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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2021)
A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

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.

470 pages, Hardcover

First published April 13, 2021

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About the author

Heather Walter

3 books1,418 followers
Heather Walter has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with both English and Information Science degrees, books are--and always will be--a definitive part of her life.

As an author, Heather loves writing about what-ifs, flawed protagonists, and re-imagined history. Her favorite characters are usually villains.

When not writing, you can find her reading (duh), knitting, binging TV, and planning her next travel adventure.

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5 stars
7,033 (32%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,211 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,198 reviews40.7k followers
August 3, 2022
Who needs Prince Phillip to break her curse when she has a misjudged, quite lovable evil sorcerer! Yes, my friends, this is creative, sappy, angsty, intriguing, captivating retelling of Sleeping Beauty!

After reading this quite tempting blurb and magnificent cover, eventually I started scream : “I WANT THIS ASAP!” Thanks to the publishers heard my cry for help and they didn’t reject me this time!

You know how the fairy tale stars, a wicked, vengeful fairy curses the princess to die : a curse could be only broken by true love kiss. But in that case: princess does not need a knight in shiny armor, a sexy prince or Christian Grey to break the curse! ( Christian Grey only works to break my morning curse: I’m heavy sleeper!)

Princess Aurora actually needs Alyce who is branded, humiliated, shamed as villain because she has gifts: horrifyingly darker, mind blowing gifts you cannot ever imagine. She is outcasted, labeled as monster and abandoned to live a lonely life.

But is she really the villanelle of this story? Because everyone in the Briar only cares about jewelries, glamorous parties they throw, charm-granting elixirs they use. They’re selfish, hedonistic, self centered people who never care about princess or future of Briar if she really dies!
Only one who thinks and care about the princess is Alyce: Dark Grace, who is powerful enough to end her life. But does she really want it? Only one year left for Prince Aurora to break the curse and survive! If Alyce helps her, they can change the future by forging a brand new world! But will she do it? Both her and princes are not so different: they are both caged in their own prisons and they need to find their ways to freedom.

There are some plot holes in the story that I wish were written differently ( I cannot exactly tell those points without giving spoilers so I’m shutting my mouth ) but I mostly enjoyed the detailedly depicted, unique, mesmerizing world building.

I truly loved Alyce and the author’s different approach to the villanelle’s mind and her true feelings. In the regular fairytale universe there is strict line between good and evil: but the author shows that there are so many grey areas and evil we thought can have goodness and light in her/his heart just like the good ones have dark sides. Their choices define who they are, not their abilities or powers!

Well, I’m giving 3.5 stars and I’m happily rounding them up to 4 original, breathtaking, well-developed, smart, new age fairy tale stars!

I think I enjoyed this version of fairytale more and I don’t say no to a sequel!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/ Ballantine/ Del Rey for sharing this digital copy of this anticipated novel in exchange my honest opinions.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews112k followers
August 19, 2022
A pretty straightforward and slightly campy YA retelling. If you’re an easy fan of those then this will do the trick. If you’re more critical of YA tropes, simplistic writing style, and predictable plot twists then you probably won’t like this debut. My rating is very biased because I like villain origin stories, sapphic romance, and fairytale retellings (Sleeping Beauty has a special place in my heart for undisclosed reasons) so it was easier for me to be engaged. What I liked best about Malice was the worldbuilding surrounding the Graces and their magic. This was an interesting way to develop the fairy godmothers from the original story and their different dynamics between each other. I would’ve preferred more of a focus on this than the obvious [redacted] as the conflict. Also wish it was a lil darker and grittier (this is a villain origin story, after all!) but maybe we’ll get more of that in the sequel.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,537 reviews9,793 followers
May 17, 2023
Once upon a time an Evil Fairy cursed a line of Princesses to die. The only way to break the curse was with true love's kiss. You probably think you've heard this story...

I'd say, not quite like this.

In Malice, Heather Walter has put her own darkly creative spin on the beloved classic, Sleeping Beauty.

This tale follows Alyce, a Dark Grace, who has lived in a house of Beauty Graces since she was just a young girl.

While the wealthy of Briar set appointments with the other Graces to enhance their beauty, they go to Alyce for more sinister potions and tinctures.

Alyce has never fit in with the other girls and is frequently harassed by them; particularly by the beautiful and talented, Rose.

As deplorable as their treatment of her is, Alyce grows used to it. She even comes to accept it.

That's why when she crosses paths with the last Princess, Aurora, and is shown kindness, Alyce isn't quite sure how to react. Why would the Princess want to be friends with her? It doesn't make sense.

In the midst of all of this, Alyce actually stumbles upon, and befriends someone else. A man named, Kal, who is magically imprisoned in a tower. He promises to teach her how to harness her powers.

Through her meetings with him, Alyce begins to learn more about her history, potential and the world outside of Briar.

The world Walter created within this story was absolutely immersive. I loved the magic system. Learning about the Graces and their powers, but also the interactions with Fae and the history of Briar, was so enjoyable.

It's richly detailed, but in a way that stays engaging. Alyce was a fantastically created character. I felt her every emotion; also extra points for including her kestrel, Callow. Three cheers for animal companions.

The dynamic of the Graces reminded me a lot of Dhonielle Clayton's, The Belles; sometimes too much beauty can be downright scary. I enjoy this ominous feel so much.

I also thought the relationship between Alyce and Aurora was well done. It felt natural. The stakes were really high and it definitely helped push the drama of the story.

The end dragged on a bit for me, but overall, I was so impressed with this. I would definitely recommend Malice for Readers who enjoy the darker side of fairy tales.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review.

I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to reading more from Heather Walter!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,464 reviews9,619 followers
February 18, 2022
*Reread - 4.5 Stars

Holy Wickedness!!!!!!!

Alyce - Malyce - The Dark Grace - Part Vila ....... and other things.

This is the ya fantasy book that should be like all ya a fantasy books. Oh, and before I forget, let’s take a moment to admire that beautiful cover -CUE ELEVATOR MUSIC....

Now that’s done let me tell you how much I love Alyce. She’s wicked but not really wicked and she’s also something else entirely. BUT, when you beat someone down all of their life at some point shit’s going to hit the fan.

Oh and she has this beautiful Kestrel she saved from dying as a baby and her name is Callow. She had a frog too.

Anywayyyyy..... Alyce becomes friends with Princess Aurora and it’s just wonderful until some twats come along and mess it up. And some other friends turn on her and that gets messed up and people want to use her, kill her, etc and so on.

At some point your girl is gonna break! I’m not saying any more, you’ll have to read it for yourself and decide if you like it. I loved it!! 😘

I’m sooooo looking forward to these books and will be adding to my collection.

