Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter

Goodreads: Malice (Malice Duology #1)
Publisher: Del Rey
Published: 13 April 2021
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Retelling

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

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.

TL;DR: Unpopular opinion time: this book was severely underwhelming. I didn’t hate or love it but to be honest, I was kind of bored throughout. It’s a slow-paced read and the whole time I felt like I was just waiting for something to happen and whatever I was waiting for wasn’t delivered. Although I loved reading about Alyce’s villain origin story, I didn’t feel particularly attached to her or any of the other characters we’re introduced to. Sadly, this one just didn’t live up to the hype for me but I’m definitely in the minority with my feelings!

I buddy read this with Leslie and sadly, both of us felt the same way about this book. I personally didn’t feel the stakes and I didn’t really connect to the characters which meant that I didn’t feel the romance. Despite the major info dumping that’s pretty consistent throughout the read, I still had so many questions and seriously, this really would’ve been a great book to have a map—I know I would’ve benefitted from it as many other lands/countries were mentioned but their presence was kinda vague and I had a hard time situating their locations in relation to Briar in my head.

I really appreciated the retelling aspect of it. It’s Cinderella meets Sleeping Beauty and it was refreshing! The SB aspects appear more towards the end of the book and I loved recognising the very familiar elements and seeing how Walters forms them in this story. I loved the diversity and representation and that it was a sapphic romance—who needs Prince Charming when you’ve got yourself a sorceress, right? But at the same time… I just wanted a bit more of certain things and a lot less of others.

The author remains pretty consistent with the pacing for the most part and it’s a slow one. There’s a lot of info dumping for a good chunk of the book. We are inundated with all this historical information about Vila, the light fae, the greedy humans, the war of the fae, all kinds of magic, bloodlines, rulers, etc., but so much ended up feeling irrelevant to the main story and yet it took up so much space. That’s not to say the history wasn’t interesting but I felt that the info was a bit vague and it got repetitive after a point. There was so much “general” information but not enough character and event-specific information. I got frustrated that Alyce didn’t push to learn more about her mother, father, and the identity of the original Vila and I still have questions about so much at the end!

Although I didn’t really connect with any of the characters in the story, the one I did sympathise with most was Alyce (naturally). I felt upset for everything she had to endure. I will never understand bullies who thrive on enacting cruelties upon others! Why is it that they never understand that the person they victimise is literally a product of their own making and then they act all surprised that they’re bitter and angry? Pls! 😡 It made me pretty sad for Alyce but I did love reading her “villain origin story”. I wanted to see her rage and unleash her power against the people who literally made her life hell cos they 100% deserved what came their way… With everything that happened, I never stopped rooting for her happiness and my heart broke every time something would get in the way of that. 

Sadly though, while I was interested in her character’s evolution, I also didn’t feel entirely invested in her or anyone else in the book. For the majority of the book, her relationship with Aurora felt platonic and maybe Alyce had a bit of a crush but I never got the indication that Aurora felt the same and it felt like too much telling and not enough showing. The other characters were a little cookie cutter and existed simply for Alyce’s development so we don’t get much from them either. I thought Laurel was perhaps the most entertaining with her dry quips and she definitely had my interest piqued though and I’m sad that we didn’t get more interaction there.

By the end of the story, I was definitely curious to know what happens next but at the same time, I’m not invested enough to continue with it either. I was really looking forward to reading this sapphic retelling but unfortunately, the overall story fell flat for me.

Have you read Malice or is it on your TBR?

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter

  1. GREAT Review!! I can’t believe you remember details so much later! I think I’ve started blocking it out of my mind bc it wasn’t the best. I think the sequel that I DNF’d just left me with negative feelings all over. haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, this “review” was in my notes from the time we finished reading it I just didn’t remember to post it (honestly totally forgot about it until I was looking for a book review to post to my blog the other day)! 😂 So, I definitely didn’t write it all now… I also remember very little of it now. Still so sad that this wasn’t a winner for us, Leslie! 😝

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oof, honestly, it’s great to see someone else who didn’t vibe with this because everyone else seems to have loved it so much? I was curious about what happens next but it seemed too messy and I was like nope, not even gonna put myself through that 😅 Hmm, maybe this wasn’t a 3-panda read after all… lol

      Liked by 1 person

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