#ATBR2021 – Malice by Heather Walter

Another new retelling is here!

Thanks to Del Rey Books for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews

MALICE – Heather Walter (Released April 13th, 2021)

Book Description:

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.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Well ok then!  No princes saving the girl… instead we have an ‘evil’ Alyce who is completely misunderstood due to her powerful (albeit dark) powers.  This dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty is simply fantastic.  While I’m not usually much of a retellings kinda gal, I do enjoy them when they are on the darker side.  Now, don’t mistake that to mean we get this super dark, crazy story.  That is not the case.  Instead we get Alyce, while outcasted as a ‘monster’, is simply a girl misunderstood who loves hexes and curses (Hi Alyce,  an we be best friends?!)  You guessed it, the ‘good’ people in this story are entitled, materialistic and utterly annoying.  Did anyone else get inklings of other fairy tale elements included?  I felt a little bit of Cinderella in here, maybe? 😉  Who cares, right? Because in any case, it’s all a bit twisted from what we normally know of fairy tales and I’m here for it.

Thank you, Walter, for making the love story feel realistic and not all instalove. PHEW.  While we always expect the romantic entanglements that come with these kinds of tales, what’s brilliant here is that it’s not fully focused on that.  This story really is more on Alyce and her finding comfortability in who she is and the power she contains.  At the end of the day, it was simply a fun story to read.  Some tiny plot holes were noticed… however, I’m thinking it’ll all come together in the next book of this duology.  Best believe I’ll be reading that one too!

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

It’s no secret that I love retellings, plus the darker and more twisted the better. I love Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, so when I saw this included Princess Aurora and a dark sorceress I knew I needed to pick it up. It’s always refreshing when retellings blur the stark lines between good and evil that their well-known counterparts create.

Alyce is the only Dark Grace in Briar and the last to have Vila blood. The Graces are half-fae women born with golden blood that can be added to elixirs and potions to enhance beauty and other desires. Alyce has the green blood of the Vila, a race that was thought to have been completely eradicated, and she creates hexes and curses for her customers. Cruelly nicknamed Malyce by one of the Graces, she seems to try and embrace the dark character they have made her out to be.

Then Alyce meets Princess Aurora. There is just one more year until Aurora’s curse will come to pass – bestowed upon her by the same dark magic that courses through Alyce’s veins. After a relationship begins to form between them, she begins to wonder if there is anything she can do with her gifts to end the curse. Who needs a Prince when she has an evil sorceress?

I was captivated almost immediately. I love being in Alyce’s head and she is such a complex character. You really feel what she’s experiencing when it comes to her isolation from the other Graces, being labeled a monster and villain, and then the hope that comes with her budding romance. While there were a couple things here and there that didn’t completely work for me, they weren’t enough to take away from the reading experience. Give me all the villain retellings!

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