*I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House for a digital copy of this book!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

Profile Image for Melanie.
1,169 reviews98.2k followers
March 16, 2022
“I’m frightened of this feeling that consumes me and promises to rip free of my body and set the entire palace ablaze. Of the way I want to taste every part of her. Devour her whole.”

sleeping beauty, told from a fae villain's perspective, and completely for the sapphics. this was truly one of the best books i've read in a long while. i loved the writing, the setting, the descriptions, and obviously the characters. this was so well done and so impressively crafted. and i was absolutely living for the twists and turns. i don't necessarily know what i was expecting from this, but all i know is that i was delivered so much more that i could have ever dreamed to imagine! but that ending, whewwww! one of the best debuts, retellings, and just books i've ever read. i loved this completely and with my whole heart.

trigger and content warnings: a lot of blood imagery (human blood, animal blood, getting blood for spells), kidnapping, talk of child abandonment, talk of child experimentation in the past, loss of a loved one, anxiety depiction, captivity, mention of slavery, drug use, brief mention of suicide, torture, gore, violence, murder, death. (also themes of homophobia and misogyny - always in a negative light)

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Profile Image for Era ➴.
215 reviews523 followers
May 2, 2022
Trigger Warnings: verbal abuse, mentions of suicide, some homophobia.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC!
LMAO so apparently I missed the publication date for this

3.5 stars because I'm indecisive

I’m not really sure if “Malice” was supposed to be a villainous retelling. On one hand, it did tell the side of the fairy tale from the witch’s perspective. On the other hand, Alyce wasn’t really a villain in the first place, so I’m not sure if it really applies. She was perceived as evil, or at least lesser, but she didn’t really have the darkness or the evil drive.

“I know what they will say of me, those who escape to the realms beyond the sea. The Vila who cursed the lovely princess. Trapped her in a tower, never to wake. Razed Briar to the ground for spite.”

The concept of this book was definitely interesting. It’s a Sleeping Beauty retelling from the perspective of the wicked fairy - in which she and the cursed princess fall in love. First of all, YES LGBTQ+ REPRESENTATION THANK YOU YES.

Also, I am trash for fairy tale retellings because I don’t have the time or the energy to focus on whitewashed misogynistic homophobic princess books. So I LIVE for these diverse books.

“A princess and a Dark Grace. Quite the pair.”

I was definitely intrigued by the world-building of this book. The kingdoms, the geography and the history were described in a lot of depth, which is kind of rare for most books. I thought that was a nice touch. I also liked the magic system, and how the different creatures had their own types of magic.

“I am reviled and despised for the very reasons I’m sought out. A figure of dark, evil magic. A member of a race all but stamped out. A Vila.
A monster.”

Alyce is part-Vila, which are basically similar to demons. The Vila were dark and evil creatures before they were terminated, which makes everyone else treat Alyce with contempt (wow, imagine being treated badly because of your race - that doesn’t sound familiar at all). However, she works as a Grace - an Etherian-blessed human whose magical blood is used in elixirs to bestow gifts upon humans.

Alyce’s Vila magic works in the opposite way that Grace magic works. Graces can bless someone with beauty or wit. Alyce can curse someone with ugliness or clumsiness. As such, she’s called the Dark Grace.

“Obsessed with charm and beauty and whatever other fripperies those Graces can dish out. Mark my words, Alyce. When the Etherians created the Graces, they weren’t doing us a favor.”

It’s a lot to explain. I thought the world-building was incorporated pretty smoothly into the narrative, but a lot of people have said that it was info-dumping for the first part of the book. I guess that makes sense, since a lot of the history was introduced in chunks and long stories, but I felt like they went along with the storyline pretty well.

“I’ll never be a heroine like Leythana. In Briar, I’ll only ever be a villain.”

The plot was definitely pretty different than the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. In this one, the witch falls in love with the princess, and the true-love’s-kiss curse was placed by someone else. It didn’t really focus on the romance for a while. More of it was focused on Alyce’s development.

That was definitely one of the best parts of this book. At the beginning, Alyce believed that her magic was dark and evil and wrong, she had very low self-esteem, and she based her opinion of herself on the opinions of others - all of which were bad. And then she found out that she was more powerful than she thought, and that her heritage had a secret side to it.

“A terrifying part of my soul whispers that I can do far more than spoil a jug of cream. That I want to.”

Alyce’s arc from a wretched Grace in her dark “lair” to someone more powerful and self-aware was probably the key aspect of the storyline. It was something like a self-acceptance narrative.

“I’m better than this. More than the villain they’ve created. I close my eyes, consider tapping into the magic of the wood and stones and mortar of this house and bringing it all down around their ears.
But I do not. Because I’m a coward.”

I loved her subtle conflict of wanting to be herself and being scared of her own power and the opinions it drew. She had a very believable “dark side” that she repressed because she knew that if she didn’t do it, someone else would.

“Much as I abhor being the Dark Grace, my blood’s power to thwart the Graces’ always gives me a rush of victory.”

I think her transition from just trying to keep to herself every day to experimenting with her powers was executed really well, especially with how her powers always seemed to oppose her desire to be “good”.

“I did that. With my power. Stole Rose’s Grace magic. Made a patron speak to her the way they all speak to me, contentious and spiteful. A delicious mix of elation and wonder surges as Aurora’s question from the library comes soaring back.
What else can I do?

The characterization was really well done for Alyce. For the other characters, I think it could have been better, but considering the length of this book that would have taken way too long.

Rose was seriously a bitch. She was the Beauty Grace working in the same house that Alyce worked in, and she was so condescending and rude and downright awful and she annoyed me to no end. I’m so tired of this whole “mean-girl” thing where there’s always one character who’s just an absolute bitch, but Rose pulled it off well. I enjoyed that she got more characterization and backstory to her actions, but the end of the book completely negated all of that and it felt useless by that point. I was hoping she would develop, but apparently not.

“Rose was wrong.” The silk of Laurel’s dressing gown rustles. “You’re not hated, Alyce. Not by all of us.”
The crisp points of the crumpled parchment dig into my palm. “Not by all,” I answer. “But by enough.”

Laurel was an interesting character. I liked her for the most part, but she also bothered me. Laurel was the Wisdom Grace who loved books and learning, but she just wouldn’t pick a side? For a while it seemed like she was Alyce’s only ally until she wasn’t? She was definitely one of the nicer characters and I liked that she helped Alyce in her own way, but by the end of the book I felt like she could have been a lot better.

“My gift compels me to tell you you’re treading on thin ice.” Laurel doesn’t even look up as she speaks. “You’re a sheep among wolves, Alyce.”
“Am I?” I start in on my egg, hand trembling slightly from the rush of so thoroughly enraging Rose. For a heartbeat, my nails appear as claws as I pick off a bit of shell. “Or am I the wolf, and they’re the sheep?”

Hilde was absolutely amazing and I have a suspicion that she’ll play some role in the next book. Seriously, this woman made so many hints about shit that it will make no sense if she’s not even mentioned. I have theories.

“There’s a reason you’re drawn to the first queen,” she says. “I know a bit of history, too. Enough to guess that there’s power in you, girl. More than you realize. I look forward to the day when you wake up and start using it.”

Kal...I don’t know what to say about him. He was definitely important to the story and he really helped Alyce a lot. He played a really big part in Aylce’s character development. I think the way he challenged her and taught her about her heritage and powers was so important.

“Dragon’s teeth, I’m in no mood for wordplay.” A wave pounds against the cliff.
“Are you not?” He snaps the book closed. “Because that is all I see in this book. Lies and trickery. And yet you write it on your heart. Demean yourself because of the opinions of”—he opens the front cover and sneers—“the illustrious Master Walburn. What gives him the right to tell you who you are?”

