Hey everyone! I was recently sent an ARC of Damsel by the very kind people at Harper360YA. Sadly, I found it to be a very strange reading experience – read on to find out why!
What the book was about…
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.
What I thought of it…
Sadly, from the minute I started this one, I didn’t connect with the writing. What little world-building there was felt heavy-handed and clumsy, and the writing was very simplistic and repetitive. There was no showing, only the most basic telling – “he did this, then he did this.” It just wasn’t enjoyable to read.
I took an immediate dislike to Prince Emory. He was disgustingly arrogant and misogynistic. All the talk of women as property was awful enough but when a comment was made implying that a woman was to blame for a man not being able to restrain himself? Count me out. I would have DNFd right there if this wasn’t a review book.
In terms of plot, NOTHING HAPPENED. The whole book just revolved around waiting for a wedding day. Ama was annoyingly passive for most of the book and it was all fairly bland and boring. As for the twist, it was glaringly obvious to me from very early in the book. There was absolutely no subtlety in the clues.
There were also lots of spelling mistakes in the ARC. Hopefully these were caught in the final edit and I know they’re not necessarily a reflection of the book’s quality in themselves but it was just one more thing that put me off.
The absolute worst thing about this book, though, was that it contained some of the grossest, most disturbing imagery I have ever come across. I was genuinely open-mouthed reading some of the lines. I don’t know what the heck it was meant to achieve but, coupled with the misogynistic BS, it just sickened me.
I’m trying to desperately to find something positive to say but all I can come up with is that it was a fast read due to its simplicity and I did find myself weirdly compelled (if only to get to the end and discover if my theory was correct). It’s possible the author was trying to highlight issues that women in contemporary society are facing but, as with The Surface Breaks, the execution didn’t work for me.
I always say that, even when I personally haven’t enjoyed a book, you should still try it for yourself if you’re remotely interested. But I’m making an exception in this case. Do yourself a favour and just skip this one.
If anyone else has read this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave me a comment below and let’s discuss! x