Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter


by Heather Walter

πŸ‘ΏπŸ‘ΏπŸ‘ΏπŸ‘Ώ (three four stars, as rated in angsty little teenage chaos demons that are literally gonna snap ANY MINUTE NOW!)

I received a free advanced reader copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

EDIT I have updated my rating now that it has been CONFIRMED that there will be a sequel. πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»πŸ™πŸ»

I have wavered between giving this book 3 and 4 stars (πŸ‘Ώ) for the better part of the day. While there’s much I really did like, there are also things that let me down and I’m equally invested in both feelings! So three stars it is for the time being since that feels like a middle-ground rating. But WHO EVEN KNOWS what I’ll be feeling tomorrow. Or in, like, 20 minutes….

Here’s the thing this book has going for it: if you treat someone like a villain long enough they are going to become one. It is LITERALLY the trope as old as time in fantasy fiction and we canonize basically every character it happens to. {{*cough cough* The Joker, Daenerys Targaryen}} Buuuut for whatever reason we, in the *real* world go round and round in circles with it like there’s no possible solution. We call kids thugs and delinquents and then punish them for lashing out. My heart genuinely ached for Alyce at portions of this book because I have seen what she went through reflected in the stories of so many kids who never were given a shot in this world. We may not have the “Grace Laws” of Malice’s world, but we have the prison industrial complex, and neither were designed to “protect” anybody but the powers that be. Incidentally, I’d like to see both of em burned to the ground 😏πŸ”₯ BUT I DIGRESS!
It is for this reason that I am going to give this book the benefit of the doubt. The whole of the story, admittedly, was inconclusive. As with something like The Joker, Malice reads more like an origin story than a retelling. But we as readers were not really given enough context to fully appreciate the after of this origin story. It just…. ends? And in the spectacularly unsatisfying and dramatic manner of GoT, at that. I can empathize with this story, I just am not convinced it was conveyed to me effectively. I need to emotionally connect with Alyce so much more near the end but found myself mostly annoyed with her. Also, I get tired of stories where everyone is out to get the MC. That just isn’t realistic. Everyone has somebody. Alyce needed her somebody. And this story didn’t really even give her that.
So, all that being said, I choose to treat this like the start of a series because I guess it could still be turned into one? 🀞🏻 And in that case, I would say that it’s downright terrific. To read what occurs AFTER all this and then delve into the “origin” story would drastically improved my experience. And thinking about how much I still want to know about this world and it’s characters, I am actually mad that there’s not more for me to read. HARUMPH! (Now I’m the one that’s angsty….)

Content warnings for this book: torture, child abuse, bullying, ostracization, forced medical experimentation, kidnapping, manipulation, brainwashing, forced servitude, state-sanctioned execution, authoritarianism, general themes of violence

Image Description: a flat lay featuring the book Malice by Heather Walter as seen as an ebook on the screen of a tablet. The tablet is surrounded by red roses, golden strands and white baby’s breath flowers. There are magical looking sparkles on many of the flowers. The cover of the book is blue with two hands snaking up the stem of a red rose on the right side. The word “Malice” is written vertically on the left side.

What are your feelings on fairy tale retellings? Are you a sucker for them like me or just “meh” about them?

All my best to you, friends! And thanks so much for reading. : )


Published by Sarah

My name is Sarah and I can't imagine my life without books. Actually, I can and it's terrible. I'm also into climbing, video games and bothering the nearest cat.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Malice by Heather Walter

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