Cover Image: Malice

Malice

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Malice (Book One of the Malice Duology) is a deliciously dark and twisty retelling of a classic fairy tale. With a diverse and wonderful cast of characters, you will never be able to read the fairy tale in the same way. A brilliant and original take, that's impossible to put down.
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A deliciously dark and queer origin story/ retelling of our modern version of Sleeping Beauty (Do not read the earliest version The Sun, the Moon and Talia unless you want the fairytale ruined.) Princess Aurora is the last heir to the kingdom of Briar. Alyce is the Dark Grace who cursed the princess’ line. So what happens when the evil sorceress falls in love with the princess? That’s all you really need to know going in. Definitely one of the better retellings I’ve read. This kept me gripped to the final pages.
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Alyce is half Vila, which means that she is a much-feared, very powerful being in the kingdom of Briar. To keep her under control, she is dubbed the Dark Grace and allowed to use her blood magic to create elixirs for those who wish to do dark deeds. When the cursed Princess Aurora seems to take an interest in Alyce, suspicions arise. But Alyce may be about to unravel the secrets of her past and her truth will come to light. This clever amalgamation of fairytales has elements of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty. The romance between Alyce and Aurora is very slow burning with a very satisfying culmination. There is a dark, sultry essence to the whole book which ultimately champions outcasts and threatens revenge on their oppressors. I haven’t been in the mood to read fantasy for a while but I devoured this one!
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Alyce is the Dark Grace, a powerful half-human, half-fae, who sells elixirs to the people of Brier. She is ostracised by her fellow Graces for being different, for her strange blood. She is an outcast, an anomaly, a foreign and frightening creature. But they know nothing of her life. They know nothing of her true nature. She is no monster. No creature. And she will find a way to prove that she is more than they think, once and for all.

A terrible curse has run through Aurora’s family for centuries, the daughters destined to die on their twenty-first birthday unless the kiss of their truth love saves them. Aurora has been forced to kiss dozens of men, she has watched her sisters perish, and now in a few short months her own life will be over. But she has one last option, to work with the notorious Dark Grace and break this curse together.

The world-building is rich and layered, the story propulsive. The author deftly draws us into an unforgettable story. Alyce is both the ‘villain.’ And the heroine. I adored this genius element of Malice, how the author has combined these two character archetypes and created someone who is fascinating, flawed, emotionally complex and utterly lovable. She feels very human, very real, and her story will resonate with many readers. The sapphic romance is slow-burn and beautifully-depicted. But it was Alyce’s personal journey of self-love and self-discovery that blew my socks off. It is raw and powerful, with endless twists and turns along the way.

I love the strong LGBTQ representation, and how this novel cleverly and fearlessly redefines the classic fairy tale we all know. This is not about valiant princes and meek princesses, this is about self-discovery, empowerment, love and courage. Alyce is a wonderful creation. I adored her. And her story. I can’t wait for the next book in this duoology. I just wish I could read it now!!
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I love this kind of fantasy, where good battles evil, retelling a fairy tale with a twist so I was looking forward to reading.
I loved how we have Sleeping Beauty with twist. We see the tale from the dark side, how she was treated by all around her. The Princess is cursed to die unless she is kissed by her true love. Her mother, the Queen, has lost her throne to her ambitious husband and has little power. The king is power crazed, wanting to battle the neighbouring countries. And a monster wrongfully chained up in a tower who can help Alyce the dark grace to develop her magic. 

It should have worked but for me it didn't. I loved it until the last third of the book. It became muddled and the story just didn't quite work. Without revealing the end, I felt that nothing was resolved: but that's what book 2 is for.
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I love this book! 

We follow Alyce who is known as the Dark Grace, who has the blood of a known evil species in her. She has to live her life as the outcast while also living with others known as The Graces, who have fae blood/magic in them. Alyce is the outcast but she also catches the eye of the last living princess...Aurora. 

This was a brilliant sleeping beauty retelling, I loved that it was told from an "evil" perspective, it was interesting to see the people who would usually be classed as "good" from another light. The slow burn romance isn't something I typically like but in this book it was done so so well. 

