Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: April 13th, 2020
Synopsis: Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.
You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.
Let me tell you, no one in Briar really cares about what happens to their princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care either.
Until I met her.
Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she…cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.
But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.
Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—
I am the villain.
Malice is a master class in how to create a fairytale retelling. With her debut novel, Heather Walter has taken the beloved tale of Sleeping Beauty and embroidered it with gorgeous and unique embellishments that drew me in immediately from the first chapter and didn’t release me for hours after I finished. You all know how I endeavor not to include any spoilers in my reviews if I can help it, and I’m even more determined in this case because this is a tale you need to experience on your own with no preconceived notions or expectations. It’s both character-driven and plot-driven, with each perfectly complementing the other. This first book mainly concentrates on Alyce, and how she and her dark magic become a force to be reckoned with. While her relationship with Princess Aurora plays a role in who she becomes, their romance doesn’t truly factor in until the latter half of the book. I do warn that there’s a pretty passionate scene between Alyce and Aurora, so this is definitely not for younger YAs. A few of the secondary characters are molded from familiar characters, both from the original story and the Disney adaptation, but they all take on completely original characteristics of their own. The world building is visually detailed and helps bring the kingdom of Briar to life. While there’s not a lot of action in the first part of the book, I was so enthralled with Briar, its history and inhabitants, that I didn’t mind at all. The final few chapters though fairly explode, and the climactic ending has left me impatient for the sequel in this planned duology. I HIGHLY recommend this for older teens and adults who are looking for diverse fairytales with complex characters, rich world building, and engrossing storytelling.