There’s something so intriguing about twisting fairytales to a story that is both familiar and entirely new. I’m personally a big sucker for it, but when I tell you no retelling has ever gripped me as much as Malice’s concept has, I am for once not exaggerating! Heather Walter’s debut is a dark sleeping beauty retelling which…okay, I guess. The catch? It’s told from the villain’s point of view—that’s right: Maleficent! Interesting for sure. But the catch has another catch and…it has a SAPPHIC romance between AURORA and MALEFICENT?
The distant screaming you hear is me, and no I’m not okay. Heather Walter, you own my soul.
Can you tell I’m enthusiastic about this? Because I sure am! It’s finally time to scream about how this book and its ending emotionally ruined me (without spoiling anything, of course!). There’s so much to it and—let’s just take a walk, shall we?
This review is completely spoiler-free!
Malice by Heather Walter
Publisher: Del rey
Release date: April 13th, 2021
Representation: sapphic main character and love interest, sapphic relationship
Trigger/Content warnings: blood, death of a sibling, homophobia, murder, non-consensual kissing, self harm (to draw blood for magic), past suicides
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.
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.
Let me just tell you: reading this book was…an experience. It’s incredibly intense and, especially towards the ending, one big rollercoaster. If you don’t know it, I’m a very loud and expressive reader: I scream, I talk, I gasp
and I cry. Quite a lot. But when I was finishing this, I think I was literally on the verge of madness. There’s some footage of me talking to myself, but I will spare you that…
But let’s go back to the start for a bit. Malice has a lot of build-up. And when I say a lot, I mean a massive amount of build-up. It’s extremely slow and sometimes it even feels like everything that happens doesn’t really matter? Sure, it intrigued me and I wanted to find out more and more, but it didn’t feel like we were really making progress with the story or anything.
Turns out that was all just the calm before the storm. Because as we all know, a storm only hits harder that way, and oh boy did this one hit and destroy everything!
I do want to say this: I’m a reader who mostly likes build-up and a slower pacing, so if you don’t…this book probably really won’t be for you. But I feel like Heather Walter made a good choice here by including so much build-up, because for me it made the ending so much more effective.
Now, let’s delve into some more specifics instead of just saying THAT ENDING?? over and over again. Our main character here, Alyce, was such an interesting one. I loved viewing this world and everything that was happening through her eyes. Her emotions really sparked off the page, as well as all her inner conflict (there’s A LOT of that). The psychology freak in me got a little enthusiastic because, well, Alyce has many layers to her and thus it’s so much fun to analyse her.
But then you have that romance and…I’m deceased. The sapphic yearning was truly something else! I mean like…there’s exactly 350 pages before they give into their feelings and if that’s not slow burn, I don’t know what is! Aurora was a badass character though and I loved her dynamic with Alyce so much. Everything between them felt so natural despite everything and…I’m definitely trash for them. (The romance was also written SO WELL, by the way!)
And that’s when things really start to go down. All the build up starts to make more and more sense and I’m just staring at the page like wHAT? and screaming a little bit. When I thought the big twist was there, Heather Walter decided to throw in one more and I—I’m honestly such a mess because wow. That was genius and heartbreaking and left me absolutely devastated and in need of the sequel.
Malice ends on such a big cliffhanger that I can already feel that every day without the sequel is gonna drive me more and more into madness. The thing with this ending, though, is that it can go so many ways from now and I’m terrified of Heather Walter’s power over me. Only one thing’s for sure: I will run towards the bookstore the day the sequel arrives.
So if you can’t tell: I’m absolutely obsessed with this twist on the tale of sleeping beauty, full of dark vibes, a villain pov, a sapphic romance that made me wanna die, and of course an ending that will emotionally ruin you! So I’d say, if there’s a chance you would appreciate the build-up, pick this up and get immersed in this world and its characters! I’m gonna go process this some more…
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions in any way.
At this point I don’t even know if I’m breathing anymore, but that’s okay because everything for the angsty sapphics, am I right? Either way, I think it’s time for me to leave you to check out this book. Don’t mind me, I’m just manifesting the sequel to be here fast! But, what’s a book that left you in need of a sequel?