The chaos in the last 100 pages or so was everything. Nothing was perfect or had that "happy ending' feel to it, it was chaos and bittersweet and I cannot wait for the 2nd book as this was absolutely amazing.
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I’d like to thank NetGalley and Del Rey Books (Random House UK) for approving me for an ARC of this brilliant debut!

I have been exploring the world of Sci Fi and Fantasy ever since I discovered The Lunar Chronicles last year (yes I know I’m very late to that party). When I saw everyone raving about this one I looked it up on NetGalley and fell in love! The cover alone is enough to entice a reader but once I read the synopsis I knew this would be a great read.

Growing up I was a huge fan of Disney, I used to love all the princess stories and even as an adult I still love them. Heather Walter has taken everything I thought I knew about fairy tales and delivered this dark, twisted version which I prefer.

Whilst it is lovely to see the princess being rescued by her knight in shining armour and everyone getting a happy ending this story gave me something else entirely, a villain to root for. Alyce or Malice as she was nicknamed by the Graces, was a fantastic main character. She was emotional, driven and completely captivating. The story was told entirely from her POV and I found her to be relatable. Casted as an outsider from the day she was born Alyce had a power that not even she could fully understand. With a villain we automatically assume they were born that way and their actions are unjust but is that right? It’s that nature/nurture argument all over again but in Alyce’s case the people around her made her who she was. They moulded her thoughts and manipulated her to do what they wanted. As a reader we are kept on the edge of our seat as we see Alyce learn to trust, love and ultimately embrace her power.

The developing romance with Aurora was told beautifully and I felt fully invested in them as a couple. From their first meeting I felt that Aurora was genuine and unlike the rest of the kingdom, saw Alyce as a person and not the Dark Grace. I desperately wanted them to get their happily ever after and there were so many moments when I could feel that giddy Disney moment about to happen. I can not wait to see how their story unfolds and how or if they will overcome their obstacles. Call me soppy but I think everyone deserves their happy ever after.

The world that Heather Walter has created is sublime. We have complicated histories with different lands, different beings and I can’t wait to see more of this world in the next instalment. I also noted the nods to the pivotal moments of the original tale and thought they had been woven in perfectly.

This debut had every thing a reader would want from a retelling; complex characters, action, magic and a breath taking prose, definitely not to be missed!
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I don’t know why I have found this review so difficult to write but for some reason when I really love a book is when I struggle the most, so I’ve been putting this off for a while knowing that it wouldn’t come easy because I absolutely loved this book. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I love a retelling but to get it from the perspective of “the villain” of the story, and for it to be such an original take, and for it to feature two women being powerful and resilient and falling for each other, it just made Malice even more entrancing than I had expected it to be.

The world-building is incredible, I felt so immersed in the world of Briar and found it so interesting how the Grace’s came to be, how the kingdom came to have them and how this has changed Briar and its inhabitants. Of course, this knowledge grows and differs as the story unfolds and it makes the political alliances and power plays even more tense as the pages kept turning.

Alyce is a fascinating character I felt like I was taking every step of this journey with her, she is a little different to the rest of the Grace’s, always treated as lesser when in fact she is so much more. This story very cleverly mapped out how easy it is to sway people’s opinions and how our perception of villain changes depending on what information we have access to and I love that despite Alyce’s magic being more geared toward dark magic that it is more her circumstances than her will that cause the most problems.

She is a force that has been so contained that she doesn’t have any idea what she is capable of but in the end, she shows that she is resilient and strong and better than what the kingdom have perceived her as. I also love her relationship with Aurora, at first, they are working together to try to break Aurora's curse but it was exciting to see how that changed as they got to know each other better and how they both reacted to the situation that Aurora is in, which I found quite frankly horrifying, but that made their unfolding relationship even sweeter.

Aurora was another wonderful character, where I expected someone who would be resigned to her position and to her fate, instead, she was very strong-willed and defiant and willing to try everything before accepting her fate. There are of course a cast of characters a lot of whom are intriguing and I wasn’t always sure who was friend or foe which added to the suspense of the story.

