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3.58  ·  Rating details ·  872 Ratings  ·  345 Reviews
The 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
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Balzer + Bray
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KristynRene The Hype Queen of Books Ignore the other answer. This book is a masterpiece of poetry. It is entirely metaphorical and filled to the brim with symbolism. This book will help…moreIgnore the other answer. This book is a masterpiece of poetry. It is entirely metaphorical and filled to the brim with symbolism. This book will help you grow. Or it will destroy you. Either way, the ending is the best part. (less)
Tatiana This is not a romance at all. I would say this book is the opposite of a romance.

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Emily May
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Secrets, like memories, do not disappear just because they are buried by snow or time or distance.

What an ugly, awful little book. I thought it was pretty awesome, too, but then I’m a fan of Arnold’s dark twisted feminist stories that most other people seem to hate.

It looks like Arnold is continuing her trend of writing horrible, depressing books that leave me in a constant state of anxiety while reading. What Girls Are Made Of ripped my heart to shreds last year, and this dark fairy tale just
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
I honestly can't give this one a rating, and that is largely due to the number of triggers - including graphic sexual assault, rape, self-harm, mental and physical abuse, suicide, and animal harm. Please please please be aware of that while making a decision on whether or not this book is for you. I sincerely hope the publisher adds warnings to the book itself and to the description on Goodreads. (More below...)

First off, the writing is gorgeous. Elana is extremely talented. This is a feministic
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Margo Lanagan, Catherynne M. Valente
4.5 stars

Oh boy, this novel is going to get so many 1-star reviews! This is what happens when a book like this is marketed as YA. Are there going to be any teens that would read and like it? I doubt it. This is a novel created for lovers of literary fantasy and ugly ancient fairy tales. It is written in a simple language, it does not have a lot of characters or drama. It is quiet and dreamlike. It might get a Printz nod (I hope) from librarians (they did give honor to The Kingdom of Little Wound
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“For Emory to take his father’s place as king, he must do as his father had done, and his father before him. He must conquer a dragon and rescue a damsel, and take that maiden as his bride.”

I get what this book was trying to do, I really do, and I appreciate it, but I just don’t personally think it was well done. This is a play on the “damsel in the tower, guarded by a dragon, and a brave knight comes to save her” b
destiny ♎ [howling libraries]
When I first heard about this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I saw it hailed as a dark fairytale retelling, but I’ve been promised that many times by other stories that delivered on the “retelling” while leaving aside any hints of the “dark” aspect. Damsel, on the other hand, is exactly what it promises—an incredibly dark fantasy story that pulls no punches.

“That is the way of being a woman, to carve away at herself, to fit herself to the task, but, also, to be able to carve herself in a diff
Candace Robinson
I'm all about equality for everyone, but I felt like this book definitely put men to shame, and that's a real effing shame.

Also, Emory was a weird guy, like sometimes he felt cocky but okay, but then he would have these strange times where he'd do weird things like drag Ama around by a leash. Another thing was, I hated Ama too, so it was hard for me to feel sorry for her, or anyone really. I think I felt sorry for Tillie the most—she needed to get the hell out of that castle! Pawlin was also sup
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
2.5 stars. Are you REALLY angry about how men treat women, dismissively and as sex objects? If so, read on. If not, your mileage may vary with this allegorical fantasy about a prince, a damsel and a dragon.

Prince Emory is on a quest, a traditional rite of passage: He is traveling to the gray lands to conquer a dragon, and bring back a beautiful young damsel to be his wife, as his father and forefathers have done before him. The novel goes into some detail about his quest and his tension-filled f
Jeff Zentner
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Elana Arnold is a master of writing the struggles of young women and the violence they endure. DAMSEL is a story that feels both modern and ancient, a harrowing and compelling gothic fairytale of a young woman passing through fire to reclaim herself. It reads like a pre-Grimm-Brothers fairytale, before they were sanitized bedtime stories, when they went to the darkest reaches of the human heart to bear witness of who we really are.

You will not be able to put this book down. You will not be able
Alana • thebookishchick
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 thin
Sabrina The Trash Queen
That end was just what I need it.
Die fucker, bye you pissed of shit, you will not be missed.

This is the sort of book that is going to get a lot of 1 stars rating our none at all.
Is hard to give a rating for this one, being that involves so many triggers.
But overall, a very interesting story. The writing is solid. Very short.

