Book - 2018
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Waking up in the arms of Prince Emory, Ama has no memory of him rescuing her from a dragon's lair, but she soon discovers there is more to the legend of dragons and damsels than anyone knows and she is still in great danger.
Publisher: New York, NY : Balzer + Bray, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2018].
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062742322
Characteristics: 309 pages ; 22 cm.


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I truly have no idea how to rate this one and this feels so very arbitrary. It was absolutely gut-wrenching and hard to get through, but at the same time, I really did appreciate the commentary on rape culture, and I found the ending to be satisfying in ways I didn't expect it to be. There should be every trigger warning in the world preceding this review, and preceding the book, though; there is animal abuse, rape, and explicit content in every sense of the word.

Ama is a damsel, rescued by Prince Emory from a dragon. She has no memories of her time before Emory, and so she is forced to learn everything about the world all at once, as well as her place in it; she will be crowned Queen, married to Emory after he becomes King, and with that title comes all of the expectations of the misogynistic world she lives in. But Ama has a mind of her own, a lynx named Sorrow, and an iron will, and she will not be so easily silenced.

The story in Damsel is fairly slow, as it is basically just following Ama as she learns about the world she has been thrust into, but there is an ever-present tension that makes the entire thing uncomfortable. You can just feel the sexism shimmering in the air when Ama interacts with these characters, and her own naivety makes every situation rife with possibility for things to go wrong. I was always worried, about Ama, about Sorrow, about what was coming next.

I must say, it was not the most pleasant experience in the world.

Ama as a character is almost as challenging as the people she interacts with. She's headstrong, which I can get behind, but there was just something about her that made her hard to describe, even. I didn't hate her, but I certainly didn't like her. And everyone else was just completely unsympathetic, which is basically the point of the novel as a whole, but I struggled with wanting to read it because of that. Why read a book when you don't like anyone involved in it?

I guess that the purpose of the book is to highlight the ways in which our society perpetuates these stereotypes and tropes. In this case, it was all so messed up and challenging, but in most, I think we still have the tendency to idolize these kinds of hero-rescues-damsel type stories. We're certainly moving away from it, but this fractured fairy tale certainly serves as a wakeup call.

I definitely wouldn't recommend it as YA, though, unless a reader was extremely ready and eager for this kind of uncomfortable subject matter. I spent the entire listening experience cringing, and that's not something I'd want for anyone else.

HKK_Teen_Staff Apr 10, 2020

A damsel, a prince, and a rescue that seems too perfect to be true...because it is. This feminist fairy tale is dark, haunting, and not for the faint of heart.

Jan 06, 2020

A beautiful damsel! A handsome prince! A mysterious dragon! An adorable orphaned hell-beast! And one big freaky wall. As they say on "GOT", "If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." A sure and savage take on a traditional fairy story, this will appeal to everybody who likes a twist in the tale.

lgmosher Sep 03, 2019

One of the worst "strong female" books that I have read. It is a man hater book, not a feminist book. The write makes the reader uncomfortable with her heavy use of sexual play. Everything is rushed and misplaced. There is no build up... the plot is broken, the story is scattered and hard to follow.

Don't waste your time with this book.... Go read something better.

JCLKathrynC Jul 19, 2019

This is a quick read that not only makes the reader uncomfortable at times, but also downright infuriates the reader as well. Ama has no memory of who she was before she was "rescued" and her so called "savior" does not treat her well at all. The Queen does her best to teach Ama how to cope with her situation because it is was she had to endure as well. Emory gets what he deserves in the end, and that is my favorite part.

Jun 19, 2019

Oh this was good. Simple yet effective. A thought provoking novel set in a fairy tale setting with a satisfying conclusion.

Mar 23, 2019

Well that is not how I expect this book to end, and very safe to say that there won't be a series from it. I mean honestly, how can you write a book about repressing a girl because she's a "damsel" and you're now "King". Overall it's a very emotional read, but I was able to finish it in a day. I gave it 3/5 stars. 🌠🌠🌠

Watermelody Jan 26, 2019

Really cool concept, but average execution. I found it difficult to connect to and like the main character (despite her love of cats), I think due to the poor use of third person perspective. Admittedly, I only read the first 50 pages, but the story refused to pick up.
If you like twists on fairy tales, e.g. Cinders, have a go at it.


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Jul 09, 2019

Other: animal abuse, animal death, mentions of self-harm, mentions of suicide, psychological abuse

Jul 09, 2019

Sexual Content: sexual assault, rape

Jul 09, 2019

Violence: slight gore


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