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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  8,896 ratings  ·  2,510 reviews
The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Balzer + Bray
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KristynRene SwissCheese JellyBean Ignore the other answer. This book is a masterpiece of poetry. It is entirely metaphorical and filled to the brim with symbolism. This book will help …moreIgnore the other answer. This book is a masterpiece of poetry. It is entirely metaphorical and filled to the brim with symbolism. This book will help you grow. Or it will destroy you. Either way, the ending is the best part. (less)
Tatiana This is not a romance at all. I would say this book is the opposite of a romance.

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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,896 ratings  ·  2,510 reviews

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Emily May
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Secrets, like memories, do not disappear just because they are buried by snow or time or distance.

What an ugly, awful little book. I thought it was pretty awesome, too, but then I’m a fan of Arnold’s dark twisted feminist stories that most other people seem to hate.

It looks like Arnold is continuing her trend of writing horrible, depressing books that leave me in a constant state of anxiety while reading. What Girls Are Made Of ripped my heart to shreds last year, and this dark fairy tale ju
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
I honestly can't give this one a rating, and that is largely due to the number of triggers - including graphic sexual assault, rape, self-harm, mental and physical abuse, suicide, and animal harm. Please please please be aware of that while making a decision on whether or not this book is for you. I sincerely hope the publisher adds warnings to the book itself and to the description on Goodreads. (More below...)

First off, the writing is gorgeous. Elana is extremely talented. This is a feministic
For once, a book I'd suggested got picked by my beloved real life YA book club. Delighted to see not everyone hated it. Hooray!

Upon reread, my rating still stands, although when you know how this story will unfold, the tension is not quite as high. Still, very affecting, and I adore the ending.

Also #yard is a very upsetting word.
Printz Honor 2019

Called it! Called it!

Original review

4.5 stars

Oh boy, this novel is going to get so many 1-star reviews! This is what happens when a book like thi
destiny ♡ howling libraries
When I first heard about this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I saw it hailed as a dark fairytale retelling, but I’ve been promised that many times by other stories that delivered on the “retelling” while leaving aside any hints of the “dark” aspect. Damsel, on the other hand, is exactly what it promises—an incredibly dark fantasy story that pulls no punches.

“That is the way of being a woman, to carve away at herself, to fit herself to the task, but, also, to be able to carve herself in
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“For Emory to take his father’s place as king, he must do as his father had done, and his father before him. He must conquer a dragon and rescue a damsel, and take that maiden as his bride.”

I get what this book was trying to do, I really do, and I appreciate it, but I just don’t personally think it was well done. This is a play on the “damsel in the tower, guarded by a dragon, and a brave knight comes to sav
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

Books like these are why I often find myself at opposite ends of the majority of the book-reviewing community. I don't typically like what's popular because I don't like what's predictable or easy; I like books that are raw and difficult and dark and challenge me and the way that I see the world, even if it means heartbreak and tears and playing hours of Animal Crossing to get myself back into the happy zone.

Despite the slightly rough be
Mara YA Mood Reader
**Skip this. Read Amy Harmon’s The Bird and the Sword instead

I don’t know how the heck I even got here. And I don’t know how the heck some books make it through publishing. Books like this. And why books like this are being marketed as YA when they are clearly not.

I think the main idea here was interesting. And I guessed it right away. The origin of the damsel. And if this were a true YA book it could have been something great.

But it was just so flat.

I was bored from page one.

The openin
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
2.5 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Damsel has an absolutely gorgeous cover, one of the loveliest I’ve seen, with a glowing title wound about with vines, bleeding hearts and other flowers.


But on closer examination there’s something just a little bit off about the cover image. An anatomically correct heart. A golden spur with a myriad of sharp points. A dragon’s pointed tail. It’s a bit disturbing. And it’s an apt metaphor for the contents of Elana K. Arnold’s book, where the fa
Charlotte May
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“It is a Kings world in which we find ourselves, Ama. A woman, you see, is a vessel. And it is a vessels duty to be filled.”

4 stars ⭐️

What an absolutely ferocious retelling of the Princess in the Tower!

Prince Emory of Harding knows his place. In order to become King he must slay a dragon and rescue a damsel. Once his task is complete he brings the damsel home to become his wife and future Queen.