Malice is a divinely dark fairytale that weaves its magic effortlessly, honestly by the end of the book I didn’t think I could possibly read quick enough, I was desperate to know what would happen. The ending is magnificent and I was at the same delighted and a little gutted that I’m going to have to wait to see what happens next.

This is a definite for my top ten of this year and I would highly recommend it.
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This is not just a Sleepint Beauty retelling. This is so much more. A story of love, pain, angst, anger, betrayal. It is funny and light in places whilst utterly dark and forlorn in others. Alyce and Aurora have so many dimensions to them. They are so well written. It address many social issues: class, sexuality, gender equality, racism, looking. It does so very unapologetically but brilliantly. I can't wait to find out what happens next.
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Malice takes the story of Sleeping Beauty and tips it on its head. Filled with magic, darkness, and love this book shines a new light on a very old story. 

This may surprise everyone but Malice is the first fairy-tale retelling I've ever read - terrible, I know! But what a retelling to break the curse with (see what I did there?). There is so much about this book to love, however, I must admit the pacing for the first half of it felt too slow for me. As I've mentioned in many reviews previously, if it takes a long time to get to the action I can lose some interest in what I'm reading. Whilst I didn't lose interest in reading Malice, I did find it dragged a bit with the initial backstory. 

For the character's I want to start by saying, Alyce deserved better. SO much better. After years of abuse by those around her, it was only going to be a matter of time before she snapped. Being part Vila made her different and cast her aside as an abomination. The saddest part of it is that she had a genuinely good heart. She wanted to help, but they destroyed any last ounce of hope and belief she had in the world she was a part of. I enjoyed reading as her character developed and she learned how powerful she actually was. The truth of it was that she actually had nothing to prove to anyone, not the Housemistress, or The Grace's because she was the most powerful of them all. The other Grace's can only do so many potions for healing and beauty for so long until they lose their power. Alyce's will never die and it's clear quite early on that those living with her are exceptionally jealous of that. 

Of course, it would be wrong to mention characters and not talk about Princess Aurora. Baring in mind I only have Disney Princess Aurora to base my knowledge on, I can categorically say Malice Aurora is one hundred times better. She's got substance and a fantastic rebellious streak that makes her very likable. It becomes clear the more you read, that everyone in that Kingdom feels trapped in some way including Aurora. There are many other characters I could speak about, but they are integral to the development of the plot and I think you should find out about them by reading Malice!

Whilst the world-building was beautiful, it took pretty much the first half of the book to complete it which is a long time for descriptive narrative. However, I did love how this was written and appreciated the build-up to their romance as it felt very natural. I also liked the fact their romance wasn't the focus of the book, and that Alyce's character development was able to take centre stage. Reading as she became more self-aware and stronger was one of the reasons I really rooted for her. 

Overall, I ended up thoroughly enjoying Malice and rate it 4/5 stars. The slowness of the first half was mildly annoying but once you make it past that point the pace picks up nicely and it was a refreshing read. It was very different from what I usually read so I'm glad that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I recommend this book to those who are fans of Fantasy and I'd definitely say this is more adult fiction rather than YA.
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This was one of my most anticipated releases for the year and I was definitely not disappointed!

For a first book in the series, I thought the world building was done really well and didn't feel like the author was info dumping. I found it easy to follow all the laws, characters and storylines.

I liked how you could tell this is a Sleeping Beauty retelling but it didn't rely heavily and went in it's own direction.

I loved Alyce an was rooting for her from the start, this definitely highlighted that the way you treat people has an effect on their personality. This was also great at pointing out attitudes towards women and how they are forced into decisions by the choices of men.  

And of course, I loved the romance, even though it is more of a slow burn! The ending has definitely left me wanting more and I've already bought a physical copy of this one!

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for providing me with a copy to review.
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Malice is one of my favourite reads of the year so far, Malice is a Sapphic retelling of Sleeping Beauty with a focus on Maleficent or Alyce as she’s known in this world.

