Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter

Published in 2021 by Del Rey, an imprint of Random House. Book One in the Malice duology.

Add Malice to your Goodreads TBR (seriously, do it now, please and thank you!) –

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51530580-malice?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=hBN5hLSxBU&rank=1

Purchase Links:

The Nile AU:

https://www.thenile.com.au/books/heather-walter/malice/9781984818652

Booktopia:

https://www.booktopia.com.au/malice-heather-walter/book/9781529101287.html

Angus & Robertson:

https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/books/malice-heather-walter/p/9781529101287

Amazon AU:

ISBN-10: 1984818651

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, LGBTQIA+

Format: Hardcover (also available in eBook and Paperback, I just say hardcover as I read/own the Hardcover edition, couldn’t go past that cover 🤩 and honestly what’s inside just…wow! Read it now, pretty please!

Page Count: 480

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sypnosis from Goodreads:

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.

My Review:

Fuuuuuuckkk. What am I meant to do with myself now? Well, until book 2 at least?! *Eyes an endless amount of unread books on my TBR*. Yes okay, but that’s not the point!!! Just, wow. I have always had a soft spot for fairytale retellings and honestly Malice is about as wickedly majestic as they come!

It’s so delightfully dark, written with such immersive writing, with an absolutely memorable main character, it doesn’t feel quite right to me to call her a villain, but oh, Alyce does pose such wonderful wickedness, though she’s essentially abhorred upon for being Vila, a figure of dark and evil magic that has practically been abolished! Consequently, she is snickered and scorned upon like there’s no tomorrow, rumours spread about her Dark Grace magic, preparing elixirs for patrons with sugar coated stories, ‘like they didn’t come here specifically to do harm to someone they’ve convinced themselves deserves it.’

I was absolutely intrigued by the curse that was placed upon the Daughters of the King and Queen, fated to die by their 21st birthday, that is, unless a true love presents themselves and a rousing kiss erases the mark borne upon them! When I read about the Princess Aurora’s reaction to yet another unsuccessful suitor, it might sound strange but I literally quietly cheered! Namely because I just had this slight, albeit fierce inkling that what was to follow, would be completely epic! And spoiler alert, I wasn’t wrong at all! I honestly found myself procrastinating finishing this, purely because I was enjoying it so much! (Sorry Peta – I know you were patiently waiting for me to finish it, I really appreciate that! *Hugs*).

Dark, twisted fairytales flipped on their heads are usually an instant win in my book, but add LGBTQIA characters and OH. MY. GOD. SO. MUCH. YES. Aurora. Alyce. My heart! The build up and tension throughout the story, the conspiring, the plotting, the EVERYTHING! The writing was instantly immersive, I practically found myself invested right from the get go, curiously entranced by Alyce, cruelly nicknamed ‘Malyce’ because of her seemingly cursed ways!

Yet, I couldn’t even bring myself to loathe Rose and Marigold, characters that endlessly taunt Alyce, (yes, I hated that they did this to her, they had no right to!), but throughout, as things get further into the story and one reads more about what the Graces have to do to cultivate their powers, drawing into themselves, I just found the unique magic wielding and their powers so intriguing to read about! I for most part quite liked the throughly intriguing Laurel too, not quite an ally to Alyce, but not quite an enemy! Then there’s the mysterious Kal, oh, his character just had me constantly wondering if I could trust him, I really hoped I could, for I loved his scenes with Alyce, aaaaaah!!!

Honourable mention though to Callow, Alyce’s beloved kestrel, her faithful companion, so precious! I loved their bond! Now though, without going to steadfast into spoilers regarding the romance aspect of Malice, I just have to gush about it, even if it’s for a little bit!! Nothing, absolutely nothing about it felt forced or cringe or cloche! Their chemistry was absolutely gorgeous throughout, I felt myself absolutely itching to read more scenes with the two of them, wondering, ever so curiously, how everything would develop – and oh, it was all just absolutely, wickedly epic! Everything about Malice is nothing short of perfection, honestly if I could go back and read it for the first time, I honestly happily would, for I’d say it’s become one of my favourite reads of the year! I don’t think I’ve fallen hard for a YA retelling since The Cursebreaker series by Brigid Kemmerer (which I still need to finish, oops!).

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn.

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