Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter

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Title: Malice
Author: Heather Walter
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: February 16, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction, thriller, mystery

A gripping and dark Sleeping Beauty retelling told from the perspective of the villain

At a glance: Alyce hates her life as The Dark Grace, amongst Graces known for their beauty and pure magic. Everything changes when she meets Princess Aurora, the only person to see her as Alyce and not just The Dark Grace.

  • 🏳️‍🌈 Lesbian MC
  • ✒️ Debut Author
  • 💥 Dramatic Ending
  • 🥀 Flawed Characters

Read this if… you love retellings, if you’re excited about fairytales told from the perspective of the villain, if you want a dark retelling of Sleeping Beauty!

Diversity Representation: Lesbian MC

Content Warnings: past torture, blood, violence, malicious intent, mentions of suicide, death, bullying, manipulation, kidnapping, harassment

Book Review

I had a lot of fun reading Malice. I love when retellings get really creative and change a lot of things because reading the exact same story can be so boring. It was a great book to binge on and was interesting and creative, but I could definitely tell that it was a debut novel.

Quick Summary: Alyce is a Grace, a group of magical girls who create potions and charms for all paying customers of the kingdom. But she is not like the other Graces. They call her the Dark Grace and she is feared for her dark magic. Princess Aurora is kind, gracious, and pure, and she is destined to be the future queen of Briar. When Alyce and Aurora meet, the unlikeliest of relationships begins to flourish.

Despite the repetition and the sporadic drawn-out pieces, I did enjoy the world-building and all the background of Briar. There weren’t elements that I thought didn’t necessarily belong in the book, it just felt there were too many things going on at once that weren’t necessarily adding to the story either. I think that this story has a great backbone and great creativity, but perhaps it was a little too ambitious. None of that is to say that I didn’t like it! It was a really fun book, and I really enjoyed the buddy read.

almost was willing to give this four stars, almost. I think for how drawn out some of it was, and how many things were happening all at once, that the ending was rushed. It felt a little, ahem, like Game of Thrones in the end. Most of you know the feeling. Though there will be a second book, so perhaps the rush to the end will be explained in the second book? I guess we will find out!

Summing it all up


Malice definitely a fun debut novel, with a fun twist on Sleeping Beauty, but perhaps missing that element of literary magic to all come together better. BUT I’m very excited for more books by Heather Walter. I can feel that she will grow as an author and she can blow us all away one day.

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About the Author

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.

Want More Diverse Book Recommendations?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with queer love stories:

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Aaaah a sapphic retelling of Sleeping Beauty!?

Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for the free review copy, I’m leaving this review voluntarily

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