Review of Malice by Heather Walter
This was a quality book that I loved in some parts but struggled with some others. I just adore fairytale retellings, especially if they are sapphic. This was a book that I was dying to read and I had a lot of high expectations for it. In the end, it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for but it was a well-done book and impressive for a debut.
This was a really interesting mix that reminded me of Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but with a lot of new imaginative elements thrown in. I’ve noticed that many reviewers have complained about how slow the first half of the book was and that the second half of the book is what really brought their rating up. I find it funny because I’m the exact opposite of everybody else. I loved the beginning. I thought this was going to be a full 5-star book there for quite a while but I didn’t enjoy the second half as much, which lowered my rating. Yes, parts of the beginning were slow, but I thought it was really well written. I thought the people, the magic system, and just all the world-building, in general, was great. I was buying the whole history and how this magical world functioned and considering this was a retelling, I thought everything was really clever.
My problems came in the second half. I think Walter was trying to do too much and she started to lose me on her story choices. The first half was so set-up, everything had such a deliberate and steady pace to it, and in comparison, the second half turned into a clusterf*ck. It was such a different pace that it was jarring to me. And I think Walter was trying to put too many important things into such a small section. We have a moderate twist, then after that a pretty big twist that has a little twist attached to it, then after that a giant twist. It was just way too much. So many things were not like they seemed so it made it that I no longer trusted the author to tell me the real story. I lost complete trust to the point that I started to wonder if what I was reading was real or if maybe it was a dream or vision instead. Unfortunately, in the end, that feeling and distrust affected my enjoyment.
There has been some question if this is YA but I would call this New Adult instead. The characters are in their 20’s and there is some cruelty near the end that might bother some younger readers. There is one sex scene but it is just intimate and not explicit. In general, I liked parts of the romance, especially the pairing of the two characters, but I do hope that the romance is beefed up in book 2. The relationship needs to develop more and they really just need more time together as a couple.
Like other readers, I was not crazy about the ending. That’s how this is all going to end? I was happy to see that it’s not really the end and that there is a second book. I actually added a half star onto my rating since I now have hope that there will be a better overall ending. Even with the problems I had in the second half of the book, I enjoyed the first half so much that I would absolutely read a book 2. Walter is obviously talented and I think she is only going to get better and better. I’ll happily take all the new and talented sapphic fantasy writers that I can read. 3.50 Stars.
A copy was given to me for an honest review.