~ Book Review: Damsel (ARC) ~

Published: April 18, 2023

Author: Evelyn Skye

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 Bobby 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 woman 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.

Damsel appealed to me immediately with its intriguing concept and cool cover. I was also curious to read it as it was adapted from an upcoming screenplay of a movie for Netflix. The writing reads like a screenplay in some ways so I think Netflix will not have any problems bringing this story to life where the novel and movie feel connected. The story follows the main character, Elodie, who is from drought stricken Inophe where her father is lord. Her father arranges for Elodie to marry the crown prince of Aurea to form an alliance and help save their people. The marriage is not what Elodie was hoping for when she is sacrificed to a dragon. For me, I did not like that this was all spelled out in the synopsis as I felt the reader loses the tension leading up to the sacrifice.

The standout of this novel is the relationship between Elodie and her sister, Floria. The bond they share was well-written and explored. As for Elodie herself, I did find her a little inconsistent to fit the tropes instead of these traits just being part of her character. She was clever in scenes that called for it and timid in others. She is written following a lot of tropes, such as, “not like other girls” and “the chosen one.” I am usually a fan of the latter one, but I rarely enjoy the first as it usually involves putting down every other female character just to make the main one stands out. Unfortunately, this novel followed this where it tried too hard to show that Elodie was “special.” This does get better as the story moves forward, but, for me, it could have used a lot more care.

The novel includes a whole language for the dragons, so the story goes into its interpretations and basic linguistics. While it is commendable that this large task of inventing a whole language was done, it does take up a lot of the story.  Since there is only so much the author can do to stay true to the screenplay, I understand that there are limitations; however, I do wish that maybe it was separated a little more, so it didn’t seem as formulaic where it tries to check off every box from the screenplay. I would have loved some expansion on Elodie’s personality which would greatly have helped me connect more with her decisions as the story moves forward. I do love the idea of the princess saving herself from evils, but I feel this novel did not quite get there. I do think it will make a nice young adult movie, so I look forward to watching it later this year. Overall, this was a great concept, but did not quite work for me as a novel.

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Random House Worlds, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

2 thoughts on “~ Book Review: Damsel (ARC) ~

  1. Damnit…. I was waiting for the Dutch version to be released later this summer, but I’ve read 2 similar reviews today and I don’t think I want to spend a lot of money on this book. Dutch books are much more expensive. So, I will look for the English book.


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