I can’t say a lot about him without spoilers, but his character was definitely a strong one.

“If you let me teach you…Your power will be unstoppable. You could bring the Etherian Mountains tumbling into the sea.”

Aurora was definitely not what I was expecting. She was rebellious and brave and outspoken, and I loved that she wasn’t the “sweet kind amiable perfect girl who needs a strong man” that Disney has brainwashed us into thinking all good princesses are.

“I wish I could be like you.”
“What?” I suck in air too fast and cough. That’s something I never thought I’d hear coming out of anyone’s mouth, much less a royal’s.
“I do.” There’s not a trace of doubt or mockery. “Destroy things and…” She drops her voice, studying the fountain. “People, even. Let out what simmers inside me. But I can’t. I’m too well trained. Ever grateful and graceful.”

The romance was good for the most part. The whole true-love’s-curse thing brought a whole new level to the fangirl part of my brain that kept screaming “JUST KISS” at my tablet.

“She huffs. “Don’t you trust me?”
No. Yes. My fickle heart can’t make up its mind. Once again, I’m dizzy with the feeling Aurora gives me. Like plunging toward the sea and hoping you’ll grow wings before you hit the surface.”

Aurora and Alyce’s relationship was so sweet and accepting and even though the way they met was kind of too close to insta-love for my liking, I’m not sure what else you expect from a fairy-tale retelling. Their chemistry at first was so obvious and the way they explored each others’ personalities was amazing.

“Forgive me, Your Highness.”
She bats the air. “Enough of that. I’m Aurora to you.”
“Aurora.” The syllables are full and bright on my tongue, tasting of summer berries and fizzy wine.”

However, I feel like their relationship development could have been delivered a lot better. It went from them meeting each other and having this chemistry to them spending more time together despite the repercussions...and then there was jealousy and angst and betrayal that was completely imagined? Alyce started feeling too jealous of Aurora’s suitors and blaming her for so much even though they didn’t even know they were in love?

They were great when their relationship started moving, but when they reached that stage where you’re supposed to, you know, figure out that you like the idiot...it just fell apart. And not in an intense, angsty-romance way. More like “I’m mad at you for doing something that I imagined because I was jealous even though I don’t know why I’m jealous”.

“She tucks a lock of my hair behind my ear. Smiles in that way that turns my heart into hot, melted wax.”

There was so much good content to their original relationship dynamic that I feel like the rest of it just didn’t work.

“You must think me a fool.”
“Not at all. I admire you. You’re nothing like…” I grapple for the right words, but they swish through my mind, slippery as eels. “What I thought.”
Her smile rivals the starlight. “I take that as an extreme compliment.”
“It is.” An inexplicable shyness nips at me and I fumble for a distraction.”

I think the romance’s original direction of acceptance and remaking the odds was the best part. Their trust and understanding was a little too automatic, but it made a lot of really beautiful content.

“It is both a relief and a terror to be around someone who doesn’t consider me an abomination. Applauds my power instead of shrinking from it.”

I also loved how natural the romance felt. That’s real representation - when LGBTQ+ relationships are shown as normal or simple, because that’s what they are. Well, that’s what they should be (they should probably be legalized first).

“She reaches for the vial. Our hands touch again. My scaly skin juxtaposed with her bronze-kissed glow. Light and darkness. Monster and maiden.”

Lastly, the writing. Some of it felt a little bit clunky at times, but mostly it really suited the book’s style and aesthetic. Heather Walter’s style is so pretty and I saved way too many quotes from the book because I just knew I needed to put them in my review. But I don’t know where to put them, so here are the quotes I couldn’t fit in:

“Against my own instinct, I find myself rushing on. “What else can it be? All I can summon is ugliness and pain.”
“Alyce.” I’ve never heard my name spoken that way before, with compassion, and it almost hurts. “You are so much more than that.”

“Remember what I said, Alyce. About monsters.” The words are low, spoken in a tone that wakes something deep in my core. “Take care you don’t become what they think you are.”

“What would Leythana think now, if she could glimpse the future her efforts had wrought?
I think she would burn it all down.”

“You were right. I’ve lived the lies Briar fed me from the day I drew breath. But I’m tired of being treated like a caged pet, let out only to entertain those who despise me.”

Overall, “Malice” delivered pretty well on its promise of a sapphic fairy-tale retelling. It took me a while to read and I feel like some of the plot points weren’t completely necessary, but it was executed really well. It dragged a bit too much for me and some of it just felt like too much of a stretch, but I'll definitely be waiting for the next book.
Profile Image for Chloe Gong.
Author 13 books19.5k followers
February 10, 2021
Viciously satisfying. Malice takes Sleeping Beauty and turns everything on its head, cutting right to the core of this bejewelled world. Heather Walter has given us a villain to adore.
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,705 followers
April 14, 2021
3.50 Stars. This was a quality book that I loved in some parts but struggled with some others. I just adore fairytale retellings, especially if they are sapphic. This was a book that I was dying to read and I had a lot of high expectations for it. In the end it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for but it was a well done book and impressive for a debut.

This was a real interesting mix that reminded me of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but with a lot of new imaginative elements thrown in. I’ve noticed that many reviewers have complained about how slow the first half of the book was and that the second half of the book is what really brought their rating up. I find it funny because I’m the exact opposite of everybody else. I loved the beginning. I thought this was going to be a full 5 star book there for quite a while but I didn’t enjoy the second half as much, which lowered my rating. Yes, parts of the beginning were slow, but I thought it was really well written. I thought the people, the magic system, and just all the world building in general was great. I was buying the whole history and how this magical world functioned and considering this was a retelling, I thought everything was really clever.

My problems came in the second half. I think Walter was trying to do too much and she started to loose me on her story choices. The first half was so set-up, everything had such a deliberate and steady pace to it, and in comparison the second half turned into a clusterf*ck. It was such a different pace that it was jarring to me. And I think Walter was trying to put too many important things into such a small section. We have a moderate twist, then after that a pretty big twist that has a little twist attached to it, then after that a giant twist. It was just way too much. So many things were not like they seemed so it made it that I no longer trusted the author to tell me the real story. I lost complete trust to the point that I started to wonder if what I was reading was real or if maybe it was a dream or vision instead. Unfortunately, in the end that feeling and distrust affected my enjoyment.

There has been some question is this is YA but I would call this New Adult instead. The characters are in their 20’s and there is some cruelty near the end that might bother some younger readers. There is one sex scene but it is just intimate and not explicit. In general, I liked parts of the romance, especially the pairing of the two characters, but I do hope that the romance is beefed up in book 2. The relationship needs to develop more and they really just need more time together as a couple.

Like other readers I was not crazy about the ending. That’s how this is all going to end? I was happy to see that it’s not really the end and that there is a second book. I actually added a half star onto my rating since I now have hope that there will be a better overall ending. Even with the problems I had in the second half of the book, I enjoyed the first half so much that I would absolutely read a book 2. Walter is obviously talented and I think she is only going to get better and better. I’ll happily take all the new and talented sapphic fantasy writers that I can read.