This is a very well developed debut with an original, exciting and captivating plot with a fantastic morally grey main character. I loved the romance though it’s definitely a slow burn romance, but that’s ok… all the best ones are 😉

It’s well paced but you really get a feel for the characters and they’re fleshed out. The world building is great and Heather Wallace does a great job of creating a unique world. I really hope there’s a second one because after that ending I need to know what happens!

4 STARS for a really great Sapphic retelling! A huge thanks to Del Rey UK for the opportunity to read Malice.
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The magic in Malice by Heather Walter is quite unlike anything else I’d read. Alyce, our main character and “villain” is a Dark Grace, unlike everyone else around her. Whilst Grace’s can bestow beauty, wit and other benefits nobles enjoy with a few drops of golden blood, Alyce is the opposite. A drop of her green blood can cause warts, spoil cream and so much more. The land of Briar relies on the beautifying, the hair or eye colour change, the smoothing of wrinkles from the Graces whilst largely shunning Alyce. Of course, that doesn’t stop them using her particular brand of magic on rivals when desired. Within the first few pages, I began to appreciate Alyce as a character and enjoy seeing things from a more morally grey point of view. The author does a great job of showing how the supposedly beautiful golden Graces are not as beautiful on the inside and how Alyce has plenty of hidden depth. 

Part One of Malice by Heather Walter was great. It built up the world of humans, Graces, Fae, Vila and a hint at a whole other host of fantastical species in a world that I could picture clearly with the wonderful descriptions. It also, of course, introduces our characters. As well as Alyce, the other characters worth mentioning are Aurora, Rose, Kal and Endlewild. 

Aurora is the Princess, cursed to die if she doesn’t have true love’s kiss by her 21st birthday. If her name wasn’t enough to give you a hint at the retelling, the curse should be reasonably familiar! Aurora’s not your average Princess with the perfect manners, so it was fun to begin to learn her character and have her standout for more than just being a cursed princess. 

Rose is an antagonist, a Grace that lives with Alyce in a house full of their Grace’s. As Alyce is “dark”, they all tend to treat her differently, but Rose is particularly cruel with it. Come the end of Part One though, I began to see the flaws to her character that stemmed a lot from the stress and pressure of a) being a Grace and b) the fact that Grace powers have a limit and fade before long. It’s a lot of weight to have on your shoulders, losing your power along with your way of making a tidy living. 

Kal is… I’m not really sure. A mentor archetype but there’s something more to him. I’m writing this at the end of Part One, so I’m not sure what yet, but there’s definitely something there and he’s powerful, so there’ll be more to come from that, I’m sure. 

Endlewild, finally, is the ambassador of the Fae to Briar. And he’s not necessarily happy about it or a nice guy in general. Endlewild is responsible for torturing Alyce as a child and is another character I think we’ll hear more about as the book progresses. 

*some time and screaming later*

Part Two has struck and… wow. Where Part One was slowly drawing us in, showing us the depth of the world, exploring the characters, letting us begin to root for them. Part Two was unleashing all of that in angst, drama, love, action and then… the last few chapters. I don’t want to spoil things too much but what I posted on Instagram shortly after probably sums it up. I closed the book and stared at the words “There was a villain.” for a good few minutes. There was a villain, indeed, and my brain can’t quite handle that right now. The main issue with reading books pre-release or right at release is then the wait for the next book. Has the author even finished writing it yet? Possibly not. And yet, I need it. Now. Please. 

I also need the art. The things illustrators could do with the use of colour in this book is going to be amazing, I’m telling you, and I really hope that happens. 

TL;DR: Buy Malice by Heather Walter right now! Devour it! Then scream! That about covers it. This has to be my favourite retelling to date.
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A wholly original, brilliant written retelling of the Sleeping Beauty myth from the antagonist's point of view. The world is inventive and brought to dazzling life. I also found the plot wholly engaging and unpredictable. A new favourite!
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Alyce is her name.

Malyce is what she's called...

