Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ARC for review!
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 it was a power like mine that 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.
Alyce’s character and background is just so intriguing. How she was found on the streets and handed in to the crown, who is her family and why is she different than the other graces. We really got quite an in depth history of the lands of Briar and Etheria and also Malterre. I really enjoy that we get the backstory and understand the prejudices that Alyce has had to deal with her whole life. I honestly think she was justified in how her arc progressed, finally finding happiness with Aurora and then having it snatched away by the Briar King.
The Graces were an interesting addition to the plotline. I liked that this was something completely new that was added into this fairy-tale that was unique and compelling. The contrast between the graces and Alyce really drove home how ostracised and looked down upon she was even though she was stronger than them. Just seeing how controlled they were from the crown and the length that these graces would go to secretly to ensure that they don’t fade.
Aurora’s character I didn’t feel as much a connection to as I would of hoped. I think she’s a product of her environment and means well but doesn’t understand the depth of hatred the realm has for Alyce. I think she really should of known that her father would blackmail Alyce into working for him especially after she seen what she could do with her powers. Kal on the other hand I felt like was almost too good to be true. He just seems to have all the answers for Alyce which immediately made me not trust him. I knew there was more to his story than what we were being told but the way his storyline played out seems a little rushed.
Overall I was highly invested in this storyline. The magic system and the world building was descriptive and pretty easy to understand. I would definitely appreciate a more in depth look at Vila magic and what the limitations are like we’ve gotten about the Graces. The pacing was a slower at the start and then felt rushed right at the end. But I was highly entertained, I was invested in Alyce and there were some twists and turns along the way that kept me turning the pages!
⭐️4/5 stars Can’t wait to finish off this duology and see what will happen next!