A copy was given to me for a review.
Profile Image for Madita.
522 reviews18.9k followers
March 11, 2023
3.5 stars

Full review will be in my 24hr readathon vlog
Profile Image for Becca & The Books.
312 reviews6,335 followers
April 21, 2021
“Once Upon A Time, There Was A Villain”

Malice is a Sleeping Beauty retelling with a twist. It’s told from the perspective of an Evil Fairy who falls in love with Aurora.

Alys has been raised in an environment where nobody can stand to be around her. Surrounded by the Graces - faeries who make elixirs that enhance the lives of their patrons - Alys just wants to be celebrated like her peers. However, she is The Dark Grace, incapable of bestowing anything but curses.
When an invitation to Princess Aurora’s masquerade birthday ball arrives, Alys seizes the chance to enjoy a night of freedom & fun where no-one will recognise or demonise her - pushing her into the path of the Princess herself who is desperately searching for a way to break the curse on her bloodline before it claims her life.

My favourite element of Malice was the worldbuilding, I love a fairytale-esque story and I really fell in love with the elaborate setting and exploring both the glamorous and darker facets of it through the eyes of Alys. The magic system and history of the world was also more complex than I expected which I adored.
We all know I love morally grey and villainous characters and I thought Alys’ character had a lot of nuance and progression, both on her own and how her story intertwines with Aurora’s.
Overall I would definitely recommend if you’re a fan of retellings or fairytale-esque stories with some cool twists and shocking betrayals. My only criticism is that I wish this book had gone a little bit darker but that is definitely a personal preference as we all know I’m a huge fan of my dark and twisted books!
Profile Image for theresa.
294 reviews4,310 followers
April 28, 2021
It has been a long time since a book has left me as utterly speechless as Malice did. I couldn’t read the final pages fast enough and when I did finish the book, I sat in a state of shock for a good while trying to process it and recover from the adrenaline rush the ending gave me (which was not ideal when I’d already stayed up late to finish it woops). It is not hyperbole to say this book blew my mind.

Malice is a deliciously dark origin story for the wicked sorceress of Sleeping Beauty. Set in a vividly imagined fantasy world where an ancient faerie war has led to a handful of Graces (humans with the ability to harness a small amount of faerie power) being born each year and a curse cast upon the royal line, resulting in the heir’s death at the age of 21 without true love’s kiss, Malice follows Alyce, the Dark Grace, as she falls in love with the princess Aurora, the last of her line and whose death looms ever nearer.

I really enjoyed this exploration of a morally grey character and what can push someone towards villainy. Alyce was such an easy character to sympathise with which just made the narrative Walter wove that much more interesting and effective. I really loved reading from her perspective and the development she went through in this book was so well done. Additionally, Alyce’s relationship with Aurora was one of my favourite parts of this book. I really loved the way that Aurora became a source of light and hope for Alyce, and watching their relationship develop as Alyce finally found someone who saw her for who she really is. Aurora herself was also incredible. She was given so much more depth and agency than typically associated with Sleeping Beauty and I really enjoyed reading about her and her idealism for the future of her queendom.

This book is definitely a slow build and a slow burn. My main reason for not giving this book five stars was that it has a bit of a slow start and it took me a good while to feel completely entrenched in the story. I also felt that it was quite dense at times and probably a bit longer than it needed to be. None of this is exactly a fault of the book, more some things that I personally struggle with and, had I not known to expect, unfortunately would have probably turned me off from the book. However, the slow start worked really well to develop the worldbuilding of this novel and help the reader get to know Alyce and her situation. And the slow burn romance was done absolutely perfectly! The slow build was completely worth it for the emphasis it gave to the faster paced ending alone, which showed just how quickly and dramatically things can break down. The final chapters of this book left me reeling, even the twists that I’d guessed really hit because of the strength of Alyce’s reaction and my empathy for her.

If a dark, sapphic Sleeping Beauty retelling is something you’re interested in, you need to pick Malice up! Especially if you’re a fan of morally grey characters and villain origin stories. This book was just so incredibly well written and developed and I cannot wait to see how everything wraps up in the sequel!

Just for posterity, my initial reaction to finishing Malice: what the FUCK !!!!!!!!! in the best way possible!!! WHAT THE FUCK !!!!

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter

*Thank you Del Rey for an advanced copy. This has not affected my review.*
Profile Image for Debra .
2,287 reviews35k followers
April 12, 2021
First and foremost, THAT COVER! I mean, seriously, it is gorgeous!

But it is what's underneath the cover that matters, isn't it? So, without further ado, I am going to quote the Oprah Magazine:

"Walter's spellbinding debut is for all the queer girls and women who have been told to keep their gifts hidden and for those yearning to defy gravity." - O: The Oprah Magazine

Once upon a time there was a wicked fairy who cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that can only be broken by true love's kiss. Yes! A retelling of Sleeping Beauty with LGBTQ representation. It is dark, it's magical and compelling!

"Take care you don't become what they think you are."

One would think that members of the kingdom would care about the Princess Aurora and the fate which might befall her, but it is hard to care when you are busy collecting jewels, purchasing elixirs to harm others or to make themselves beautiful and trying to impress others. But there is one who cares - The Dark Grace, a Vila known as Alyce. She is feared, she is mistreated, but she is … (read the book)

"If there is someone, I hope they deserve you."

There are a lot of characters in this book - unique characters from a Kestrel, graces, Fae, and Alyce! I did not have a hard time keeping track of them so that was a plus. Another plus was the unique world that was created.

This is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but it also had the feel of other fairy tales as well and it also has a Maleficent vibe. A scene at the end also gave me a minor Game of Thrones vibe as well. Fans of retellings and fantasy will enjoy this book. I am not a big fantasy fan, but I do enjoy a good retelling. This is book one in the Malice Duology.

One thing that I felt shined in this book was the emphasis on identity, relationships, knowing who you are, and coming into your own. This book is marketed as a romance and it is - but for me it was more about self-realization and knowing your worth. That being unique is a gift and not a curse. Terrific themes.

A solid debut. I believe the next book will be even better than this one. Like Alyce, I believe that Heather Walter is just coming into her own.

Captivating. Dark. Magical.

3.5 stars

Thank you to Random House Publishing - Ballantine and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com
Profile Image for Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship.
1,121 reviews1,203 followers
July 3, 2021
I picked this up because I’m a sucker for a dark sorceress protagonist, enjoy a good fairytale retelling, and thought a princess/sorceress romance sounded fun. Sadly, despite being marketed as an adult novel, Malice is very YA in all the worst ways: simplistic and over-the-top, populated by flat and psychologically unbelievable characters incapable of predicting the obvious consequences of their behavior, and with a protagonist who spends most of the book as a doormat and acts and sounds far younger than her supposed 20 years. The book also seems to abruptly change its mind at the end about whether this is a story about a villain protagonist or a hero with bad PR.

In a tiny, wealthy fantasy kingdom, Alyce* is an outcast due to her descent from a fairy race carrying dark magical powers, and is required to spend her days generating mild curses for nobility with grudges. Alyce finds a mysterious teacher who helps her develop her true powers and falls for Princess Aurora, who like all the royal women is under a curse that will kill her unless she kisses her true love before turning 21.

