Malice – book review

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Malice
Malice duology #1
by Heather Walter
Fairytale retelling
Fantasy
LGBTQ+
Romance
for adults/older teens
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Alyce, known as “Malice” the Dark Grace, is part Vila, and one of her ancestors is responsible for having cursed the princesses of the Queendom of Briar with death if they do not receive true love’s kiss by their 21st birthdays. Although she is extremely powerful and patrons regularly seek out her dark magic, she’s not popular or adored. The other Graces have fae magic running in their veins and use their blood for charms and luck and beauty. But all the Graces are basically chained in service to Briar. Over the years, the Briar queens have given up more and more of their powers and responsibilities to their kings/consorts, and now they are on the cusp of losing everything. Princess Aurora is the last of the line and she’s only got one more year to break her curse. When she and Alyce meet, they form a connection neither one of them anticipated as they try to find a way to free Aurora from her terrible fate.

Containing elements of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, this fairytale mashup explores the world from the point of view of the (purported) villainess – it still remains to be seen whether Alyce goes full on evil sorceress. She certainly has enough grievances against Briar and its people to make a convincing case for choosing the dark path. Much of the insecurity and jealousy she experiences might have been alleviated through better communication, but there are quite a few obstacles in Alyce’s path over which she has very little control. (I’d argue that the King of Briar is far more evil than Alyce.) It’s extremely satisfying to watch her come into her power and lay waste to those who have wronged her. Those who enjoy fairytale retellings may want to pick this one up.

Reviewed by YA Librarian