I’m obviously a big fan of fairytale retellings, and I also read a lot of queer books. Both of those things meant that I was going to read Malice by Heather Walter when it came out last year. It was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I thought I’d see if I could get an early copy of the sequel to read… And I did! Thanks so much to the team at Del Rey for both the ARC and finished copies of this book. I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great ending to a fascinating duology.
Malice followed Alyce and Aurora as they tried to break Aurora’s curse. But though true love’s kiss saved Aurora once, she was put back into a magical sleep. Anyone would be able to kiss her awake, apart from Alyce. 100 years have passed, and the Briar Kingdom is now home to Alyce’s Dark Court. Over the years, she has been destroying the fae courts for her people whilst secretly trying to find a way to remove the curse from the woman she loves. Alyce would do anything for Aurora, but when she finally awakens, will she be able to love the villain Alyce has become?
This book! Oh my goodness. It was a little slow to get into, but by the second half of the book, I was flying through it. This book is packed with adventure and intrigue. Most of this book is set in the new Dark Court, so there are a lot of political machinations going on. But with the war in the background, you still get to see plenty of action. This book had a perfect blend of both, and I was overjoyed.
I went into this book expecting a romance with a happy ending, and I did get it. Just not in the way I necessarily expected. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone who reads reviews before reading books, but oh boy. I love a cute, fluffy ending, obviously. They make me happy. But sometimes it’s nice to see that things don’t end perfectly, but there’s a hope for better. When characters have been through hell like in this book or in the Red Queen books, for example, it does make sense for them not to tumble immediately into the expected happy ending. Bad stuff happened, so now they need to process that. I’m perfectly content to see that and have just that note of hope.
In this book, you see more of the dark fae creatures. The imps were pretty adorable, even if they were pranksters and the goblins and demons were interesting. I enjoyed getting to experience this side of this world as the first book was very focused on the human kingdom with hints of the magical side. This one felt like it was diving headfirst into the magical side with only a hint of the human. That was fun, and I definitely want to reread the duology one after the other to really experience the differences.
There are obviously a lot of new characters in this book. I quite liked this human man called Derek. He’s the only survivor on a ship, and Alyce is not his biggest fan. Yet as time goes on, they form an almost-friendship that I found quite sweet. I also loved one of the faerie horses that he convinced the court to keep, Chaos. I love books with a fun animal companion, and though we already had Callow, I liked the inclusion of Chaos too. It helps makes the book feel more fairytale-like.
Misrule is the book in the duology that is more of a direct Sleeping Beauty retelling. In this book, you have the princess sleeping in a kingdom surrounded by thorns. You have Alyce as this villainous figure, and you know a kiss would wake Aurora up. However, she wakes up earlier in the book than I expected. So a lot of the book is about Aurora and Alyce trying to come to terms with who they are. With so much time having passed, both the world and they have changed, and they both react to that differently. Aurora obviously feels betrayed, but Alyce wouldn’t change the past as she did what she did for a reason. It’s an interesting back and forth. Alyce is also being affected by the spirit of Mortania, which definitely adds to the drama and makes things very interesting near the end.
I’m so glad that I read this book. It was super enjoyable, and I hope that I get to see more queer fairytale retellings in the future. Misrule is definitely worth the read, so pick it up as soon as you can!
Author: Heather Walter
Age Range: Adult
Publisher: Dey Rey
Release Date: 10/05/22