Malice by Heather Walter
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. Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. Burdened by the curse. 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. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though a power like mine was responsible for her curse.
The setting and plot of this novel felt like a crossover of Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. There was the wicked fairy, the war between humans and mystical beings, the romance, the wicked “step-family”; everything was there in perfect balance of hope and despair. Alyce was such a strong character, a woman burdened with an evil gift, determined to not become the monster that the people of Briar think she is. The connection between her and Aurora was so gentle and pure. Both finding solace in each other’s pain. The strong feminist trope shone through, women sticking together to take down the cruel men trying to take over the country. Who needs a handsome prince to save the day when you can have two powerful women? That is, until Alyce discovers her true power. The book ended on a big cliff hanger which will leave you desperately wanting to read the sequel. The biggest question is, can Alyce hold onto her humanity long enough to save, and keep, the love of her life?
Themes: Fairytales retold, Fantasy, Homosexuality, LGBTQIA+ people, Love, Magic, Strong female character.