At first I enjoyed this book as silly melodramatic fun, and I did feel for Alyce’s rough life. But as the plot drags out, the characters become less and less convincing. None of the secondary characters have lives of their own or more than one or two traits; the stock teen-drama mean girl is perhaps the most well-developed of the bunch despite being straight from central casting. Sadly, Alyce herself has only slightly more depth and is unrealistically functional for her over-the-top awful backstory: a childhood full of abusive medical experimentation, plus no one has ever loved or supported her in her entire life, which in reality would lead to a host of severe mental health issues.

But here, Alyce even repeatedly shows compassion for the mean girl, who spends every minute they’re together taunting and insulting her (which since they’re housemates, occurs with exhausting frequency). This bugged the heck out of me. First, because someone who’s never been shown compassion isn’t likely to feel it herself, especially not toward one of the nastiest people in her life, and second, it seemed like a bid for sympathy but actually sets a terrible example. Responding with grace to someone else’s bad behavior is indeed admirable when it comes from a place of power or emotional strength, but from someone with low self-esteem, lacking personal boundaries and the ability to stand up for herself—which is Alyce, along with most protagonists who behave this way—this is just enabling bullying.

Meanwhile, people’s reactions to Alyce make little sense. Many are bizarrely aggressive in their hate, particularly the mean girl: if your housemate is a dark sorceress who whips up curses for a living and all you can do is make people temporarily prettier, are you really going to spend your days taunting and provoking her? In real life I suspect most people would just quietly avoid Alyce. But the people who like her have just as little reason, Aurora especially—what do they see in Alyce? The friendship and growing romance with Aurora is cute in its way, but whence the sexual attraction? Alyce consistently describes herself with sparse greasy hair and dry scaly skin. Yes, we should have more leading ladies who aren’t beautiful; it’s gutsy to have one who’s downright ugly and stays that way. But I needed convincing that a beautiful princess would want a piece of Alyce.

This is also the sort of book where people run about loudly declaring their intentions to their enemies without a thought for strategy or consequences. Cue multiple villain reveal scenes where the villain goes “Yes, I did [heinous thing]! And I plan to do [other heinous thing]! Join me!” with zero reason to believe Alyce or Aurora would find this pitch convincing (the heinous things in question tend to involve killing their own family members!). Our heroines then respond with “No! I will never help you!” rather than stopping to consider that they might more productively pretend to agree and then quietly slip out the back door. For their stupidity they of course then get locked in a dungeon, put under a curse, etc. I’m so tired of this trope—are all these people 12? Can you imagine any of them in a professional job? Even most children read a room better than this.

There’s plenty of other assorted nonsense. The first-person, present-tense voice is overheated (“It doesn’t matter, I remind myself, though the questions chip at my heart until it’s nothing but a hollowed-out stone . . . The memories disintegrate like foam on the sea.”). Alyce is weirdly judgmental of recent kings for letting the military slide even though this country has no need for one, but also of the current king for building it up. Queens are harshly criticized for giving up power to their husbands, as if their own rule is inherently better (and what are the chances anyone with royal power would voluntarily give it up anyway?). And there’s some interesting material around Alyce’s heritage, which she’s raised to hate by people who tried to beat it out of her and provide her only propaganda to read (you see the real-world parallels), but this turns out unfortunately when the end suggests that everyone of her race is in fact evil.

The “true love” premise also winds up fairly underutilized and senseless. Every princess needs to be kissed by her true love to break her curse, so guys show up to kiss them constantly (unclear where they all come from when the kingdom is tiny and commoners off-limits). That’s entertaining problem-solving, but raises obvious questions: how can someone be your love when you don’t know each other yet? What happens next when you learn you’re destined to love them before having any feelings? What makes “true love” different from regular love (evidently, it still doesn’t necessarily last, and can still be selfish)? None of it is explored.

Finally, there’s the ending. The last 15 pages are wildly different from the preceding 450, and I was left uncertain whether Alyce’s decisions were even intended to be an outgrowth of her development throughout the story, or outside of her control. Either way, it’s abrupt and jarring and dark and doesn’t feel like a culmination of this story. It does leave me curious about book two, but maybe just enough to read a plot summary.

The book gets a second star because I was reasonably entertained, especially early on, and because I really like dark sorceresses. But if you do too you should read A Deadly Education instead—while also probably YA, it’s far more adult-friendly and with far more convincing characters.

* Alyce’s name bugged me unduly. “Alice” connotes girliness and innocence, which is completely wrong for this character, while replacing other vowels with y’s in common English-language names carries some class-related vibes that I don’t believe the author intended. The last page indicates that ultimately the character rejects the name too, but she seemed to feel it fit well enough up to then…?
May 14, 2021
Malyce in fairytale land!

The following ratings are out of 5:
Romance: ❤️💙💜💛💘
Heat/Steam: N/A
Story/Plot: 📕📗📘📙📔
World building: 🌎🌏🌍🌎🌏
Character development: 👤👤👤👤👤

The setting: Fairytale Land (Briar)

The Hero(s): Alyce - has dark and incomprehensible powers and is ostracized for being a monster. Alyce has no friends due in part to her affinity towards hexes and curses.

The heroine: Aurora - The crown princess who has a curse. She must find a prince and get true love’s first kiss or she will be dead within a year.

The Love Story: A slow burn sapphic romance between the cursed princess and the one person who has the blood of the people that cursed her family. The Villain is not a standard fairytale villain and the good and bright people are fake and catty. Quite the turnaround in fairy tale land…

Alyce lives in Briar where there is magic in the form of Graces. Graced children are born with half fae blood that is golden. They use their gold blood in addition to enhancements procured at an apothecary to create potions or tinctures that can do things for their customers like add beauty, change eye color and hair color. However, Alyce is not half Fae but half Vila (monster) and she has the green blood of the Vila which is a race that was eradicated.

Alyce has a dark grace and can combine her blood with enhancements to curse people, give them warts, and make bad things happen to them. Her customers come to her for potions/hexes because they are jealous or angry and want bad things to happen to people they use them on. Alyce lives in Lavender house and the other Graces she lives with have nicknamed her Malyce.

I have to say, that I am a lover of the fairytale retelling and this one is certainly a fun one since it turns just about every fairy tale stereotype around. I love that the shiny happy people are so tarnished and that the “villain” is the protagonist. Also, though the princess is named Aurora and has a curse, this one has elements of a bunch of other fairy tales.

For example, Alyce lives with other graces and due to her Vila blood, she is delegated to the basement area and gets stuck running errands for the other graces (almost like cinderella). Though she is allowed to go to the ball in a gown that miraculously appeared for her. Also, we associate Sleeping Beauty with the names Aurora and Briar Rose and in this book, Aurora is the princess of Briar. I really enjoyed this story. I won’t give away any more, but to say Alyce’s tale is terrific!

I voluntarily read & reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
616 reviews499 followers
November 14, 2021
The fact that this book has 470 pages and I finished it in four days speaks for itself.

When I first got an invitation to read and review Malice I thought it was ya book, but man, when I started it I was pleasantly surprised that it was adult story.
However, it doesn't have graphic or violent scenes (there is one scene about hm hm adult activity but it isn't detailed), so I feel like it is perfect choice for readers who usually read ya fantasy but would like to explore adult books in that genre.

