Title: Malice by Heather Walter
Published: April 13, 2021
Genre(s): fantasy, romance, retelling, LGBT
Read as: ebook, eARC
Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who cursed a line of princesses to die, and 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 actually cares about what happens to our princesses. I thought I didn’t care, either. Until I met her.
Princess Aurora. The last heir to the throne. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. 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 (Goodreads)
Look, let me just shout it out right now…this book was so good! I’ve read many books that like to claim to be villain origin stories and fairy-tale retellings but Malice? Malice takes home the gold medal. We have a winner folks, every one else go home.
But not really, keep giving me villain origin stories. I love them. But Malice is simply superb.
Disney has shoved the concept of the princess Aurora, her handsome prince, a kiss, and happily ever after down our throats for decades. I’m not even a Disney fan and I know the story. The lovely princess is cursed to sleep forever, only to be woken by true love’s kiss.
But, how did she get there?
In Malice we follow Malyce, or Alyce, a Dark Grace that is chained to a Grace House in the city of Briar with her strange and unique powers at the beck and call of whoever can pay for her services. The other Graces all are charmed to grant beauty, wisdom, kindness, and a bevy of other things that the elite long to have and are able to pay for. Alyce, well, Alyce grants curses. Warts, disfigurements, ailments, and on occasion she is required by the palace to “ease” the passing of someone beyond the scope of a Healing Grace.
Alyce hates her life and is ridiculed and bullied by all of the other Graces. Her patrons meet her in secret and though they pay for her services in private they would never accept her in public. That is, until she meets Aurora. Aurora is the last living princess and if she does not kiss her one true love by her 21st birthday she will die, struck down by a curse that has lasted generations. Aurora accepts Alyse exactly as she is although neither woman is willing at first to admit aloud the feelings that bloom between them.
What follows is a series of circumstances that are heartbreaking but you just can’t look away.
There is little more I love in a story than a sympathetic villain and Malice makes you feel for Alyce and the life she never asked to lead. She didn’t want to grant curses and cause harm to others. She didn’t want to be hated and feared by everyone around her. She didn’t want to be a pawn. But life very rarely gives you what you want and for Alyce it is no different.
I would would highly recommend this book to fans of retellings, origin stories, and fierce female leads. It is well written, engaging, and gives you a tragic glimpse into the story of one of Disney’s greatest villains.