a Seelie on his mother’s side and Unseelie on his father’s. There have been countless stories about characters who straddle two worlds and belong fully to neither, and that is certainly the case in The Marked Prince, which works to build empathy and compassion for Seb and his reluctance to set foot back in the Seelie court to face his childhood memories and the grief he carries over the loss of his mother. Not to mention facing the King and Queen. His relationship to the court further complicates his mission as well as compromises his safety. Seb, Roark and Finn have not underestimated the risks involved in Seb walking headlong into the Seelie sídhe, with little power to his name. They know there’s a possibility that Seb will not live long enough to drag Sláine back to his mother, Queen Mab, and whatever consequences might await him. Their goal is to make sure Seb succeeds, of course, but it’s not long before we realize that help from Roark and Finn is improbable at best. At worst, it’s hopeless. So Seb must rely on a tortured servant to become his unlikely ally.
Duine is under the control of the High Princess Aoife, which has become increasingly dangerous to his health. When Seb witnesses Duine being tortured in front of a salivating crowd, the servant’s death seemingly imminent, Seb steps forward and requests the King to grant Seb the favor of taking Duine on as his personal aide. And that is the beginning of something utterly beautiful. Duine not only responds to Seb’s kind and gentle and generous nature, but a friendship grows between them in a slow and essential way. They become each other’s greatest champions, are loyal and committed to remaining by each other’s side, come what may. But the battle lines are drawn within the Seelie sídhe; there is unrest brewing between the classes along with the rise of a power madness that promises to deliver death to both Seb and Duine.
Laid out in an elegant prose, Grant draws readers into this story by the heart, gives us two heroes to support, to suffer the sting of failure with, and to celebrate with. The world-building in this series is as vital to its scenery as it is to its characterizations and the inner-workings of the Winter and Summer realms. The emotion wrung from Duine’s storyline is significant, but it does not overshadow the secrets that surround Sebastian and how his lineage influences their story. There are wins and losses, and the revelations are exquisite, rendered in sometimes excruciating but often poignant ways. In the end, there is home and people who are loyal, the alchemy of faith and a steadfast devotion, and the promise of a deep and abiding love is fulfilled.
I am utterly infatuated with this series and cannot wait for the next book, even knowing that it will be the last.
You can buy The Marked Prince here:
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