The book follows Alice who people call Malice, because of her dark magic and her look, which is different from what their society considers as beautiful.
Alice is also a narrator of this story that is written in first person.

The whole atmosphere in the novel is dark and gray, at least that is how I imagined it, and therefore it is perfect to read during winter.

This is Sleeping Beauty retelling (with some parts that reminded me of Cinderella) and it is also a fantasy romance in which protagonists are our dear Malice and Aurora.
To some it might sound cheesy, but trust me, it isn't. In matter of fact, it is a good story, with interesting plotline in which love story isn't in main focus, although it is important part.
Because of it, I think this book could appeal to big audience and not just romance lovers.
If you like retellings, you will probably appreciate this novel.

With more than few surprises the story left me confused at times, but still it was so enjoyable and also, the cast of characters was interesting to follow.

The ending was good but at the same time I wish it had better closure...
I mean, I felt like it was cut off in the middle of the action, which makes sense since this is duology...
Now I wish I had the sequel already, but I guess I'll have to wait for another year...
Profile Image for kaz.brekkers.future.wife.
380 reviews257 followers
May 22, 2022

Bruh, bruh, bruh. What the fuck did I just read? What was that ending? WHEN CAN I GET THE SECOND BOOK?

I loved this book bruh, and not just because it was a sapphic retelling. When I fucking tell you that the worldbuilding. was OUT of this WORLD!!!!!

Alyce slayed harder than a gay manin gucci on a catwalk. She's like that iconic mother gothel quote: "You want me to be the bad guy. Fine, now I'm the bad guy."


here are four super important, super cool,super fun reasons why I loved this book.

1) Alyce
talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, shit on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it.
2) Lesbians
Let's go lesbians, let's go.
3) Aurora
“Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes.”– Jim Carey
4) The ending
tunring into a dragon. killing Roose and the king. Killing Kal. Burning the kingdom to the FUCKING GROUND.But Auroras slumber, NOOOO!!! Alyce, wake her up, she desn't deserve to die.

Review To Come

gay, enemies to lovers, sleeping beauty retelling, stubborn princess and evil witch,
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,315 followers
December 8, 2021
Now a Goodreads Choice nominee in Fantasy!

Abomination. Half-breed. Mongrel. Beast. Monster. The world is cruel place for souls like Alyce, the Dark Grace. But Briar, a queendom known for its magic and beauty, doesn’t have much kindness to spare for anyone who seems different or steps out of line.

Half-Vila and scorned for it, Alyce’s powers and appearance are remarkably different from her ‘sister’ Graces at Lavender House. While they have brightly colored hair with golden eyes and the ability to grant virtues to their clients such as beauty, wit and knowledge, the upper class of Briar goes to Alyce only for curses. Of course she doesn’t provide anything deadly, and all Grace elixirs eventually fade, but through her lineage, looks and occupation, Alyce has earned herself a daunting reputation.

But all that changes in one night, at one ball and involving the last Briar princess, cursed to die on her 21st birthday if she is not kissed by her true love. Alyce finds herself in an impossible situation, working for people she despises, wanting to escape, but also drawn to the princess of Briar, who needs her help to break the curse her Vila ancestors placed on her bloodline. Is there any way Alyce’s powers can be used for good, or have her detractors always been right—that all she can do is create darkness, suffering and evil?

Sleeping Beauty was my favorite Disney princess movie growing up, but even then Aurora felt like a spectator in her story. Yes it was about her, but she barely spoke. Instead people acted on her behalf, her father sent her away, the fairies protected her, Maleficent hunted her and Phillip tried to save her. Even for princess movies of the time, she had remarkably little agency. So I was really happy with the characterization of Aurora in this book. She’s pragmatic and clever, always searching for a way to break her curse herself. And once the clock has run down she doesn’t wallow, she makes decisions for what’s best for the realm and eventually herself. Watching her older sisters die of the same cause that will eventually kill her has turned into motivation to, if not live longer, then at least live better.

As for Alyce, I’m sure at this point we’ve all seen or read a Sleeping Beauty retelling that is a little less harsh on the villain of the story. What I appreciated in Heather Walter’s interpretation is that yes, Alyce is more sympathetic, but she doesn’t do that by sanitizing her powers or personality. Instead we’re exposed to the very human cruelty of the people around her, the uncertainty of her purpose in her community and the malevolence she feels against people who have hurt her and those she loves. The ending especially was a masterclass in constructing a compelling villain, to the point where you are rooting for her as she unleashes her rage onto an unsuspecting populace. Like much of Briar’s history, the record of events will be modified, unflattering details erased entirely, and the Dark Grace’s fury will be whispered about in hushed breath for centuries to come.

The first book of the Malice duology was already a roaring success for me. There’s intricate world-building not just in Briar but beyond it. The magic system and magical species have a great foundation laid for the next book. I’m very excited to pick up where it was left off immediately after the final climax of the story, and can’t believe I have to wait until April (!!!!) 2022. I’m ready for more vengeance. I’m ready for wrath. I’m ready for Nimara.

*Thanks Jordy for sending me this for my birthday!! 😭

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Bhavya .
476 reviews873 followers
February 2, 2022
Yes, I gave this 5 stars. I know its not objectively that good, but who cares? Sometimes enjoyment is more important. And that ending was a blast. Also in the process of making a Spotify playlist & Pinterest board. Review to come.

Here is my Spotify Playlist- https://open.spotify.com/playlist/01Z...

Content/ Trigger Warnings- Self-harm, Slurs in fantasy language, Loneliness, Sexual Assault, Homophobia, Suicide, Suicidal Ideation & Attempted Suicide, Murder, Blood, Gore, Torture, Lesbomisia
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
588 reviews1,790 followers
April 28, 2022
rep: lesbian mc & li
tw: past & present torture, lesbophobia, past suicides, blood, drugs


Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher.

There’s something truly magical about taking fairy tales and reshaping them so that all the questions about the main character’s choices could be pretty much answered with: it’s because they’re gay. There are of course other factors at play here, but this is basically what Malice offers.

What would happen if Maleficent was a lesbian in love with princess Aurora?

The biggest gift Walter offers us isn’t even that both Alyce and Aurora are lesbians, it’s that the love the Dark Grace feels for the princess doesn’t magically turn her into a good person. Yes, it changes her. Or, to be more accurate, it’s the biggest catalyst for the change she undergoes. But it never tries to “cure” her of her evilness. Aurora simply does not see Alyce in that way throughout the book.

There’s also the very ending, though, which is almost impossible to talk about without major spoilers. Suffice to say, the Alyce that you see at the beginning of the novel doesn’t hold a candle to the Alyce you will be lucky to experience in the last chapters. This truly is Alyce’s villain origin story.

It’s easy to say that the lesbian romance is a heart of this book. Even if there were other reasons for Alyce to grow more and more bitter, for the peace in the queendom to become at risk, the ending would simply never happen if Alyce wasn’t in love with Aurora. And the book is very clear about that.

What’s even more groundbreaking, is how intense that relationship is allowed to be. We often talk about how f/f relationships never get to be as real, as troubled, as ship-worthy as m/m ones. There’s always high-stake drama with m/m stories and that emotional drama is what makes them so exciting for the reader. What makes them choose m/m ships as their favourite ones. But Alyce and Aurora? No one is doing it like those two.

