By: Lindsey Pfeffer, Columnist
Views expressed in the column are the author’s own.
⅖. The Unseelie Prince Is Another in the Long Line of Sarah J Maas School of Writing
“The Unseelie Prince” by Kathryn Ann Kingsley probably would have sold me had I not read “A Court of Wings and Ruin” first. The two are almost the exact same frame when we compare plot, and the writing style really turns me off.
Enter a homely witch’s hut, with barely enough magic to be called a witch. A Fae prince is on the prowl for a human woman he can marry to be able to ascend to the throne. The goal? Complete world domination. Long story short: the bad guy is vaguely abusive to the pretty human girl, they fall in love anyway, and we’ll have to read book two if we want to see if she manages to prevent him from taking over the world by brute force.
I honestly didn’t have much problem with the plot, except for two points. I don’t think it’s fun to read about glorified abuse, and I don’t understand why female authors are the ones who glorify it. And two, it really is almost the exact same plot as ACOTAR. Human girl must solve the riddles to win something, and the slow burn hinges on bad guy and hot girl working against each other – until they don’t. And then the sexual tensions crescendos and BAM! Now they’re in love.
I think it’s time to start calling out romance that just doesn’t try. It’s kind of offensive as a reader to have romance as a back burner plot line, with no build up, and then suddenly everything is hot and heavy. We are smarter than that, and can understand subtle cues about developing feelings, but throwing the tagline of “slow burn” onto any work where romance doesn’t come into play until the third act, with no plot work to sell that third act, is lazy.
The reason I did not enjoy the writing style also contributes to why I think the slow burn lacked depth. This book is written from alternating points of view, from Abigail and Valroy. But, it’s written in third person. Right off the bat, I don’t think third person fits most narratives like this in the first place. It creates a distance from the reader to the story that isn’t helpful when you aren’t going to put more effort into writing around emotions instead of blatantly telling them.
I think if this story had been told from first person, the reader would feel less like they’re watching a really weird play and more like they can absorb themselves into the story. The author also uses a bit of a narrative version of Middle English, no weird spelling but overly formal language and interesting sentence structures. This could’ve worked really well in a first person narrative, but in third person it just comes off a bit pretentious.
Overall, this wasn’t a bad story. It just wasn’t a great story. I probably won’t continue onto the second book in the series, but if you want to read about a sadistic prince stealing a human girl in pursuit of power, this is definitely up your alley. This was not the book for me.