ARC review: Malice by Heather Walter

I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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.

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I’m not usually too into retellings unless they’re made queer/diverse so when I heard this had a sapphic romance I was immediately interested even though I don’t know much about the original story (I mean I’ve seen some versions of Sleeping Beauty but it’s not a story I cared about particularly much).

I don’t really want to say much about the story other than it’s a descend into villainy (which is always sexy) and it’s sapphic. I mean, do you really need to know more?? Okay okay, it’s also not YA like I thought (the main character and love interest are 20) and it’s also not a standalone like I thought (which I hoped it would be, so I wouldn’t be left with that cliffhanger).

The book wasn’t only about the romance, it’s actually probably 1:1 plot:romance which I found was a good mix. I will say even if this is not YA a lot of the tropes it followed are typical of YA and if you’ve read enough YA fantasy you will typically guess where most plot arcs are going, but I didn’t find that to be annoying here, it was more like something to hold on to, if that makes sense.

So overall I really want to recommend this because it will appeal to both readers who are into YA and to readers more used to (usually adult) morally grey fantasy, and of course to readers looking for a sapphic romance in a fantasy setting.

6 thoughts on “ARC review: Malice by Heather Walter

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