So yes, if you want a reasonable explanation as to why the Dark Grace was dark enough to hide princess Aurora in a castle covered in thorns, read Malice. If you want girls taking their destiny into their own hands, read Malice. If you want a lesbian love story that makes the very sky roar, read Malice.
Profile Image for Lucy.
415 reviews610 followers
July 4, 2021

If they want a monster, they shall have one.

The last 100 pages of this I just COULD NOT PUT DOWN. It was so enthralling and page turning I couldn’t do anything else but keep my eyes glued to the page. I NEED book 2 NOW... although I am dubious about how this duo-logy will end as usually my favourite types of MC die (the anti-heroes... sort of a villain type).

This book follows Alyce, “Malyce” as dubbed by the other Graces. Unlike them with their small amount of fae blood and their ability to do elixirs and enchantments, Alyce is half Vila: a monster seen by humans and fae alike. She is dubbed the “Dark Grace” or worse she is called “Mongrel”, “creature”, “monster” due to her heritage and ability only to create curses. When we meet Alyce is treated so badly and shunned by mostly everyone, it’s no wonder that all she wants to do is escape Briar.

At a dance where she is humiliated (think very much Cinderella inspiration for this scene) she meets the royal princess, Aurora. The last female of her line, an ancient family curse by a Vila, meaning she will die at the age of 21 unless she has her true loves kiss. She is the last person Alyce would expect to have as a friend and maybe something more, and Aurora is jealous of Alyce and her dark power. Aurora doesn’t flinch away like everyone else from Alyce, instead Aurora is drawn to her.

It was great to see this relationship develop between Aurora and Alyce. The f/f romance was so well drawn out- no instant love (thankfully!). But that’s not all, this is not just a “romance” book. The author developed such an intriguing world- it was magical, political, it has a vicious history and curses involved. There was so much to this world building I was fully immersed.

During this book you will read it and find the inspiration taken from other tales and myth. For example, the scenes taking inspiration from Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin. But not only that, there were so many ideas inspired from Greek mythology. I loved that the Graces sort of mirror the Muses; there was a dog called Calliope (in Greek myth the Muse of epic poetry). There was also the mention of the Carthegean Sea, which I assume took inspiration of its name from the ancient city of Carthage.

I’m giving this 3.5**** altogether. I really enjoyed the start, and then I found it slowed down and I wasn’t as invested in it, and then the last 100 pages sped up so quickly. The slow periods I just wasn’t that invested in the book and thought of giving up, but now I’m glad I kept reading.
I now really want Book 2 and I hope Alyce has some form of Yennefer moment (from the Witcher series) where people are just shocked and in awe when she enters the room.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,080 reviews359 followers
April 9, 2021
ARC received in exchange for an honest review ��🏻

We've all heard how the stories go - the beautiful princess falls in love with the prince and lives happily ever after. But true love is more complicated than a fairy tale, and in this story the villain might just get the girl.

In this YA fantasy we follow for the story of Alyce, a girl with unusual and undesirable magic in a world bound by Faes and warrior queens of old. To me, it read quite similar to The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton in that it's a world where beauty and wit are bestowed upon the weathly via the means of elixirs created by girls called Graces.

This is a very female driven story, that professes to show that not all heroines are perfect and beautiful. Alyce had grown up on this world that seems to be disgusted by her? She's constantly rejected by society, who look upon her as a monster, leaving her very lonely and exposed. She's full of self doubt and hatred for herself and her position in life. She's essentially a slave for the wealthy population who use her gifts to cause pain and humiliation in others. Her magic is one that destroys and it's one that few people understand. However, because of this Alyce is often able to reflect on her behaviours and their consequences, showing empathy and compassion even for those who torment her the most (such as Rose). This made her endearing and likeable.

I also liked her relationship with Aurora, which felt very sweet and genuine. Aurora is just as much a prisoner as Alyce, and this shared connection makes their relationship feel realistic. However, I did find the tension that is somehow created between them to be very plot driven and nonsensical at best. It hinges on miscommunication, which is a trope I hate, and felt a bit heavy handed. I also found Alyce's relationship with Kal to be very dubious at best. She falls too easily into a relaxed and intense friendship with him, even when she knows nothing about him and it really highlighted how naive she is.

I also found the writing to be quite clunky and overwrought in places. There are large sections of exposition and info dumping to try and set up the world building and magical system that feels very disjointed when added to the storyline. For example, we have Alyce near the beginning of the story riding in a carriage and this ends up going off on a tangent about the first queen and what she did to establish her rule. It just felt a bit our of place, and I felt it could have been woven into the narrative a bit better. I also found the backstory overly complicated just for the sake of it. We don't need to know about every land in the world and who rules it if they are never going to appear in the story, and the Fae subplot and historical wars just served as a distraction to the main plot without really adding much to the story.

I also think the plot was a bit messy and predictable YA. It's almost as thought the author knew exactly how she wanted to end this but struggled to realise just how to get there. There are loose ends that are never tied up, revelations that go unanswered and to top it off I just thought Alyce was too nice at times. Yes, that made her endearing, but I really wanted her to go full on mean and villainous. She holds back too much. Although the ending, I admit, is rather spectacular.

Also, if I have to read the phrase 'dragon's teeth' one more time I might scream.

I love that this is sapphic, and highlights the fact that you don't need to be picture perfect beautiful to be a hero. It was a quick, enjoyable and easy read that gave me exactly what I was looking for at the time I read it. However, it was by no means mind-blowing.
Profile Image for Harrow.
313 reviews39 followers
October 23, 2020
I love retellings and reinterpretations of fairytales and Malice for the most part delivers. The worldbuilding is flawlessly executed, The story itself is a blend of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Plus it's sapphic!

I expected Malice to be more about the romance but this is Alyce's story and while romance with Aurora is a part of her story, the main plot revolves around Alyce realizing her own worth and discovering the extent of her power. Alyce went through remarkable character development. I only wish Aurora's character was a bit more developed.
The book is divided into two parts:

Part 1 for me was slow moving and lifeless. The way Alyce was treated by everyone was frustrating and I found the romance underwhelming which was a great disappointment because the hero x villain romance was the reason I picked up Malice.

But then part 2 happened and the book soar higher and higher for me. The romance became angsty, the story picked up pace and pretty much everything worked. One of the villain was obvious from the start but the book did deliver some major shocks.

I would rate part one 2.5 and part two 4. The book ended on a huge cliffhanger. I am excited to see what the author does with Alyce in book two.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews201 followers
July 26, 2022
3.5 Stars

I love fairy-tale reimagining's and this sapphic retelling had some wonderful elements. However, I would love to have seen a lot more magic. There was a lot of thinking and chatting and not enough spell casting and cursing in my opinion. The romance was lovely and Alice and Aurora were engaging characters. However, as the desire for revenge developed and a general sense of the injustice Alice had faced increased, her voice took on a more angry whinging tone which got a little grating as it felt really forced. 'I am angry witch woman hear me cackle' type stuff. It reminded me a bit of Adelina in The Young Elites whose character started becoming quite unlikeable. Still, this was an enjoyable listen and I look forward to the sequel because that ending people!

