Publication Date: May 10th, 2022
Hardcover. 432 pages.
"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?"
Note: While this review has no spoilers for Misrule, there will be spoilers for some of the events from Malice. Please read with caution if you haven't read the first book and intend to!
I absolutely loved Malice when I read it last year, making Misrule one of my most anticipated sequels to be published this year and it did not disappoint. This has been the villain origin story that I've always wanted and absolutely exceeded my expectations. I'm honestly sad that this is the end of the story while at the same time extraordinarily pleased with the conclusion.
A century has passed since Briar fell and Alyce–now known as Nimara to those in the Dark Court–has taken over the land and turned it into a safe haven for her fellow rescued Vila, Shapeshifters, Demons, and Imps. It’s been a bloody journey to get to this point, but Alyce and her newfound family feel justified in taking back their lives and putting an end to their oppressors.
Princess Aurora, having been cursed for a second time at the end of Malice, remains in a state of perpetual sleep that can be reversed by the kiss of anyone except Alyce. The catch, of course, is that upon awakening Aurora will forget her history with Alyce and instead hate her, which is why Alyce has left Aurora sleeping all these years as she searches for a way to break the curse without the consequences. But when a mysterious human man washes up on the shores of Briar without precedent, things don’t end up going as planned for Alyce.
Throughout Malice, we were able to dive deep into Alyce’s mind and follow her development into someone who no longer lets anyone else decide her fate or choices. In Misrule, we see a very changed Alyce from the one we first met: a confident, bold, and almost merciless Vila who feels no real remorse for what she has done to achieve the place she has for herself and those around her. The inhabitants of the Dark Court are still working to eradicate the threat of humans and Fae forever, and a larger war remains a distant but ever-growing threat.
I really loved this chance to see Alyce thrive in a new environment in which she is no longer part of the oppressed and where she can truly be herself and handle an entirely new array of challenges from what she faced during her time as the Dark Grace, as well as fulfill her desire to help those who have suffered in the same ways she has. I also appreciated that we got to see Alyce be challenged by others about some of her choices and how she handled some of the events during and after the fall of Briar.
The Aurora and Alyce love story from Malice was incredibly compelling and I was eager to see where things would go in this sequel given everything that happened at the end of Malice and since Aurora was once again in a cursed sleep. Walter dove deep into their relationship and really held nothing back in regards to the rift that has grown between and the conflicts that continue to arise as Aurora comes to understand the villainous role that Alyce has taken on. Will their love be enough to get them through how much has changed, including themselves?
Misrule also tackles a lot of important, difficult questions. Was Alyce’s merciless wrath justified? When–if ever–is it okay to take revenge? How far is too far? Where do true loyalties lie and how can one determine who deserves their loyalty? Does true love exist? These and so many more topics are explored in Misrule and Walter does a truly excellent job of doing so in a sensitive, thorough, and utterly compelling manner. I am still thinking about this book–the plot, the characters, the settings, everything is so vivid in my mind and I just loved it all so much!
Overall, I’ve given Misrule 4.5 stars! This was an incredible ending to one of my favorite retellings and duologies. If you enjoy retellings, villain origin stories, or simply a compelling, excellently written tale of struggle, revenge, and triumph with strong character development.
*I received a copy of Misrule courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*