Arc review: Damsel

“You see, Ama, it is for men to create. It is for men to decide. It is for men to speak. It is your place to listen, and follow, and gestate. And those are no small things! For without women to listen, how would the men’s words be heard? Without your fertile womb, how could my son hope to grow? You are important, Ama. Desperately important. But do not overreach.”

Rating: None/Undecided

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Thank you Balzer + Bray for providing me with an e-arc of this!


36260155The 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.

tw: rape, physical/sexual/emotional assault, mentions of suicide & self harm

There were things I really loved about this and then there were other things that legitimately turned my stomach. Because of that I’ve been struggling on what to rate this book. I simply can’t justify the things I loved without shedding light on the topics I had trouble with because HOLY TRIGGERS, there’s a lot. But at the same time I can’t write a review on the things I had trouble with without recognizing the things I enjoyed.

My main and biggest concern with this book is that it is marketed as YA, meaning 12 year old children who read YA can easily and unknowingly get their hands on this. And by no means am I dictating what children should be reading but there are no warnings about any of the triggering topics in this book. I personally understand the reason for all of these topics to be a huge part of the book, but I think a younger audience may not pick up on it so easily. (We’re talking about a 10+ year gap between myself and 12 year old children)

Initially, I really loved this story. The writing was phenomenal, and remained phenomenal throughout the book. I absolutely cannot take that away from the author. There are very few if any fantasy novels that I can devour in just about one sitting. Plus, I have to admit this was super unique and the ending kind of blew my mind (in good ways and unsettling ways). However, as we got deeper and deeper into the story and got to see Prince Emory for who he truly is I became more and more unsettled that this was a YA book. I do have to say that I was overall pleased with the ending of the book and was definitely caught by surprise, which was another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed.

I think this book would have faired better under the NA category to make sure it falls into the right hands.

Spoilers Ahead!

*if you don’t want to be spoiled then please stop reading, if you are concerned with some of the triggering topics here are some examples

1. It’s mentioned that Ama realizes on the first night everything is not as it seems and that’s largely because Emory shows up in her room unannounced while she is sleeping and literally starts fingering her, with zero consent.

Emory soon realizes that Ama is not consenting to what he’s doing and stops. However, upon leaving he says:

“The time will come soon enough that such restraint shall not be required of me,” Emory said. “And that is a day I truly look toward. Until then, I shall try not to allow your feminine powers to induce me to another such visit.”


2. The sense of entitlement Emory thinks he has over Ama because he rescued her – also gag worthy

“Your hand does not only belong to you, Ama. I find out, I named you, I brought you here. You are my bride, and your flesh is my flesh.”

Again, I understand why the author is going this route. I GET IT LOUD AND CLEAR. But, the issue is my younger self would have been like “wow omg he must really love her”. And that is NOT the point the author is trying to make. So again, I get it but I’m worried some reader’s might not.

3. Towards the end of this book Emory physically assaults Ama for basically finding a hobby he doesn’t approve of. I was just about done at this point but so was the book so I pushed through for the last few chapters.


As it turns out the reason Ama cannot remember her life or family before being “rescued” from the dragon’s lair is because Ama IS the dragon. And honestly, I was super blown away by that because I never saw it coming. It was a such a unique plot twist that I was living for. However, during the dragon slaying part in the beginning of this it is mentioned Emory must use three weapons, his sword, his brain, and a third unknown weapon.


No clue? Well, friends it was his “yard” a.k.a male genitalia. Yep, you read that right. BUT WAIT, IT GETS WORSE. Emory stabbed the dragon in the armpit, and then basically raped the dragon in the tear of it’s armpit from his sword which then turned the dragon into a human to be his “beautiful bride”. I wish you all could have seen my face reading this. I’m 99.9% sure I stared at my wall for a good ten minutes trying to figure out if I correctly interpreted what I read. Needless to say, I’m still at a loss for words over this.

The Verdict

All in all, I think this book is going to get A LOT of reviews similar to this one. It already has started to, but since the publication date isn’t for another few months I hope the publisher will take some of these reviews into consideration. At least, include a trigger warning page! Because if this gets into the wrong person’s hands I think it can be very harmful. Again, I loved the writing and certain plot twists but I just feel like there are so many other things about this book that I can’t ignore. Hopefully this can shed some light for anyone who is concerned about this one, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

Until next time!


2 thoughts on “Arc review: Damsel

    1. Thank you! It was definitely a bit of a shock going into this not knowing anything besides what we gather from the synopsis. It’s definitely not going to be a book for everyone but if you think that you can get past some of the triggering points it does have some really unique plot twists!

      Liked by 1 person

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