Review: Malice by Heather Walter (ARC)
"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.
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.
Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—
I am the villain."
I received an advanced copy of Malice by Heather Walter for free on NetGalley by Del Rey in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much Heather, Del Rey & NetGalley for this copy!
* The Bookshop link is an affiliate link which means that at no cost to you I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the link :) *
I loved the look of Malice when I saw it on Twitter and I have been so excited to read it! I love a retelling and the fact that this is a sapphic version of Sleeping Beauty is just *chefs kiss*.
Our protagonist is Alyce and she is the dark grace, one of the evil Vila that were defeated years before. She's different to the other graces who can offer enhancements on things such as beauty and wisdom, whereas she offers elixirs and potions for evil deeds. If a patron wants to give someone warts for example they go to Alyce. Because of her heritage she is treated cruelly by those who are supposed to be her "sisters" and mocked yet also feared by everyone in town. However, the princess Aurora is different. She accepts Alyce for who she is and doesn't blame her for her ancestors curse. But a villain isn't supposed to fall in love with a princess is she? Especially when said princess doesn't have much time left before she succumbs to the curse.
I was immediately engrossed with this book from the first page! I usually make notes as I go along but I didn't want to put it down for a second - hence why this review is going to be mostly me gushing about how great Malice was!
Alyce was such a good main character! I love stories from the "villains" perspective and being able to see their side of the story. She was strong, super sarcastic, smart and wickedly talented. She's been through so much pain and been on her own for so long, like anybody else she just wants to be loved. I know she's technically a villain but I love her with all of my heart, don't judge me!
The chemistry, plus the character development, between Alyce and Aurora was amazing! Every scene they had together was magical and I can say with confidence it was one of the best f/f couples I've read!
Plus the worldbuilding, which is one of my favourite elements in a book, was excellent! I really enjoyed the rich and detailed history that the author gave us and the reminder that history is always written by the victors and we may not be given the full story!
Malice is one of my favourite books of the year and I am about to go and preorder myself a physical copy because I NEED this gorgeous story, and the beautiful cover, on my sapphic bookshelf! I'm really hoping that there is going to be a sequel because I need more Alyce & Aurora in my life! I know that I'm going to read anything Heather Walter writes from now on and she's definitely going to be an auto-buy author for me!
Malice is a delicious, magical and intelligent retelling that fans of fantasy will want to devour! Thank you so much Heather Walter, Del Rey and NetGalley for this advanced copy, I absolutely adored it!