The young woman who is the hero of this book strives throughout not to be the villain. Not to be seen as the villain. An outcast, with no mother, half human, half Vila - a legendary race of dark Fae, now believed extinct - she's the subject of a daring experiment. In the kingdom of Briar, there are houses where Graves - young women touched with the magic of the Fae - provide gifts of beauty, wisdom, healing and wonder, all powered by drops of their precious, golden blood.

What might one do with the green blood of a Vila?

Enter the Dark Grace. Hated and feared, yet so, so, needed... for those times when a little curse is called for. Shunned, yet patronised, Alyce sits in her dark, damp little room in Lavender House and serves her clients. Anonymous clients, cloaked and hooded, yet willing to pay out large amounts of coin for what she can offer. Even the King, one day, will need something from her.

This book is deliciously, subtly constructed. One's sympathies are with Alyce from the start. Even as she begins to discover more about who she is, and to learn the extent of her powers, she doesn't seek power or revenge. Rather, she - unknowingly - is looking for love. This poor lonely girl, humiliated when she attempts to attend a Royal ball, has a deep need she isn't even aware of herself. This takes the book to one of the most frustrating, will-they, won't-they plot threads I've read for a long time. No spoilers, but sometimes you just know when two characters are right for each other and that they should just get on with things...

Alyce's origin is deeply bound with the history of the Fae and the Vila, and the origins of Briar. Briar is a troubled realm, where the founding (and ruling) Queens have lost their power to their husbands; where a curse threatens daughters unless they find a True Love; where an enemy is imprisoned in a dark tower, waiting an opportunity; where spies watch from the shadows. If Alyce learns the truth, it may, you think, set her free. That's what she hopes. But can she ever be free when what she does, what she is, is so useful, so darkly useful, to the wealthy and powerful?

There are so many layers here. History gone bad. Injustice and genocide. The fate of an individual taking second place to the demands of the State. Also, power, freedom and revenge. Alyce is a magnificent hero, even if all around her - even those she thinks of as friends - would paint her as a villain. The book is described as being "Sleeping Beauty" from the villain's point of view, but it's so much more than that. To begin with, it's an origin story for Sleeping Beauty. All the elements are there, even if in unfamiliar form, and even if Walter also plays with references and hints of other fairy stories (I spotted several) but they don't come together in quite the way you might expect. But it's also a story about patriarchy. About finding oneself - and the deadly consequences of being forced into denying that self.

A riveting book, exuberant, joyful and angry, this was an entrancing and involving read and I enjoyed every word of it.
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Malice is a dark and wickedly twisty sapphic sleeping beauty and a sumptuous contemporary retelling in which Walter puts a refreshing and captivating spin on the prominent, much-loved fairytale. Once upon a time long ago, the Vila, a race of evil-intentioned magical beings, and their homeland of Malterre were obliterated by the brutal War of the Fae. Yet those who survived its peril, the humans of Briar and light Fae of Etheria, shed no tears over the outcome given the notorious nature of the Vila to be nothing but ruthless and wicked. Even Alyce, known by ”Malyce” by the Graces she resides with at Lavender House, appreciates that simple fact despite actually having the green blood of the Vila running through her veins. Due to her half-Vila heritage, she is viewed as a second class citizen and forced to serve as the Briar’s Dark Grace. The narrative is addictive, beguiling and compulsively readable and I felt the new take on a classic fairy tale captured the very essence of the original story but also brought brand new directions in terms of both a lesbian love interest and a dark, unsettling mission to save the future of their species. A richly-imagned, scintillating and decadent tale. Highly recommended.
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This book deserves every single star, plus more. Heather Walter takes fairy tales and tweaks them, not so much they’re unrecognisable, but enough to separate them from the Disney versions we know and love. Malice is beautiful and dark and powerful, much like Alyce herself.

In Briar, Graces are fairy-blessed, able to create elixirs to allow their patrons a taste of magic. There are different types – beauty and pleasure and wisdom. Then there is Alyce, and you may be asking, who the hell is Alyce? Well, I’ll tell you. Alyce is the Dark Grace.. Feared and sought by all for her elixirs which, unlike those of her ‘sisters’, contain powerful dark curses.

