Malice by Heather Walter — ARC Review

Summary:

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.

Review: 4.5 Stars

I picked up a review copy of Malice because I knew it was a Sleeping Beauty retelling from the point of view of the villain. I didn’t really have any expectations, so I was blown away by how much I wound up loving Malice. This book was so well written and grabbed my attention right away. I really loved everything about this book. If you’re like I was and you’re on the fence trying to decide if this book is for you I recommend you do yourself a favor and give it a shot.

Alyce is hated by all of the other Graces because she is half Vila. She is painted as a villain because of her blood, she is lonely and she is bullied. I found it really easy to empathize with Alyce. She is a bit morally grey, but with how everyone treated her it was easy to see where her bitterness came from. The character development in this book is done incredibly well. I was able to connect with Alyce so well that I felt all of the emotions she was going through. I hated everyone who was cruel to her and loved any tiny bit of kindness that came her way. This was an incredible villain origin story because as a reader you were able to connect with Alyce and it wasnt until the very end that I started to disagree with some of her morally grey choices.

The world built in this story is fascinating. The history of the Vila and how the Graces came to be is given to the reader slowly and it was never overwhelming. I felt like it was really well done because you could see how the history and the world affected different people. You could see how prejudices against Vila shaped Alyce’s whole life and how Grace powers and limitations affected the Graces. The world felt so complete and vivid. The magic system was pretty cool and it was also clear and defined, so I never felt confused while reading.

The romance was absolutely amazing. I really loved Aurora and Alyce together. I was so emotionally invested in Alyce’s story and it was easy to see why she fell for Aurora. It was a great slow burn romance that built up over time and through friendship so it felt very authentic. There was a lot of chemistry between Aurora and Alyce and I was rooting for their forbidden romance throughout the entire story.

I loved this villain origin story. The characters are done so well and had me so emotionally invested in their journeys. I thought this was a really original take on Sleeping Beauty and I loved every minute of this book. The world building was fantastic, the characters were well developed and the plot was an emotional roller coaster. I’d recommend this book for fans of retellings, morally grey characters and forbidden romance. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy of Malice ASAP.

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