Damsel is enjoyable, thrilling, and adventurous YA dragon fantasy with good characters and relationships. I agree with all readers who said, this will make a much better movie.
I read buddy read this with Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog and we both in general enjoyed the book.
Damsel by Evelyn Skye
Publication Date : March 14, 2023
Publisher : Random House Worlds
Read Date : April 13, 2023
Genre : YA / Fantasy
Pages : 368
Disclaimer – Many thanks to publisher for eARC via NetGalley.
This post contains affiliate links.
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.
A price must be paid.
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.
adventurous YA dragon fantasy
Damsel is adventurous and entertaining YA dragon fantasy that is going to be a Netflix movie and I agree with all readers who said, this will make a much better movie.
The plot is fast-paced. It starts with the introduction of Eloide and her family, her love for her home – drought-stricken Dutchy of Inophe- and its people, how she discovers and reluctantly accepts the negotiation her father made with a representative of reclusive and one of the wealthiest countries, Isle of Aurea, who will provide food and everything Inophe needs in exchange for Eloide’s hand in marriage.
As soon as they reach Aurea, Eloide is swept away by the bounty and riches of the country. Even though she doesn’t know much about the country and has a question about what Aurea is getting out of this negotiation, she goes through the marriage and weird rituals to become an Aurean princess, only to be betrayed not only by her new husband but also by her father. She discovers marriage and rituals are for sacrifice to a dragon living in the mountain, her life in exchange for Aurea’s prosperity.
But Eloide isn’t weak and she wouldn’t go down without fight. She is determined to use her wit and powers she discovers in the caves of the mountains to outwit the dragon and find an escape. And so the thrill of chase between Eloide and Dargon starts.
Writing is like a screenplay I didn’t mind that but I couldn’t help noticing it makes everything feel on a surface level and lacking in emotional depth. First half is more telling than showing but once Eloide is in the labyrinthian caves of the mountain, the story gets more and more interesting and exciting. It still lacks emotions but I enjoyed the thrill of the chase.
Eloide looked more mature for her age in the initial chapters and I’m still surprised how this smart and brilliant girl couldn’t see all the red flags and feel sinister vibe of Aurea. I liked her more when she faces danger. Even though it makes her vulnerable, she seemed more of her age. Her emotions and monologues are realistic. It was refreshing to see she was no damsel in distress. I loved how she overcame claustrophobia, how the whole experience changed her perspective and belief about living for others, and how used her strength, wits, and knowledge to find an escape.
I loved her younger sister Floria and her stepmother Lucinda. The relationships between Eloide and Floria and her love for her family shine more than individual characters. It was amazing how they both were not just sisters but best friends and wished the best for each other. Lucinda at first seemed an uptight person who didn’t love Eloide and Floria but as the story progresses we see it was Eloide’s perspective. I loved seeing this timid uptight Lucinda worry for Eloide, trying to protect her, and did all she could to save her. It was amazing when Eloide could finally see Lucinda’s love for them.
There is theme and layers of survival, sacrifice, selfishness, cruelty, injustice, ignorance, greed and sisterhood. The messages in the story were good. I enjoyed reading about the world, the difference between Aurea and Inophe, culture, geography and food. I enjoyed the legend of Dragon and Princess Victoria, which surprised me in a good way as it wasn’t how I expected.
My most favorite part is Eloide’s time in the cave. I loved the descriptions of the cave, species and food Eloide discovered, the safe cave, past of all princesses, how Eloide felt connected to the princesses who came before, and how they all revealed what they discovered and have gone through. I enjoyed all scenes between the Dragon and Elodie.
Twists and turns were mostly predictable. Climax was a little surprising. Everything from climax till the end was super interesting. It made me curious and excited all over again. The end was surprising and also unbelievable. I liked Dragon’s side of the story as well. I get the change in Eloide as it aligns with the prophecy but still, I would have liked if it was more elaborate.
Why 3.5 stars –
Like I said, it lacked emotional depth. There are some scenes that should have made me cry and angry for Eloide but I felt nothing.
There were lots of questions and Aureans had questionable morals. I can’t believe it took a little girl to change some people’s minds. I still can’t figure out how they could look the other way when Aurean royals kept sacrificing innocent girls for the past eight centuries!
I also feel there should be more explanation about the magic. I don’t get how exactly princesses could see the past or events by touching the blood? And it wasn’t like it was only after marriage, Eloide felt it in her tower when she arrived and I don’t think she had that power before. So was it women to women only and if so why other women in the story couldn’t see or feel it?
I also feel the indexing of dragon language, in the end, was unnecessary. I would rather have liked the map in that cave Eloide found and her edits to the map as she explored more.
I can’t help but feel this would have been mindblowing in the hands of my favorite fantasy authors.
Overall, Damsel is enjoyable, thrilling, and adventurous YA dragon fantasy with good characters and relationships but it lacks emotional depth and explanation of magic and the world.
I recommend this if you like,
Strong female character
Fast and adventurous plot
Theme of survival and injustice
Great sibling relationship
Misunderstood step-mother trope
Thank you for reading! Let’s chat..,
What do you think about the book and review?
Which is your favorite dragon fantasy?
Just in case you missed,,,,
Sign up to receive email whenever I publish new post-