CW: Magical system is based on blood letting.
Profile Image for Katie Colson.
649 reviews5,815 followers
October 19, 2021
Reading Vlog: https://youtu.be/ChyU-r2AQLY


Sapphic Disney retelling? Sign me up.
Maleficent? Sign me up.
Villain falling for the princess? I'M SIGNING WITH MY OWN BLOOD!

You should know going in that while the romance is prevalent in the second half of the book, the plot is focused on (m)Alyce. If you're wanting a romance, this might be too character driven for you. But if you love character focused stories, Alyce is so well developed and easy to root for. She isn't perfect but neither is a single character in this book.

The world building and magic system is intriguing and easy to understand. I liked the deeper storyline of how the Grace's were equally adored and abused by society.

This was a lot of fun and I am considering picking up the sequel when it releases.
If you want a little dark twist on a story you think you know, I would suggest this for sure.

Profile Image for ~ a foray in fantasy ~.
271 reviews264 followers
March 27, 2022
I’ve been wanting a sapphic villain story and oooh this hits the spot. The only issue was a slight dragging at the start of the book.
Profile Image for Robin.
310 reviews1,438 followers
February 15, 2021
↠ 4 stars

There is nothing I love more than a story reimagined and retold, but make it sapphic and I just might push all my responsibilities aside to read it as soon as possible. Malice brings a new side to the Sleeping Beauty story, one that is dark, twisted, and full of power. Heather Walter gives agency and authority to these characters in a story that was beyond overdue for a refresh. The world of the original story seemed to lack in world building, but that is not the case here. Here, there are clear distinctions in a world reevaluated from the get go.

I initially didn't know what to expect from this, as is the nature of reading a retelling, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. This book follows Alyce, who takes on the role of Maleficent, as she grapples with her own identity and ties to her past. Alongside this is her growing friendship and eventual romantic relationship with the princess Aurora. Walter ties in some significant connections to the original story, while at the same time bringing new meaning to the elements that coincide with that. Overall I think this was executed well, if not a bit convoluted at times due to the amount of history and information being conveyed to the reader. Towards the end, I found it did take on a few too many developments that I'm not sure panned out in the way the author intended. This could just be because it isn't clear to me whether or not this is a standalone or part of a larger series. I hope it's the latter. All together an interesting read!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: blood, violence, gore, child abuse, bullying, manipulation, suicide (mentioned), harassment, kidnapping, execution, medical experimentation.
Profile Image for Amarilli 73 .
2,206 reviews72 followers
September 29, 2022
3,5 - Ormai da qualche tempo, sia al cinema che nella letteratura, assistiamo al filone del retelling di fiabe o fumetti, dove protagonista diviene il "cattivo" della versione originale.
Anche se siamo cresciuti con una certa visione di mostri o uomini ammantati da una notevole aura negativa, a volte queste nuove versioni riescono a presentarceli sotto una luce effettivamente diversa (sono cattivo, ma lo sono diventato a causa di vari antefatti, ho cercato di danneggiare l'eroina, però avevo alcune fondate ragioni in partenza, ecc.).

Malice riprende una delle più celebri fiabe dell'infanzia, ovvero La Bella addormentata, ovvero Rosaspina, ovvero la fanciulla che si punge con un ago e cade in un sonno profondo, all'interno di un castello ricoperto di rovi e difeso da un drago. In attesa del buon principe e della sua missione di salvataggio.

Ebbene, qui la narrazione parte da molto prima e con il punto di vista singolare di qualcuno che non è la principessa né una delle fatine della Disney.
Ci troviamo in un mondo dove la magia si è guastata e viene sfruttata per scopi egoistici, dove si ripercuotono ancori gli effetti di una guerra e dove la tristezza e una maledizione secolare già gravano sul regno, non soltanto per colpa degli esseri ritenuti "malefici" per loro stessa natura.
Per quanto la Walter aggiunga un tocco originale e non manchi di fantasia, il romanzo non è riuscito a conquistarmi in modo netto. Anzi, mi sono piuttosto annoiata.

Come fantasy, anzi, come dark fantasy, questa storia è meh. Fino al 40% è lento, con infodump a manetta; poi si riprende, ma è ripetitivo, a un certo punto la storia poteva finire e viene risollevata e allungata con escamotage da far alzare gli occhi al cielo.

Inoltre comincio a infastidirmi quando le storie vengono "protette" da potenziali critiche inserendo elementi queer. Leggo romanzi MM e FF da oltre un decennio e non li ho mai letti seguendo il trend, per cui guardo al libro e alla sua piacevolezza, a prescindere dai tentativi di presentarlo come un "gesto coraggioso", ecc. A guardare il trend, piuttosto, sembrerebbe che al giorno d'oggi, se non c'è una storia queer, le case editrici neppure ti accettano il manoscritto.
Tre stelline e mezzo, nel complesso: il finale è più avvincente, ma è comunque costruito soltanto per giustificare il seguito, per cui non nutro grande curiosità.
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,402 followers
May 7, 2021
I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

4.5 stars rounded up because I really liked it

I'm not usually too into retellings unless they're made queer/diverse so when I heard this had a sapphic romance I was immediately interested even though I don't know much about the original story (I mean I've seen some versions of Sleeping Beauty but it's not a story I cared about particularly much).

I don't really want to say much about the story other than it's a descend into villainy (which is always sexy) and it's sapphic. I mean, do you really need to know more?? Okay okay, it's also not YA like I thought (the main character and love interest are 20) and it's also not a standalone like I thought (which I hoped it would be, so I wouldn't be left with that cliffhanger).
[why did I have so many false expectations about this book??? it's because I never read blurbs, that's why]

The book wasn't only about the romance, it's actually probably 1:1 plot:romance which I found was a good mix. I will say even if this is not YA a lot of the tropes it followed are typical of YA and if you've read enough YA fantasy you will typically guess where most plot arcs are going, but I didn't find that to be annoying here, it was more like something to hold on to, if that makes sense.

So overall I really want to recommend this because it will appeal to both readers who are into YA and to readers more used to (usually adult) morally grey fantasy, and of course to readers looking for a sapphic romance in a fantasy setting.
Profile Image for Brooke Nelson.
Author 5 books149 followers
April 13, 2023
I have very mixed feelings on this book. While there were parts I thoroughly enjoyed, some of it seemed to fall a little flat for me. One major downfall was that I didn't connect with many of the characters, least of all Alyce, the protagonist. She was such a woe-is-me, while simultaneously telling the audience again and again how different she was from everybody else. It gets a touch repetitive once you really get into the story.

On the positive side, I did enjoy the writing. Heather Walter has the type of voice that's just simplistic and fun enough that I can read her for hours on end. The concept is spectacular, and I really enjoyed seeing the story of Sleeping Beauty told from a new perspective. Malice is one of those books that, even if it isn't precisely what I typically read and write, it lends some inspiration to me in my own work, something that I am always grateful to find. In that sense, I am inclined to say I'm happy to have read the book, even if I didn't think it was the perfect fit for me. And I will be moving onto the sequel in the near future, since I have an ARC. I'm interested to see where she's headed from here.

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