Malice - book cover
Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Publisher : Del Rey; Reprint edition
  • Published : 01 Feb 2022
  • Pages : 496
  • ISBN-10 : 1984818678
  • ISBN-13 : 9781984818676
  • Language : English


A princess isn't supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this "bewitching and fascinating" (Tamora Pierce) retelling of "Sleeping Beauty," true love is more than a simple fairy tale.
"Walter's spellbinding debut is for all the queer girls and women who've 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, 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 a power like mine 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.

Book One of the Malice Duology

Editorial Reviews

"The villain takes center stage in Walter's superlative debut, a refreshing spin on Sleeping Beauty. . . . Fairy tale lovers of all ages will be thrilled."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A truly original and clever retelling of a classic that had me racing to the end-you'll never look at ‘Sleeping Beauty' the same way again."-S. A. Chakraborty, author of the bestselling Daevabad trilogy

"Absolutely dazzling! Full of love, power, and betrayal, Malice is as compelling as a spell, as captivating as an enchantment, and as fascinating and delicious as a fairy-tale curse. I loved it!"-Sarah Beth Durst, award-winning author of the Queens of Renthia series

"Malice is the dark and wicked heart of a fairy tale carved into a book. This story is beautiful, vicious magic."-Tasha Suri, author of Empire of Sand

"A beautifully imaginative and feminist retelling of a fairy tale so often swept into the dark . . . Walter's debut was engrossing from page one, with a striking cast of characters, thrilling romance, and a world so vivid it will wrap thorns around your dreams."-Roshani Chokshi, author of The Gilded Wolves

"I spent a lot of late nights getting lost in this world of sorcery, intrigue, and-of course-true love. I'm sure I won't be the only one!"-Richelle Mead, internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy

"Lively characters, a tempting sapphic romance, and a richly built world make this a book to savor."-Louisa Morgan, author of A Secret History of Witches

Readers Top Reviews

Wow! This was phenomenal. For a while, I thought I knew where the plot was going, that it was just a cool twist on a classic fairy tale; but I was pleasantly surprised by various turns followed by an explosive ending! There is much to love about this novel: the world building, the magic, but most of all the main character who isn't your ubiquitous ever so beautiful, straight woman. She follows the laws and does as she's told only to be chastised, hated and feared by virtually everyone. And for years she keeps her head down and keeps her pain to herself. But as Alice begins learning more about her origins, she realizes she is far more powerful than she was led to believe throughout her life, and maybe every bit as dangerous as everyone feared. And then the fun starts. There was nothing I didn't love about this book. I'm in awe that it's a debut!
This was so good! I was hooked throughout the entire story. What a fantastic fairytale retelling. It felt like a retelling of Cinderella land Sleeping Beauty, but then also a villain origin story. I love Alyce! Both when she’s kind and honorable, but also when her claws came out. A truly morally gray character that I completely fell in love with and rooted for. Also the slow burn romance was chef’s kiss. I’m going to be honest and say I was hoping for some more lemony moments but I still liked it a whole lot. Aurora came off really privileged and selfish in the beginning. She kind of bulldozed over Alyce without considering how certain actions she wanted Alyce to do would be very dangerous for Alyce because she doesn’t have the same privileges as Aurora. But Aurora did grow on me and I’m excited to get to know her more. Apparently this is a duology? I read it thinking it was a standalone. I’ll say it does end on kind of a cliffhanger where there’s a lot of action and with an open ending, but I also think it works as a standalone because of the strong fairytale vibes. I would have been fine without having a sequel. I will definitely continue though because I loved the story, characters, and the author’s writing!
Lisa Eve
It boasts a decent word/page count, and so I sit here at 0800 having not gone to bed yet because I could not find it in me to sleep without knowing how this turns out. A reimagining of a classic tale, much darker than Disney, with a wonderful bit of fancy that still felt whimsical. It may say more about me being along for the ride, but I was not expecting the ending we got. It makes sense, but youre so used to getting a checklist in your lezfics, and while this does have a few boxes checked, it doesn't feel compelled to stick within the box that usually leads to. A wholly refreshing tale, one I would without a doubt recommend. I look forward to the next in the series, I have no idea where it goes from here, but I'm excited.
the captain
Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A reimagining of Sleepy Beauty, but not exactly what one would expect. Graces are magical women that can create potions and magic that help singing voices croon, blemishes vanish, and dispense wisdom. Not Alyce. Alyce is the Dark Grace, abhorred by upper society, but still requested to wreak havoc on fellow folk. Her magic is dark and twisted and can only bring forth boils and suffering...which of course, people will pay top dollar for. Alyce hates it. Until one day she meets her royal highness, Aurora...who sees past Absoluuuuutely LOVED this book! Great romance, great storytelling, fascinating magic! I literally don't have any problems with it, it hit all the marks right. I guess the only thing is the language is kinda flowery but, really, it makes sense within the story. Alyce is a fascinating protagonist that doesn't follow typical protagonist rules, she's belittled and spat at, but instead of "being better than them" she gives into mischief at times for her minor revenge. Which is entertaining to read! Aurora was really sweet as well, their relationship felt fleshed out and believable. Poor Alyce though, life loves throwing hardballs at her. Can't wait for the sequel! :)
This book was perfection on every page. From the very beginning I knew I was going to love it, and by the end I knew it was destined to be an all-time favorite. The wait for the sequel is going to be a torment! The world the author created is filled with magic, but it's all so believable that it feels like a place that might really exist. I loved reading about the primary queendom of Briar and its place in the world. I enjoyed learning its history alongside main character Alyce, and trying to discern fact from fiction as she sorted through the lies to find the truth about where she came from. The city felt like a living place, where you came to know shopkeepers by name and learned the routes in, out, and around town. You learned your way around the palace, from the gardens to the servants' passageways, and the secret places hidden just outside of the city that led to the seashore. All the characters felt real. They each had distinct personalities, their own motivations, and secrets you slowly uncover as you dig deeper into the story. Reading through the book I felt suspicious of everyone and worried for Alyce's heart like she was my own friend. The romance takes a realistic time to build, and you find yourself having the same misgivings as Alyce as you read, wondering if Aurora is all that she seems. The ending is explosive and really leaves you craving more. If you're looking for an engrossing read that can transport you to another place, this is it.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter One

