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Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince 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, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale.

As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in.

Damsel is a book that tells you where it's going so you can settle in for the ride. But just because I knew what was coming didn't mean that I couldn't devour every word on the pages. We start on a prince's journey to rescue a damsel from a dragon before jumping into Ama, the rescued damsel's amnesiac mind.

What follows is a growing, unavoidable sense that all is not right, and questions need to be asked about just what kings are allowed to do in the name of protecting the status quo.

Damsel had tension, unease, foreboding and a healthy amount of rage mixed up in its pages. It also showcased some spectacular gaslighting.

This is a story that is raw with rage and unfairness that won't let you look away.


A dark and twisted allegory that had me at the edge of my seat the entire read through. But beware of triggers lurking.

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