REVIEW: Faebound by Saara El-Arifi

Last Updated on February 14, 2024

Faebound is the latest novel from Sunday Times bestselling author Saara El-Arifi. Here at Grimdark Magazine we are already big fans of El-Arifi’s previous releases The Final Strife and Battle Drum. Although I have not yet read those two myself, the team hyped El-Arifi’s writing up enough that I picked up Faebound with no hesitation. Faebound is the first in a new epic fantasy trilogy and I raced through it, so I am quite glad I still have El-Arifi’s other books to get on with whilst I wait for the next Faebound instalment.

FaeboundIn Faebound we meet Yeeran, a legendary Elven warrior, who has risen up the ranks to become the youngest colonel their army has ever seen. She has been a warrior for so long, from such a young age, that Yeeran knows nothing different. She must succeed because then her people might know peace. Lettle, Yeeran’s younger sister, follows a different, more peaceful path, as a diviner. One day a prophecy of Lettle’s influences Yeeran’s battle tactics and causes a fatal error. Yeeran is spared execution, but instead sentenced to exile from the Elven lands. Lettle refuses to be left behind and follows her sister in to the dangerous wilderness. Here they come across the fae – a fellow magical race thought to be long extinct. Captured by the fae and taken to their secret home, Yeeran and Lettle must do all they can to survive, and find their loyalties tested as they learn more about their captors and the truth about the Elven leaders back home.

I enjoyed Faebound; I found it to be a very easy read, and read it very quickly. It is what I would call a popcorn read – entertaining whilst I have it and very easy to get on with quickly. I liked many things about the Faebound, I liked that it is a queernorm world, and that humans feature very little in it so for the most part Faebound is about the differences between two magical races. El-Arifi has put a lot of effort in to creating the different magical lore and mythologies in Faebound which I found new and refreshing. I have not come across a similar presentation of elven or fae characters before, so I found this really interesting. I also liked the contrasting presentation of Yeeran and Lettle and that, although the sisters clearly love each other very much, they struggle to understand and accept the choices the other makes.

However, I would say Faebound fits much more into the romantic fantasy genre than it does the epic fantasy and from what I have been told there is much more romance in Faebound than there is in El-Afiri’s more military fantasy of The Ending Fire Trilogy. This may be worth knowing if you are picking up Faebound with some preconceived idea. Although there are some dark elements in the novel, I would not describe it as a dark fantasy and it would not be shelved near my grimdark books. The fact that I was able to read the novel so very quickly (which is unusual for me when reading new worlds) suggests that although I found this world interesting and entertaining, it was not an overly challenging or complex read.

That being said, if romantasy is your thing, there is a high chance you will enjoy your time spent reading Faebound and knowing that about it I will still be happily continuing this trilogy. If you are looking for something darker or a more epic military style fantasy, then this is probably not going to be the right choice for you. Thank you to Saara El-Arifi and the team at Harper Voyager for sending Grimdark Magazine a review copy.

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Fiona Denton

Fiona Denton

Fiona is a former secondary school teacher and current stay at home parent to two very wild and active children. She lives with them and her husband in the UK and can often be found on a beach paddling in the North Sea or stomping through a forest with the sprogs and hounds. She loves to read and has always enjoyed fantasy novels, particularly the very dark and twisty ones with mythical creatures.

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