Age of the Rose, 996

The golden bell above my doorframe bobs twice.

I roll my shoulders against the needling ache that settles at the base of my neck whenever that damn thing sounds. After nearly a decade of hearing it, I've come to despise the bell's shrill, tinny clang almost as much as the message it carries: A patron is coming. When it was first installed, my bell gleamed like those the Graces use in their parlors. But now, seeing as the servants conveniently forget to polish it, a mottled green tarnish clings to the thing like a scaly skin. Fitting, I think, that I should have the ugliest bell in Lavender House when I am by far the ugliest creature living inside it.

Alyce. My own name on my patron schedule glares up at me when I glance at the next appointment. Beneath it: The Dark Grace.

Grace, indeed. If I were truly a Grace, I'd be receiving my patrons in a sunny parlor with silk-upholstered chairs and trays of spongy, cream-­frosted tea cakes. Instead, I'm banished to a converted storage annex attached to Lavender House's kitchen. It's yet another reason Cook hates me. The space was once a larder and now Cook complains every chance she gets that there isn't enough storage space in the cellar. I catch her grumbling curses at me when she thinks I'm out of earshot, as if this insufferable chamber is some kind of prize. There are no windows. A dank chill seeps through the rotting mortar, even in the summer heat. And the wretched hearth-­hastily added once I opened my practice-­clogs more often than not, filling my Lair with a perpetual smoky scent and smearing soot on every surface.

It's more a dragon's lair out of a story than a parlor in a Grace house. Rose dubbed it such soon after she arrived: the Lair, where the Dark Grace dwells. I hate the place so much that I didn't even fight her.

Callow ruffles as the bell jangles a second time, as annoyed as I am at the intrusion. I offer my kestrel a few meat trimmings snuck from beneath Cook's nose.

"What do you think this one wants?" Callow shakes out her white-­speckled wings in a decidedly irritated fashion and nudges my hand with her head. And I suppose there's no point putting it off any longer. "Enter!"

The chamber door squeals and I can tell immediately from the footsteps that it isn't one of my regulars. They're anxious. Hesitant. A startle away from turning and bolting.

I wish they would turn and bolt.

Whispering apologies to Callow, I fix her hood over her head. She's easier to handle this way, especially around strangers. I'd found the kestrel as a chick some years ago, half-­dead and starving on the sea cliffs outside Briar's main gates. Though I'm no healing Grace, I was able to nurse her back to health with what tinctures I could concoct. She's never taken to anyone else. Not that I blame her. Mistress Lavender said it would have been kinder to kill the bird, and one of the servants mistook her for a rat and nearly bludgeoned her to death. The maid was lucky I didn't return the favor.

The nervous patron hovers in my doorway, hood close around her face despite the oppressive, salt-­soaked heat of late summer. The firelight flits over her features, sharpening her cheekbones. Hollowing her eye sockets. Definitely not a regular. She looks like she thinks I'm going to roast her over a spit. As if my pathetic hearth is large enough to manage that. Would that it could.

"Your Grace." The edges of her brocade cloak tremble as she scrapes a curtsy.

"What brings you here?" I stroke Callow's snowy breast with one finger, affecting the cool, detached manner people expect from the Dark Grace. I don't ask her name. Within these walls, she doesn't have one. Patrons do not come to my Lair seeking beauty or charm or wit as they would in a Grace's parlor. They come for revenge. For cruelty. Services provided at a steep price, and that price includes anonymity.

"I . . . I have a . . . cat." She stumbles. Flushes at her own threadbare deception.

I resist the urge to roll my eyes. My patrons always spare less than half a thought to crafting a decent backstory. Briar's Grace Laws prevent the use of their magic for ill will, which should directly prohibit my line of work. But I am the only Grace of my kind. And all I do is prepare the elixirs. Once the vials leave my hands, it's up to the patrons to dispose of them as they please. And as long as I don't know I'm party to an attack on another citizen, I cannot be held liable for my patrons' actions. Besides that, my elixirs cost three times the average rate of those of a Grace. And if I stopped working, the Crown wouldn't get its cut.

"A cat." I school my features into the neutral expres...