Stain by A.G. Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Stain is one of AG Howards fairytale retellings. Unlike her Alice series, it's meant to be a standalone. It's a long book and I sometimes felt like I wanted to skip some parts in order to get to the point quicker. This one is going to get super spoilery, so if you actually want to read this one…stop now.
Stain is our MC and is also Princess Lyra. Born into the sun realm, she is unable to go outside or her skin will literally blister and burn. She is fated to marry the Prince of the Night Realm, Vesper. Their joining will unite and save the two kingdoms from certain (and never really fully explained destruction).
Keeping them apart is Stain/Lyra's evil stepmother and her daughters. And also Lyra has no voice. Oh, and also there's some kind of sleeping curse and cursed brambles. Howard has created a world of too many fairy tales mashed together. There are elements of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty (the one I thought I was getting myself into).
Lyra's Aunt Griselda, instead of you know…loving her and being a mother figure, decides to kill Lyra and throw her in a bog. OK. Cool cool. Then there's some ancient witches, and a shapeshifter, and trolls, and a Pegasus. Which…side note here, the Pegasus twist was pretty good.
Don't get me wrong, Howard's writing is wonderful. Her world building capabilities are damn near epic in scope. Sometimes though I feel like she suffers from too many details and trying to cram too many things into a single story. One of the things that I love about her writing is that she doesn't shy away from being gory or violent if the story calls for it. A lot of YA authors glaze over the darker elements of these sorts of things.
If you're already a fan of Howard's work, then you're probably going to like this one. It was sort of just OK for me.
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