**Malice was sent to me on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Del Rey UK/Penguin Random House for having me on the tour.**
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 takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and tips it on its head. Filled with magic, darkness, and love this book shines a new light on a very old story.
This may surprise everyone but Malice is the first fairy-tale retelling I’ve ever read – terrible, I know! But what a retelling to break the curse with (see what I did there?). There is so much about this book to love, however, I must admit the pacing for the first half of it felt too slow for me. As I’ve mentioned in many reviews previously, if it takes a long time to get to the action I can lose some interest in what I’m reading. Whilst I didn’t lose interest in reading Malice, I did find it dragged a bit with the initial backstory.
For the character’s I want to start by saying, Alyce deserved better. SO much better. After years of abuse by those around her, it was only going to be a matter of time before she snapped. Being part Vila made her different and cast her aside as an abomination. The saddest part of it is that she had a genuinely good heart. She wanted to help, but they destroyed any last ounce of hope and belief she had in the world she was a part of. I enjoyed reading as her character developed and she learned how powerful she actually was. The truth of it was that she actually had nothing to prove to anyone, not the Housemistress, or The Grace’s because she was the most powerful of them all. The other Grace’s can only do so many potions for healing and beauty for so long until they lose their power. Alyce’s will never die and it’s clear quite early on that those living with her are exceptionally jealous of that.
Of course, it would be wrong to mention characters and not talk about Princess Aurora. Baring in mind I only have Disney Princess Aurora to base my knowledge on, I can categorically say Malice Aurora is one hundred times better. She’s got substance and a fantastic rebellious streak that makes her very likable. It becomes clear the more you read, that everyone in that Kingdom feels trapped in some way including Aurora. There are many other characters I could speak about, but they are integral to the development of the plot and I think you should find out about them by reading Malice!
Whilst the world-building was beautiful, it took pretty much the first half of the book to complete it which is a long time for descriptive narrative. However, I did love how this was written and appreciated the build-up to their romance as it felt very natural. I also liked the fact their romance wasn’t the focus of the book, and that Alyce’s character development was able to take centre stage. Reading as she became more self-aware and stronger was one of the reasons I really rooted for her.
Overall, I ended up thoroughly enjoying Malice and rate it 4/5 stars. The slowness of the first half was mildly annoying but once you make it past that point the pace picks up nicely and it was a refreshing read. It was very different from what I usually read so I’m glad that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I recommend this book to those who are fans of Fantasy and I’d definitely say this is more adult fiction rather than YA.