Misrule by Heather Walter is the continuation of the Malice duology. Following Alyce’s wreckage of Briar, she is still trying to wake Aurora even after 100 years

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From Goodreads:

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 descending into the monster Briar believed her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?
Or is true love only for fairytales?

Take care you do not become the monster they believe you to be, she’d said.
But a monster was what I needed to be all along.

After a series of bad sequels, I was nervous going into this. However, Heather Walters has managed to not just avoid sequel syndrome, but make me forget that the concept exists. This book took me by surprise, as I wasn’t quite sure how you would finish from Malice in a satisfying way. Especially if you consider the inherent “villainy” of Maleficent. Yet, Walters managed to do it.

“Tragedy teaches us things about ourselves and about others,” Regan goes on gently. “Sometimes we do not like what we see. But we have to look anyway. We have to know.”

Picking up a hundred years after Malice, we find Alyce, now ruling over what once was Briar. She has brought in imps to help her, dark fae, and shifters alike. Her goal has been to take down each of the other kingdoms one by one, and she has almost completed her tasks. But Alyce is clearly lonely, and she keeps Aurora’s body hidden away. The contrast between Alyce the adult, and Alyce the still in love barely-adult, shows itself well when it comes to the way she manages Aurora’s slumber.

“Would you tell another?” one begs. “With more dead people in it this time. And don’t leave out any details. We want all the gory bits.”

The humorous reprieve that the imps provided truly balanced out this story, giving you breaks from the more in-depth aspects. Political fantasy is not generally something I enjoy, but adding this in with the constant romantic distraction fit well. Our characters were able to grow into their new roles, while still maintaining who they are at their core. Often in sequels, it feels as though we lose large pieces of who the characters are in order to progress the plot. In Misrule, this was not the case.

Desperate people commit foolish acts.

With old and new characters alike, Heather Walter crafted an amazing duology with a fascinating plot. This book could stand on its own, but tying it in with the first book further emphasizes the experiences and world-building. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this book was to read.

Thank you to Netgalley and Del Rey for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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