Review | Misrule (Malice Duology #2) by Heather Walter (ARC)

Title: Misrule (Malice Duology #2) by Heather Walter

Published: May 10, 2022

Genre(s): fantasy, retelling, LGBT, romance

Read as: ebook, eARC

Rating: 2

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce has spent 100 years wreaking her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. No one escapes the consequences of her wrath. 

Not even the one person who holds her heart. 

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But that love came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break, and their dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash. 

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means descending into the monster Briar believed her to be. But could Aurora ever love the villain Alyce has become? 

Or is true love only for fairy tales? (Goodreads)

This eARC was provided to me through Netgalley and the publisher.

Well, where do I even begin? When I read Malice in 2021 I fell absolutely in love. That book is one of the best retellings I have ever read. The characters were clearly defined and had great development arcs, the story was engrossing and had my interest from page one, and it got me emotionally attached to the characters very quickly. Malice was one of my favorite reads of 2021, so when I was offered to read Misrule early, I jumped in feet first and fully ready to fall back in love with this story and this world.

In case you missed my two star rating, that did not happen.

This is one of those books that would have been better as a novella. Or, even better, with a complete rewrite. The atmosphere and overall vibe of the first book went completely out the window. Every time a good opportunity for character development popped up it was very quickly squashed. The amount of whining and pining and childish behavior in this book is distressing. You’d think a character that was over 100 years old would be a little more emotionally developed. My 8 year old has more emotional depth than whoever it is that Alyce has changed into.

As a side note, this book is pitched for the adult audience. In Malice, I absolutely felt that. Misrule? Not so much. There are creatures in this book called imps and I feel like they were likely meant to provide some levity but they quickly became a childish crutch for every chapter. They were absolutely comedic and for every issue or speed bump Alyce encountered, the jovial (if slightly morbid) imps were there. Think food fights, dressing people up in weird costumes, cartwheeling like circus clowns. The imps were a constant presence and added absolutely nothing positive to this story.

Are you a fan of slow moving plots? So slow moving that you doze off while reading? Then maybe you’d like this book because let me tell you this one was SLOW. For every step the story took forward it took two more back. I felt like the characters were just chasing themselves around and around and around. Not to mention one of the proposed main plot points is a big, overarching battle with the Fae and it keeps getting teased. And there are meetings discussing it. But nothing worth noting about this supposed war really shows up until you are well over the 75% mark. By then I was so bored I could hardly even pay attention because guess what? It was another part of the plot chasing itself by taking a step forward and then erasing that step with some sort of ridiculous and unnecessary drama.

Overall, I wanted so much to love this book. I wanted to return to this word with Aurora and Alyce and watch their brave new world unfold. Instead, I was bored to sleep on more than one occasion. If Malice had not been so fantastic, perhaps I would have felt better about Misrule but, as it is, this book is probably going down as one of my most disappointing reads of the year.

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