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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.
This book was everything I wanted in a fantasy novel. I have had an (embarrassing) soft spot for Sleeping Beauty since I was a little kid, holding on to the plastic case for the Disney VHS and signing along with Once Upon a Dream more times than I can remember. There was something about the power of true love and how magnificent Maleficent is that kept that story with me and made me think I’d never find a retelling I’d cling to as tightly.
Malice was better.
Alyce, The Dark Grace, is full of dark, misunderstood magic. Ostracised by other magical Graces, she spends her days making elixirs that help the ruling mortals of Briar play palace games of petty drama (can you tell I don’t love them? It’s not obvious I know.) Briar is a kingdom in perpetual crisis thanks to a curse on every princess born to the royal family.
Aurora is the last daughter, and last hope of breaking the curse, of the Briar King – and she’s running of chapstick and patience as the endless stream of suitors come to place (what they hope is) the curse-breaking kiss of true love on her. By a stroke of luck, and some truly lovely plotting by Heather Walter, Alyce and Aurora’s paths cross, and their growing connection starts to inspire hope that maybe the long history of doomed princesses could be ending…or will it?
Five full-throated, standing ovation, stars for Malice. Perfect for those tired of the Prince rolling up and saving the day again at the end of the second act who like their world-building strong and their characters a little…grey.
The longing in this book emotionally did me in (and that’s a compliment). Alyce’s desire to understand herself and find someone who doesn’t look at her like she’s the root of all evil will feel so familiar to anyone trying to navigate life outside of what the dominant society is pushing. I cried, I swooned, and I am totally unprepared for Misrule.
Ready for Misrule? Review here!
Now available in paperback!