Ama is said damsel. She remembers nothing from before her rescue. Nothing of her past, her family,
Apr 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018-reads, arcs, fantasy
This book is fucking terrible.

“Damsel” tells the story of a prince off to slay a dragon and rescue a girl who he will take home to be his queen. When she awakes she has no memory of her rescue, her family or her very name and is left at the mercy of the prince who takes her back to his kingdom and mother, but things are not as they seem and she soon finds herself struggling to come to terms with her present while hunting for the answers in her past.

Where to begin because holy shit. How about w
Hannah Greendale
Topical and beautifully written. Predictable and painfully on the nose. Wildly bizarre in the last three pages.
Charlotte Kersten
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
***BEWARE OF SPOILERS!*** Rating: we start at 5 stars:
- Bestiality: -1 star
- 'Yard'? Can't body parts be named properly if we already are considering bestiality? There is a whole chapter in there aptly named 'The King's Yard', in which they valiantly try to discuss the aforementioned 'yard'. And I'm not kidding. -1 star
+ Some ideas that I loved (see above): +1 star
- Some ideas I hated (see above): -1 star
+- Feminism: eh... while it's totally cool, we should consider that (view spoiler)
Vicky Again
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Content Warnings: (view spoiler)

This is not a book for everyone, but it was the book for me.

I can feel all the people cringing away from this book, and this is very valid and no one will fault you for not reading it. It's a very graphic book marketed towards the YA audience, and DNFing is a completely valid thing to do.

As you can see by the long list of trigger warnings, this can be very dark and VERY surprising
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars.

I would need a thesaurus to describe just how much I loved Damsel. What started as trepidation based on the rating turned into excitement and love the more I got into the story. And by the time I finished it, I absolutely loved Damsel.

Before I get into my review, Damsel is not for the faint of heart as the story does deal with a lot of subject matter including but not limited to: sexual assault, animal abuse, rape, self-harm, and more. The content of the story can be dark and hard to get
When Ama awakes with no memory to her prince telling her he saved her from an evil dragon, she’s forced to believe it. But not everything is as it seems.

This book was- disturbing and gripping at the same time. The feminist and dark themes tackled were hard at times but incredibly vital. Overall, it was pretty good! Not amazing, but I definitely loved the ending
Jeff Zentner
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elana Arnold is a master of writing the struggles of young women and the violence they endure. DAMSEL is a story that feels both modern and ancient, a harrowing and compelling gothic fairytale of a young woman passing through fire to reclaim herself. It reads like a pre-Grimm-Brothers fairytale, before they were sanitized bedtime stories, when they went to the darkest reaches of the human heart to bear witness of who we really are.

You will not be able to put this book down. You will not be able
alana ♡
tw: rape, physical/sexual/emotional assault, mentions of suicide & self harm

There were things I really loved about this and then there were other things that legitimately turned  my stomach. Because of that I've been struggling on what to rate this book. I simply can't justify the things I loved without shedding light on the topics I had trouble with because HOLY TRIGGERS, there's a lot. But at the same time I can't write a review on the things I had trouble with without recognizing the things I
ғᴏᴜʀ⋆⁵ sᴛᴀʀs

One should not make a pet out of a wild beast.

♫ sᴏɴɢ ʀᴇᴄ ♫ ~ Castle (HALSEY)

·★· ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴏɴᴇ ~ ɪɴɪᴛɪᴀʟ ᴛʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛꜱ ·★·

Honestly, my brain is still processing this gorgeous piece of literature. For now all I'll say is this; when Nenia Campbell gives a book 5 stars you best drop everything to read it. That ending. So freaking satisfying.

·★· ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴛᴡᴏ ~ ᴛʜᴇ ʙʀᴇᴀᴋᴅᴏᴡɴ ·★·

·★· 𝗙𝗜𝗥𝗦𝗧 𝗧𝗛𝗜𝗡𝗚𝗦 𝗙𝗜𝗥𝗦𝗧 ·★· I just want to say, DAMSEL is not a romance. I'm not sure why, but I went in thinking it wa
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sunny ✨wordslikefury✨
This is the most weirdly horrific book I've ever read in my entire life.

"One should not make a pet out of a wild beast."

