About the Book:
Author: Evelyn Skye
Page Length: 368
Publication Date: March 14, 2023
Publisher: Random House
Synopsis: A damsel in distress takes on the dragon herself in this epic twist on classic fantasy—a groundbreaking collaboration between New York Times bestselling author Evelyn Skye and the team behind the upcoming Netflix film Damsel, starring Millie Bobbie Brown.
Elodie never dreamed of a lavish palace or a handsome prince. Growing up in the famine-stricken realm of Inophe, her deepest wish was to help her people survive each winter. So when a representative from a rich, reclusive kingdom offers her family enough wealth to save Inophe in exchange for Elodie’s hand in marriage, she accepts without hesitation. Swept away to the glistening kingdom of Aurea, Elodie is quickly taken in by the beauty of the realm—and of her betrothed, Prince Henry.
But as Elodie undertakes the rituals to become an Aurean princess, doubts prick at her mind as cracks in the kingdom’s perfect veneer begin to show: A young girl who appears and vanishes from the castle tower. A parade of torches weaving through the mountains. Markings left behind in a mysterious “V.” Too late, she discovers that Aurea’s prosperity has been purchased at a heavy cost—each harvest season, the kingdom sacrifices its princesses to a hungry dragon. And Elodie is the next sacrifice.
This ancient arrangement has persisted for centuries, leading hundreds of women to their deaths. But the women who came before Elodie did not go quietly. Their blood pulses with power and memory, and their experiences hold the key to Elodie’s survival. Forced to fight for her life, this damsel must use her wits to defeat a dragon, uncover Aurea’s past, and save not only herself, but the future of her new kingdom as well.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links.
There are certain aspects of the story that I really liked. The writing is immersive, and the protagonist is compelling. I love the relationship between Elodie and her sister Floria. They have such a beautiful connection, and that never wavered. I also like how Elodie and Floria’s relationship with their stepmother Lucinda grew and changed. They all have big realizations about their bond once thrust into a life-or-death situation.
There are also some great messages about strength, sisterhood, and forgiveness throughout the story, and the plot is very fast-paced and suspenseful. It’s engrossing and high-stakes, and I was really interested in seeing how Elodie would be able to save herself from the dragon because it was pretty clear no one was going to help her.
Elodie does receive help in places where she least expects it. The story includes many chapters from the points of view of princesses who came before her. These chapters reveal what happened to them after they were sacrificed to the same dragon, and they offer a bit more detail into the history of the kingdom. I love how Elodie uses their knowledge and stories to survive.
However, the story very much reads like a screenplay, which makes sense since it started as a screenplay. There were A LOT of plot holes, and I found myself having more questions than answers when I finished the story. I also felt like the story lacked development. I think that’s why I had so many questions. Everything felt very surface level, and I wanted more – more character and relationship development, more world-building, more…everything. That being said, I appreciate how the opulence and good cheer in the kingdom contrasts the depravity and moral bankruptcy of its leaders and the complicity of its citizens. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.
The story feels like it was written for a younger audience, minus the scenes that brought up Elodie’s sexual experience and excitement to be intimate with the prince. Those scenes felt out of place contextually in comparison to the rest of the story and made me wonder who the story was geared toward.
On a bright note, I do think this will transition well to film, and I read the Millie Bobbie Brown is starring in it alongside Angela Bassett and Robin Wright (Yay Princess Buttercup!). I’m intrigued! Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The suspense and action.
- The messages of sisterhood.
Life is not as simple as good and evil. It is mostly lived in the pages in between.
My destiny belongs to me, and I will decide what that is.
Beauty combined with ferocity was a formidable thing.
What power could grief wreak?