Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter

Malice

Author: Heather Walter
Series: (Untitled), book 1
Publisher: Del Ray (April 13, 2021)
Hardcover, 496 pages
Fantasy, Young Adult Dark Fantasy
Goodreads

Summary

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. 

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I love a fairy tale retelling, now make it make it about the villain and make it queer and I’m hooked. This is billed as a romance but definitely read more as a villain origin story than romance – but I have high hoped for book 2.

Malice is everything I’d hoped for when I first picked it up, and so much more. Alyce as the Dark Grace is so magnificent, and I really felt for her and everything she goes through. As an origin story, this book is amazing. If you’re looking for a romance, it definitely gets off to a slow start and leaves something to be desired, at least in the first half. I do wish we’d gotten a little more romancin’, because I was very drawn in by the princess and villain romance promise in the blurb.

I love the exploration of morality and the shades of grey that we live in that are the reality between the stark, bright, black and white concepts of “good” and “evil,” or “light” and “dark.” The history, the world building, the magical system… just wow. WOW. There are a few things that feel like plot holes, but there is a sequel so I’m hoping those will be tied up in the next book!

A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.

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