Told through the classic "prince saves the damsel in distress from the big bad dragon" tale, Elana K. Arnold explores the most severe forms of sexism through the unique creation of her fantasy world. Prince Emory must find a dragon, save the damsel, and then marry her in order to become a true King. This is how it has always been, and this is how it will always be. So when
Eva B.
This is a slow-burn of a book, and I loved it. It might be because it reminded me of a short story I wrote back in fall, but this is the type of dark fantasy I enjoy. I especially loved Ama and Sorrow/Fury (the scenes with her were very hard to read because she reminds me of my own cat), and I would fight Prince Emory without hesitation.
There were some lines and phrasing that I really disliked though, since they didn't really fit with the tone of the story. For example, "mother's juice" was used
↠ 3.5 stars

I received a copy in exchange for a honest review.

This is going to be such a divisive book; looking down the ratings my friends have given it on Goodreads, there is such a variation between 4 stars and 2 stars. It is a dark, provocative and slightly terrible novel, but it doesn’t promise to be anything different. It is a book about the treatment of women in a world dominated by men, and it is depressing.

Before I go on, I want to state something: I don't believe this book can be easil
Amy Risner
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books, 2018-arcs
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, this is going to be one of those books with very polarizing reviews. You’re either going to love it, hate it, or be in the middle (like me) where you like the writing and message, but you’re also shaking your head going, WTF?

Firstly, here are the trigger warnings: Sexual assault/rape, mental and physical abuse, harm to animals, suicide and self harm (it’s discussed), imprisonment.

Even though this is a dark fairy t
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Even almost two months later I don't really know how to describe this book...
But I really admire Elana K. Arnold and I really think that books like hers are very important and can even change your perspectives somehow. I really wish I had read her books back when I was a teenager.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
This was a very dark book, and went the opposite way that I expected altogether. The “twist” wasn’t even a twist, and the entire book is stuffed with so much disgusting content that it became repulsive. It is also very dark, and the supposed good ending is dark in its own way. The messages that are portrayed in this book are horrible, as the King’s mother simply tells the damsel that even if you’re suffering, it’s simply the way it’s always been. I won’t even bother talking about the king, as he ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the Prince-rescues-Princess-from-Dragon book you expect, but it may very well be the book that you—or someone you know—needs.

Embrace your Sorrow.

Free your Fury.

Be the Dragon.
buddy read with the beautiful Karen and Laysa (so glad you joined us!).

this was quite a book. i completely understand the mixed reviews, because it was an incredibly intense book, and definitely not light-hearted in the slightest. it was honestly quite terrifying and depressing, with abuse in all shapes and forms, and incredibly realistic abuse at that. it made me squirm with digust at spots and cry with anger at others, but the ending astounded me, and quite honestly blew me away.
i have soooo
h o l l i s
Guuuuys I think my reading mojo is baaack. Because while I could hardly tear myself away from my last read, I was pretty much incapable of putting this down. DAMSEL consumed me.

All kings, for as far back as our memory goes, are made the same way. The prince must venture alone away from Harding. He must find the dragon. He must conquer the dragon, and free the damsel from captivity. When he returns home with his prize, he has proven himself worthy of the crown and is made king.

This is a weird d
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
April 16 2020

I was going to rate this a one star because I really felt that this book was a complete man hating title but coming back to it a second time to finish it helped me to realize that I hate it less.

Don't get me wrong it does imply that all men are evil but it also showcases a lot of the things that you've either heard growing up as a female or have heard other friends, family members or coworkers experience. Things like always having to be aware of yourself and your body. Being hyper c
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ELANA K. ARNOLD writes books for and about children and teens. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis where she has taught Creative Writing and Adolescent Literature. Her most recent YA novel, DAMSEL, is a Printz Honor book, Her 2017 novel, WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her middle grade novel, A BOY

Articles featuring this book

  Ellen Oh is an award-winning author of middle grade and young adult novels such as Spirit Hunters, The Dragon Egg Princess, and A Thousand...
52 likes · 11 comments
“She was too much and not enough, both in the same instant. Too big and too small; too bright and too dull; too affectionate and not affectionate enough.” 15 likes
“I made you beautiful,” Emory said again, again. “You keep saying that,” Ama answered. “But I did not ask for your beauty. I made beauty all on my own. I did not need you then.” 11 likes
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