Malice | Heather Walter (ARC Review)

(Malice #1)
by Heather Walter
Del Ray Books
NA Fantasy
Available April 13, 2021

“If they want a monster, they shall have one.”

Viciously enchanting, Malice is an immersive and imaginative retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale. 

Briar is the human town closest to Etheria, the Fae land closed off to all humans and separated by magical mountains. In accordance with the Fae-human treaty, every year, a certain number of young girls are blessed by the Fae to have a small amount of magic that the women can wield to create small changes in appearance or talent for a sum of money. These women are called Graces, and they live within specific Grace Houses governed by the Grace Council. Alyce is half-Vila, a supposedly evil sector of magical beings who broke off from the Etherian Fae, and the last of her kind. Abandoned as a child, Alyce endured years of abuse and was almost killed for the green blood that runs through her veins. Eventually, she was placed within the Lavender House, working out of the rank basement to provide low-grade curses to people wanting to give others warts or affect their dancing abilities. Malice follows Alyce as she learns the full extent of her powers and falls for Aurora, the cursed princess.

I’m absolutely obsessed with the aesthetic of this book. Walter took a lot of details from the 1959 Disney film and twisted them into a fresh and vivid world of magic, faeries, curses. The worldbuilding is so clear and thorough that I can imagine every scene from the book, and can’t help but wonder how magical a film adaptation would look. Somehow, despite how detailed and complex the systems of magic and power are, the prose manages to fly by without ever feeling weighed down by exposition or info-dumping. It’s more difficult to clumsily summarize the plot of Malice than the story ever feels to read and understand the world–that’s both a promise and an apology for my poor summarizing skills above.

I know there’s been a trend of villain origin stories in the last decade. Somehow I’ve never read any of them, so maybe I’m behind the times on this one, but I love that Malice is told from Alyce’s perspective. Although I was screaming DON’T DO THAT!!! at her the entire last 20% of the book, I can understand why she needed to do what she did in the end from a character arc perspective. You can imagine my shock and disappointment when I realized there’s going to be a sequel while I’ve only just read the Advanced Reader Copy–who knows when I’ll get my hands on the next book! That being said, I literally cannot wait for the next installment.

Malice is more of a plot-book than a character-book, if you know what I mean. While I loved reading about Alyce and Laurel and especially Aurora, who stole my heart from the beginning, I feel like the story really takes center stage in this retelling. Still, I know that readers will adore these characters (or maybe yell constantly, like I did).

Fans of fairy tales, sapphic retellings, and villains will love Malice.

Thank you to NetGalley and Del Ray Books for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of and I will earn a commission if you click through the link above and make a purchase.

4 thoughts on “Malice | Heather Walter (ARC Review)

  1. Yeees!! I loved your review and this book sounds amazing (I’ve been keeping an eye out for it for a long time, too). I think I’m in a bit of a reading slump, so I might give this one and try and see if I can stick to it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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