Book Tour Stop! Review: ‘Misrule’ (‘Malice’, #2) by Heather Walter

[ID: ‘Book Reviews’ and ‘Sabrina @ Notes From a Paper Plane Nomad’ in lilac and yellow text on a space-themed background.]
Green and gold
Gold and green
A power which we’ve yet to see
Ah, but ne’er will come the day
When called a force unknown to Fae.

Rating:

4.5/5 paper planes

What’s This Book About?

Genre: High fantasy, retelling (Sleeping Beauty); LGBTQ+
Publication: 10 May 2022
Pages: 480 (hardback)

Synopsis: The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce has spent 100 years wreaking her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. No one escapes the consequences of her wrath.

Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But that love came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break, and their dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means descending into the monster Briar believed her to be. But could Aurora ever love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?

Content warnings (highlight to see): blood, injury, gore, death, violence; cutting self as part of ritual; loss of a loved one; reference to past death of an F/F couple

What I Thought:

This book is incredibly bingeable – who cares if it’s 3am??! I need another chapter!! – and it yanked me out of my reading slump with the force of a dragon.

We open with a Prologue that sets up nicely for the 100-year time-jump, and I loved how vividly the Dark Court came to life atop the ruins of Briar. It was fascinating to meet those other peoples deemed ‘dark’ and ‘monstrous’ by humans and the Fae/Etherians, and I developed quite a soft spot for the Imps in particular.

Alyce is now known as Nimara, and she feels both familiar from Book 1’s characterisation yet so changed (especially with Mortania’s spirit now well-rooted inside her), now that she’s been able to rain full vengeance upon the Etherians who mistreated her and others that they considered monsters. I would certainly consider Alyce morally grey, her conscience waking occasionally and her more destructive impulses ebbing and flowing with her (and her Court’s) anger and fear.

ID: Flatlay photo with a hardback book featuring a blond woman with purple eyes in a hooded cloak. Around the book are purple fabric, a purple petal, green glass pen, paper roses, a fanned open book and a jar of water.

If you’re into morally grey characters, you’re in luck – almost all the main and supporting characters fall into that blurry category, multi-layered from their unique contexts, personal agendas and steeped in their own complex and bloody histories. Interestingly, even some long-gone characters are given some extra layers in hindsight. The constantly changing tensions between the characters (especially Alyce and Aurora) kept ‘Misrule’ very compelling, even in less ‘action’ or twist-rich portions. The angst was real! Alyce’s voice being so emotive also heightened my emotional distress during the many arguments and thorny spots, but her sarcasm often made me laugh too. While there was the occasional clunky phrasing and instances where the style of dialogue and narration felt a little jarring, these were more than overshadowed by how engaging the narration was.

The world-building continues to build in ‘Misrule’, fleshing out further the legend of Briar’s first warrior queen, Leythana, and also the way magic works. Some nice technicalities here! (Even if I was confused on the odd occasion.) Within this story’s enlarged confines (we travel outside Briar for the first time, wahey!) the action and sharply twisting plotline were really enjoyable. The high-stakes action and stunning twists often pair up to give a real sucker punch of a chapter/passage ending.

Jungkook looking shocked gif
GIf of a young Korean man, BTS’ Jungkook, looking shocked

Overall the pacing was good, and while I did think the end felt like it wrapped up unexpectedly quickly and neatly, the epilogue made up for that. I do still wish though that we had more insight into how one of the major characters handles the new court intrigue and personal circumstances that must surely come with how the story went. (I loved that twist!)

I cannot leave this review without first shouting out the animal companions in this book. Callow and Chaos deserve the BEST, they are VITAL characters and every time they were on-page was a good time. (Except when I was afraid for their welfare, of course.)

Winged unicorn swooping over dark forest in animated series She-ra
Gif of a rainbow winged unicorn swooping over dark forests in twilight with riders on its back

A great follow-up to ‘Malice’ and I’m very excited to read Walter’s next book ‘Crimson Crown’! (I heard it’s a Tudor-inspired retelling of Snow White’s Evil Queen, and YES. VERY INTRIGUED.)

Thank you to Del Rey for a copy for an honest review!

Purchase ‘Misrule’ here through my Bookshop.org storefront! (This is my affiliate link, so if you order through this you’ll be supporting me, my blog – and indie bookshops! – at no extra cost to you.) You can also purchase ‘Malice’ on my storefront too!

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read ‘Malice’ or ‘Misrule’? Are they on your TBR? What other queer fairytale retellings or villain origin stories have you enjoyed? Let me know any thoughts below!

I know that lately I’ve been pretty inactive blog-wise… I’ve been working more and the concurrent reading slump hasn’t helped, but I’m slowly playing catch-up and hopefully will see more of you (and post more!) soon! Thank you for still sticking around 💜

2 thoughts on “Book Tour Stop! Review: ‘Misrule’ (‘Malice’, #2) by Heather Walter

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