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Damsel

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3.46  ·  Rating details ·  4,482 ratings  ·  1,415 reviews

*A 2019 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book*

A dark, twisted, unforgettable fairy tale from Elana K. Arnold, author of the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This i

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Kindle Edition, 305 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Balzer + Bray
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Taylor Sanders I think the ending will have you feeling glad that it’s over. It’s an uncomfortable read. So when it’s over you’ll be happy about it.
Tatiana This is not a romance at all. I would say this book is the opposite of a romance.
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Community Reviews

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3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,482 ratings  ·  1,415 reviews


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Emily May
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 just
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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
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Tatiana
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Margo Lanagan, Catherynne M. Valente
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 this is marketed as YA. Are there going to be any teens that would read and like it? I doubt it. This is a novel created for lovers of literary fantasy and ugly ancient fairy tales. It is written in a simple language, it does not have a lot of characters or drama. It is quiet and dreamlike. It might get a Printz nod (I hope) from librarian
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Melanie
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 save her” b
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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 a diff
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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.

description

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
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Hannah Greendale
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Topical and beautifully written. Predictable and painfully on the nose. Wildly bizarre in the last three pages.
Mackenzi
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Okay. So. Holy shit. Yes. This book. Yes.
Candace Robinson
I'm all about equality for everyone, but I felt like this book definitely put men to shame, and that's a real effing shame.

Also, Emory was a weird guy, like sometimes he felt cocky but okay, but then he would have these strange times where he'd do weird things like drag Ama around by a leash. Another thing was, I hated Ama too, so it was hard for me to feel sorry for her, or anyone really. I think I felt sorry for Tillie the most—she needed to get the hell out of that castle! Pawlin was also sup
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Mads
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: underrated-gems
THIS BOOK WAS SO FUCKING GOOD

Omg I need time to recover from how badass that ending was. Lemme start off by saying this book made me uncomfortable. From Emory's manipulation (I wanted to kill that motherfucker from the start) to the sexual assault scenes. But books like this are meant to be uncomfortable. They call out misogyny and disgusting behaviors our society tolerates and show how wrong that is. We should never be comfortable with the horrors women face.

I've seen so many negative reviews o
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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡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)
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Brittany
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2019-read
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
Jackie
Apr 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads, fantasy, arcs
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
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Vicky Who Reads
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
5 stars

TW: rape, self-harm, abuse, animal abuse, graphic violence, bestiality

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 know that you don't have to read it, and no one will fault you for not reading it. I can feel all the DNFs coming this way, as 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 da
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Jeff Zentner
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 thin
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Sabrina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mara YA Reader Reviewer
Dec 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
**Skip this. Read The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon instead** ( The Bird and the Sword (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles, #1) The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon



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
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Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
↠ 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
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Amy Risner
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
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Eli
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Charlotte
ARE YOU KIDDING ME NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL A FEMINIST YA FANTASY.
Rtc!!!!!!!!
Hollis
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
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Billie
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.
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 A
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Brooke — brooklynnnnereads
2.5 stars

First off, I don't even know where to even start when it comes to the trigger warnings for this novel. This was a very, very dark and graphic novel. Intentionally so, but the content had my stomach roiling at moments. Some of the trigger warnings involved in this novel would be for topics involving: abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual), animal abuse, consent, rape, suicide, depression, and self-harm. Guys, when I say this is a dark and heavily graphic story, know that I'm not exagger
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Allison C
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Angela
4.5 stars

Wow, what a powerhouse of an appalling, despairing, and poignant little novel.

This is not light fantasy fare, as the cover or YA categorization might make some believe, but rather a visceral and disturbing examination of the power structures that oppress women, both as they exist today and in the stories we tell (and have told) each other. I loved this book, though I did spend much of the book in a perpetual state of fear and dread, cringing about what would happen next. I cried once;
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Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This is quite a unique, feminist fairy tale! First- let me just put out a trigger warning for... Idk, literally everything? Perhaps I should have made more note of this as I was reading, but I didn't, so just... lots of awful junk goes down, but if you are able to read it, it does lead to a story that will make you as furious about our misogynist society as you need to be.

It poses, at fi
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Mellie Antoinette
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. WTH did I just read?
That story.
That ending! 😲
So dark.
Macabre. That’s the only word needed to describe this book. Not what it seems. A black fire-breathing raven in the dark of night screaming for its never more. Sorrow turned to fury melted to glass. Just wow.
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YA Buddy Readers'...: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold - Restarting July 17th 2019 14 23 Jul 19, 2019 06:16AM  

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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
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“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.” 2 likes
“At last Emory turned to leave, well pleased, and then a thought flashed through Ama’s mind, a realization that chilled her even more deeply than the rain –
This is how he likes me best… when I am in need of rescue.
2 likes
More quotes…