She doesn’t care for anything outside her Lair, content with Callow and simply trying to find a way to escape Briar. Until she meets the last heir to Briar’s throne, Princess Aurora, trapped under a curse which will kill her within the year.

Let me start by saying I really loved Alyce. Her voice comes through really powerfully, and she is a powerful woman trapped by circumstance. She is, at times, selfish, but she has been forged into a weapon, growing up berated for simply being herself. Alyce is made to hate herself, but she fights through this and keeps fighting. I can’t go deeper without going into spoiler territory, but she really does have an excellent character journey.

Briar reflects a brilliant hand at worldbuilding. We only see aspects of it, and only through Alyce’s eyes, but it is clear this is a place where the rulers enjoy much more out of life than the lower classes. And even though Alyce is powerful and feared, she is often neglected, in ways the other Graces aren’t. She has moments of strength, and moments of weakness, and every step she takes is informed fully by her as a character and the way the world has treated her.

The last few months have not been easy, and I hit a sort of reading slump. Malice helped break me out of that. It’s 400 pages, but it doesn’t feel that long, and it’s the kind of book that keeps drawing you back, keeps making you want to read more, find out more, and I really hope Heather Walter writes more, if not about Alyce, then about this world she’s created.

I love fairy tale retellings generally, but sometimes they can be disappointing. Malice straddles the line between twisting the tale too much, and simply telling it as the original but in a different setting. The different elements are there, and there are a couple of moments for fans of the original – or even the Disney version – to spot, but Walter really puts a new, unique stamp on Sleeping Beauty.

As you can probably tell, I really loved this book. The characters were intriguing, their interactions written really well, and overall I found it easy to get lost in this world. If you like dark fairy tale retellings, you will want to give this a go.

Thank you to Del Rey UK for providing me a copy of this book via NetGalley.
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I absolutely adored this! I didn’t know what to expect when I went into this (other than it was a sapphic retelling of Sleeping Beauty) and I was so surprised and impressed by the way Walter crafted this story. The relationships between the characters were well written and beautifully crafted and the story itself was so unique whilst somehow maintaining a direct link to the fairytale. The main relationship between Alyce and Aurora was just stunning and it felt like their romance unravelled just perfectly, with both of them developing so much over the novel.

I was so invested by Alyce’s story and the various plot twists that kept me captivated just felt so right for her life and experiences. I was thoroughly shocked by the ending and I cannot wait for the second book! The only issues I had was that the pacing at times felt a little odd and the atmosphere changed quite a few times. Ultimately though, I fell in love with this story and characters and absolutely adored everything about Alyce and Aurora. Couldn’t recommend this enough!
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Headlines:
Twisty plot
Retelling heaven, so fresh
Exponential explosion

Welp, what am I supposed to do with myself now? Malice consumed my down time in a work week, going to bed reading it, waking up thinking about it, finishing and now staring into the distance...

So cleverly written, Malice delivered a plot of intricacy that was carefully built and easily followed. Inspired by Sleeping Beauty but really, so far removed, Alyce was a wonderful, morally grey protagonist. She was oppressed but slowly rising above that difficult life, inspired by the cursed crowned princess Aurora. The contrast of the graces' powers and the dark grace's power was such an interesting aspect to the story. Rose was a complex, love to hate character.

Aylce and Aurora's friendship to more was so well written and credible but also, it was peppered with problems, roadblocks and ultimately a lot of difficulties. While I got to know Aurora less than I hoped (I'm such a greedy reader), there was enough connection there. As an Alyce fan, I needed some better times for her, people to trust (like who?), and frienship.

I am beyond glad there's another book because I'm in freefall. I need some resolution, some more Alyce, some revenge, some regret. I think you can see that I have all the feelings.

This was a stunning read, a page-turner and the kind of book that makes you wish away the months till you can get hold of the next. I highly advise taking a dive into this book.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the early review copy.
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A really interesting retelling of Maleficient, I really enjoyed this book especially a wholesome gay romance!

Not what I expected at all but a really unique take on a well-told story. I would recommend pick up this book.
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