ARCs · Book Reviews

ARC Review: Malice by Heather Walter

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

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.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its 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 magic 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.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain. 

Release Date: April 13th, 2021

*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and Del Ray for the opportunity!*

I loved this book. This retelling of Sleeping Beauty was so clever and it twisted the story the perfect amount, where it was recognizable but still entirely fresh. The world-building was fantastic and I loved the history, the concept of the Graces, the magic systems, and the politics of the Kingdom of Briar. Alyce was a complicated and morally gray heroine, which was unique and an exciting thing to experience as a reader. I had so much empathy for her and it was fascinating to see someone who clearly had a good heart fight with her natural-born magic, which is powered by mal-intent, as well as the horrible way society has treated her for her entire life. Princess Aurora was totally loveable and their relationship broke my heart with its sweetness. The entire book is filled with a cast of complex and morally gray characters, creating some pretty great twists and turns in the plot. The ending left me in shock- it was so not what I expected to happen and I loved every second of it. This is one of my favorite fairy tale re-imaginings that I have read. I highly recommend it and am excited to see what else Heather Walter has up her sleeve.

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