Walter, Heather. Misrule. New York: Del Rey, 2022.
ISBN-13: 978-1984818683 | $27.00 USD | 480 pages | Fantasy
Does true love break curses or begin them? The dark sorceress of “Sleeping Beauty” reclaims her story in this sequel to Malice.
The Dark Grace is dead.
Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce wreaks 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. And no one will escape 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 it is a love that came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break. And the 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 turning into the monster Briar believes her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?
Or is true love only for fairy tales?
In the series
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
Misrule is the second half of the story begun in Malice, and while I did have mixed feelings about that first book, I’ve since warmed up to what Walter was trying to do. And it’s helped a lot with the execution of this one.
Alyce’s characterization felt much stronger in this one, especially as the book goes into her grief and turmoil at losing Aurora. And there’s a greater sense that while many others vilified her, Aurora never did, which is part of what hurts the most. I love the twist that she only truly becomes monstrous for love, and it isn’t about her changing from evil to good due to the purity of her beloved, which I initially thought it might be (and I’m much happier for it, even if I wasn’t sure that was the direction it was going at first).
And the way that this dynamic challenges her relationship with Aurora when she is awakened also presents the intriguing stakes I’d been waiting for, and it did not disappoint as they have to navigate the changes in both of them and figure out how to be together in this new and changed world.
I also love the continued exploration of the world, especially as the Briar Court evolves and previously exiled races are welcomed back. And the way it’s been influenced by the political changes is interesting, as it mirrors what the main characters have been going through, with Alyce going from being feared to the one in charge.
And this book overall works better because it is better paced, with all of the introductory stuff taken care of in the first book. The new characters are well incorporated among the established cast, and I remained engaged throughout.
This is a solid sequel, and whatever your feelings about the first book, it’s definitely worth your time to check it out.
Heather Walter is a native Southerner who hates the heat. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she is both a former English teacher and current librarian. Perhaps it is because she’s surrounded by stories that she began writing them. At any given moment, you can find her plotting.
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