Author: Heather Walter
Series: Malice Duology #1
Length: 496 pages
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: April 13, 2021
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Recommended for fans of: Maleficent, Wicked, retellings
Content Warnings: torture
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.
Malice gives the Wicked treatment to Sleeping Beauty in an imaginative retelling about the “Dark Grace.” Alyce begins the book desperately wanting to fit in and be accepted by the Graces, who mockingly call her Malyce, and doubting herself and her magic. However, by the end of the book, Alyce fully embraces her powers and goes full dark side.
The story is slow burning, but it explores so many complex areas of Alyce’s life: her forbidden romance with a cursed princess; her tense relationship with the Graces who bully her; her fear and loathing for the fae lord who experimented on her as a child; her struggles to understand and control her magic; her desire to be free; her major trust issues because she constantly feels used and rejected for her dark powers.
This book kept me guessing; like Alyce, I never knew who to trust. I absolutely loved the character development in this book, and I can’t wait for the sequel.
Thank you to Del Rey and Netgalley for the gifted eARC in exchange for an honest review.