Author: Elana K. Arnold
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! I was browsing the shelves at my local library, and I had to return Damsel before I could read it the first time. When I saw it sitting on the shelf of the other library I frequent, I snatched it up. Honestly, what got me at first was its beautiful, gorgeous cover. But the story inside ripped me apart, put me back together, and had me roaring with triumph and rage. With gorgeous, lush prose, a premise that tipped a familiar fairy tale onto its head, and wonderful characters, I will never forget Damsel! One of my favorite books of 2018, hands down! A triumph of heart, audacity, and horror, all juxtaposed together! Elana K. Arnold has outdone herself with this book.
You think you know the tale of Sleeping Beauty. A prince, a sleeping damsel, and a dragon. But in Prince Emory’s world, a prince can only become king after he’s slain a dragon and rescued the damsel imprisoned by the creature. He rescues a beautiful damsel, who he names Ama and has no memory of her life before being the dragon’s captive. Everything is as it should be… Or so it seems. When Ama discovers that art, thinking, and being anything but a wife and mother are barred to her, she begins to question everything she thought she knew. There are fiery secrets to be uncovered by the lost young woman, and she soon discovers that nothing is as it seems to be…
I just finished this book last night and I’m still reeling. It was brutal, beautiful, unapologetically feminist, fierce and thought-provoking, and I loved every moment of it. That isn’t to say, of course, that there weren’t times when I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I had to put the book down and do something else. By all means, this book was not easy to get through. It had violence of every sort, but I think by doing so, Arnold was paying homage to the original fairy tale. I am, still, absolutely blown over. The writing was beautiful, and the pacing was breakneck; even when I wasn’t reading, it was still heavy on my mind. I read through half of it the first day I started, and I broke the second half over two days, as I’ve been busy with personal issues. I finished it last night in the tub and was blown away, in the best way! I loved Ama, and her character development from a lost, confused girl into a confident and self-assured young woman. Emory, Pawlin, the queen mother, Tillie, and Alyss helped provide great foils to her. I loved the way that this book called out misogyny and sexism, and talked about consent and agency. And that ending! I’m still thinking about it. Arnold did a fantastic job. The only thing I would say would be to be cautious and give this to older teens, as the violence gets a big focus throughout the book. Nonetheless, this book is definitely one of my recent favorites. Absolutely phenomenal! The bottom line: Dark, gorgeous, and surprising, I loved Damsel, especially the surprising ending! What an amazing book, especially considering the political climate we’re living in currently. Next on deck: Archenemies by Marissa Meyer!