by Eleana K. Arnold
E-arc, 320 pages
Published October 2nd, 2018 by Balzer + Bray
The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.
When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.
However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.
I received an e-arc from Edelweiss plus in exchange for an honest review. This do not affect my opinion in any way.
Trigger warning: animal cruelty, rape, misogyny, self-harm, suicide.
Everyone knows the trope of damsel-in-distress. It’s the oldest known trope of ever, always present in the media and the earliest introduced of us through fairytales and Disney movies. It’s where the princess is kidnapped and trapped, and a gorgeous prince in a shining armor saved her. In Damsel though, the well-loved and comforting story takes a darker turn.
“I am no one,” she said. “I know nothing.”
“You are not no one,” the man told her. “You are the damsel I rescued from a dragon. You are my destiny, and I am yours.”
The writing is really gorgeous, the prose and structure is poetic that it feels like you are reading a tale from the medieval. It adds to the setting and the feeling of the story. The dual point of view also works really well; the first part of the story is told from Prince Emory’s point of view, and the rest is told from Ama’s. I think it’s a great way to tell the story as it adds to the questions building up as you read the book.
The story starts out like in a fairytale, with Emory fighting the dragon and saving the damsel. Ama was disoriented and confused, remembering and wearing nothing. Here, at first, Emory was shown as the gentle, dreamy prince charming. But then as we read further, the story gets increasingly darker and the trigger escalates quickly. The hints of cruely and misogyny that could be hidden at first became too obvious, and as our damsel becomes increasingly trapped, the reader began to question everything they know and feel about the trope. The prince charming became obsessive and violent, the obedience becomes fear, and the love turns to anger.
This book is not what I expected, but I really enjoyed reading it. The problem is, it’s so dark and gritty and it is full of trigger warnings. The author has a way with words so the triggering scenes she wrote must’ve been deliberate, and while I understand the importance of the story, I couldn’t justify triggering your audience for the sake of getting your point across. I couldn’t bring myself to give it any rating as it is very conflicting for me, so if you do decided to read it, please pay attention to the trigger warnings above.