Author: Heather Walter
Series: Malice
Series #: 1
Genre: fantasy, romance
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

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.


Malice is one of those books that was recommended to me and I saw on lots of lists as being such a great read, so I decided that it was time to try it and see if I liked it. I feel like I’m being overgenerous with my three star rating. It was really a 2/2.5 for me. This book just didn’t work for me on so many levels. I love retellings as much as the next person, but something about this book just didn’t work for me the way that it worked for everyone else. I wish it had though.

Malice is a sapphic retelling of the sleeping beauty story, which in concept sounds so amazing. There aren’t nearly enough sapphic books out there that are fantasy like this. I went into it with the expectation it might be something similar to Priory of the Orange Tree which I absolutely loved. Maybe that was my mistake here, because Malice is nothing like that. It is fantasy, but it also is very much a tragic romance story I felt. I feel like there’s something wrong with me that I didn’t like it as much as everyone else did. All I can say is I wish that I had loved it. I had expected to love it.

Where did the book go wrong for me? I think the simple answer is that it took too long to get to the meat of the plot. I was bored for the whole first half of the book. I think I did skim some sections and felt that I didn’t miss anything. The second half of the book is where it picks up, but by that point I was no longer invested in the book, nor did I care about the characters because I wasn’t invested. And that is the fault of the pacing of the book. Which again, was just not working for me at all. It just felt as if nothing were happening. Slow books are one thing, but I felt that there was no character development or plot development. I was left feeling very underwhelmed by this book in that regard.

I lacked the ability to like the characters. I love villains, but I just felt that this one just fell really flat to me. I know I’m supposed to care about the characters or root for them, but I just didn’t care. I was honestly ready for the book to be over. It was a torturous read for me. Not at all that enjoyable. I couldn’t even tell you that much about the characters in the end…it just didn’t work.

The writing style was another thing that just wasn’t for me. I was not meshing with it at all, and that may be the ultimate reason next to the plot and slowness of why this book ended up not working for me. Not every writing style is for everyone, and this one just wasn’t there for me.

I did like the sapphic romance elements in this book, however. I thought had I cared about the characters and had there been some better relationship development I could have really liked this book. I wanted a princess/villain sapphic romance story, but this book was just not it for me.

Alas, I’m sure another one will come along at some point that will be for me. For now, I do think people will enjoy this book, but in this case it was a mix of me and the book being an issue here. The combination of those two things just made the book not likeable for me.