Disclosure: I received an ARC for this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you’ve been here a while, you’ll remember my review of the first book in this series, Malice, and how I raved and raved about the retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the villain’s point of view. I loved the characters and the world Heather Walter built, and I couldn’t wait for the next book. If you haven’t read Malice, please stop here and know you need to read both books as soon as possible: there are likely spoilers in this review of things that happened in the first book.
For the record, I wanted to throw Misrule across the room (a hard thing to do when reading an ebook on a device I don’t want to break) more than once. Let me explain.
It’s been a century since Alyce turned into the dragon and completely annihilated the country of Briar. Aurora is cursed to eternal sleep until kissed awake, only ANYONE’s kiss can wake her up and when she wakes the Graces have adjusted her memories to ensure she hates Alyce. So Aurora secretly sleeps in a chamber in the castle, and Alyce has become Mistress of the Dark Court. She made the country she destroyed a haven for other dark Fae (goblins, imps, demons, shapeshifters) and for the last hundred years they’ve warred upon the light Fae courts.
All goes well until circumstance wakes Aurora, and from here the plot twists and weaves in unpredictable and occasionally infuriating ways as Alyce and Aurora, along with the Dark Court, work through relationship and political issues that seem insurmountable.
This is where I wanted to throw things: Walter’s character journey for Alyce and Aurora is so hard to read, because anyone who’s been through a messed up relationship can see their mistakes. Honestly, some of those mistakes are toxic dealbreakers in real life, so it’s incredibly frustrating to see them struggle with misinformation, mistrust, and some pretty serious internal growth. More than once I yelled at Alyce, since the story is from her point of view, for her foolish thoughts and actions. By the time the resolutions to the multiple threads of storyline tied together, they were so satisfying I may have cursed Walter a bit by the end for all the angst.
I loved this book. By the time I got to the second half I couldn’t put it down, to the detriment of my sleep and home obligations. The emotional and plot rollercoaster Heather Walter puts the reader through in Misrule is masterfully done, and I spent most of the book unable to predict the next twist. If you’re looking for a fairytale that brings together elements of high fantasy, Labyrinth, and a less-than-traditional romance novel, Misrule is for you.
If you like the star system, I give Misrule a full five for being a hell of a ride.