Bow Before The Elf Queen by J.M. Kearl

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If anyone touches her in any way, death will come swiftly. And I am the reaper.

Goodreads / Storygraph

Summary from Goodreads

In hiding all her life, Layala prepares for the day the wicked High Elf King Thane will come to steal her — his powerful mate. She trains to take her revenge for the wrongful execution of her parents, who died for her freedom.

Now that day has come, forcing her to come face-to-face with what she’s hidden from: a dangerous, dark-haired, warrior king determined to marry her.

After she’s shoved into a black carriage pulled by six ominous steeds, Layala makes plans to take her captors’ lives and free herself…

…but Thane has a secret that makes it impossible for Layala to slay him. She has an even darker truth that makes loving her forbidden, no matter how much Thane wants to touch.

Dare to dive into this whimsical and deeply romantic story inspired by Hades & Persephone, The Lord of the Rings, and a sprinkle of Norse mythology. A tale that will grip you from the first page and stay with you long after the last.

Thoughts on the Plot

Despite my love for non-existing dark-haired fae men, it was nice to read a story centered on Elves/Humans vs the usual Fae/Humans. 

This story was pretty easy to follow. It’s not too overly complicated and lays out in its pages what it promises in its summary. 

I (personally) love the fated mate’s trope, so the opening of this book pulled me right in. Our main character, Layala, is fated to marry the future Elf King, Thane from pretty much the moment she is born. 

While this book fulfilled some of its fantasy tropes like fated mates, “touch her you die”, and a slow burn to drive you crazy. 

I cannot understand how this is considered enemies to lovers. While no, Layala does not exactly like Thane and threatens him quite often in the early parts, they’re not truly enemies. Thane is already so in love with Layala that it is impossible to really see them as enemies to lovers. 

Something I also had a bit of a tiff with this book about was the pacing. The beginning of the story really pulls you in, but as the book goes on, the story begins to fizzle out the tiniest bit which I didn’t like. 

This also had some easy to understand world-building and interesting side characters.

Thoughts on the Characters

Layala is an interesting main character. Being raised by humans, Layala has come to despise the Elves. 

She is very strong-headed and stands for those she loves and what she believes in. But she is a little too selfish and changes her mind a little too easily. 

Like when she finally comes around to Thane’s pleading, I was like confused. She felt very wishy-washy at times and I was not a fan. 

Thane, on the other hand, like, can he just be my mate? Like Layala, sis, if you don’t want him, I will happily take him. 

Thane is such a softie for Layala. He protects and defends her around every turn. He understands her struggles and when he doesn’t, he tries his best to. 

The banter between Thane and Layala was really fun and their slow burn romance had some truly swoon-worthy moments. 

Overall Thoughts

I did want to note I listened to this series as audiobooks, and the male narrator who voiced Thane sounded like he was screaming every time he read his parts. It was quite jarring compared to the softness of Layala’s narrator’s voice, so just a tidbit about the audiobooks. 

All in all, if you like fantasy romance with a lot of the general tropes and themes, with a slow burn romance and a dash of spice alongside a semi-decent plot, this book is for you. 

Layala kinda got on my nerves the further the book when on. But I did genuinely enjoy this book and was so excited to get into the second book. 

So this Bow Before The Elf Queen gets 4 stars out of 5 stars from me. 


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