“One should not make a pet out of a wild beast”

TW: violence of all types; animal harm and self harm.


➳Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for

Apr 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arcs, 2018-reads, fantasy
This book is fucking terrible.

“Damsel” tells the story of a prince off to slay a dragon and rescue a girl who he will take home to be his queen. When she awakes she has no memory of her rescue, her family or her very name and is left at the mercy of the prince who takes her back to his kingdom and mother, but things are not as they seem and she soon finds herself struggling to come to terms with her present while hunting for the answers in her past.

Where to begin because holy shit. How about w
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-books, arc
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, this is going to be one of those books with very polarizing reviews. You’re either going to love it, hate it, or be in the middle (like me) where you like the writing and message, but you’re also shaking your head going, WTF?

Firstly, here are the trigger warnings: Sexual assault/rape, mental and physical abuse, harm to animals, suicide and self harm (it’s discussed), imprisonment.

Even though this is a dark fairy t
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
↠ 3.5 stars

I received a copy in exchange for a honest review.

This is going to be such a divisive book; looking down the ratings my friends have given it on Goodreads, there is such a variation between 4 stars and 2 stars. It is a dark, provocative and slightly terrible novel, but it doesn’t promise to be anything different. It is a book about the treatment of women in a world dominated by men, and it is depressing.

Before I go on, I want to state something: I don't believe this book can be easil
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not the Prince-rescues-Princess-from-Dragon book you expect, but it may very well be the book that you—or someone you know—needs.

Embrace your Sorrow.

Free your Fury.

Be the Dragon.
Guuuuys I think my reading mojo is baaack. Because while I could hardly tear myself away from my last read, I was pretty much incapable of putting this down. DAMSEL consumed me.

All kings, for as far back as our memory goes, are made the same way. The prince must venture alone away from Harding. He must find the dragon. He must conquer the dragon, and free the damsel from captivity. When he returns home with his prize, he has proven himself worthy of the crown and is made king.

This is a weird d
Allison C
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
This was a very dark book, and went the opposite way that I expected altogether. The “twist” wasn’t even a twist, and the entire book is stuffed with so much disgusting content that it became repulsive. It is also very dark, and the supposed good ending is dark in its own way. The messages that are portrayed in this book are horrible, as the King’s mother simply tells the damsel that even if you’re suffering, it’s simply the way it’s always been. I won’t even bother talking about the king, as he ...more
Vicky Who Reads
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, wishlist
5 stars

TW: rape, self-harm, abuse, animal abuse, graphic violence, bestiality

This is not a book for everyone, but it was the book for me.

I can feel all the people cringing away from this book, and know that you don't have to read it, and no one will fault you for not reading it. I can feel all the DNFs coming this way, as it's a very graphic book marketed towards the YA audience, and DNFing is a completely valid thing to do.

As you can see by the long list of trigger warnings, this can be very da
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

This is quite a unique, feminist fairy tale! First- let me just put out a trigger warning for... Idk, literally everything? Perhaps I should have made more note of this as I was reading, but I didn't, so just... lots of awful junk goes down, but if you are able to read it, it does lead to a story that will make you as furious about our misogynist society as you need to be.

It poses, at fi
Kate (Reading Through Infinity)
2.5 stars

TWs for sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, animal mutilation
I have so many thoughts about this book and not all of them good. There's a lot of sexism written into the story, and the women are treated as vessels for childbirth and objects of men. While, it's easy to see that the author purposefully included this as a social commentary on our real world, it was painfully uncomfortable to read at times, and some scenes felt unnecessary. If sexual assault is a trigger for you,
Kayla Brunson
Aug 02, 2018 marked it as dnf
ARC provided via Edelweiss for an honest review.

I couldn’t finish this one guys. This was was a book where I should have read the reviews before requesting a copy. I saw a beautiful cover and thought the synopsis was promising. Ya’ll, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

This book needs to come with a freakin’ trigger label attached to it.
→Self Harm
→Rape, Attempted Rape

And the list literally goes on! I had to put the book down and step away. I honestly don’t understand
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I am at a lost of words on what I just read. I think I'm mostly at a lost on what I read.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A deeply dark and twisted fairytale reimagining, Damsel takes all the usual fairytale gender roles and dials them up to eleven, creating a shockingly reflective story about the worst of gender roles and subjugation.

From the cover and synopsis of Damsel I expected a sweet and adventurous novel about a girl who didn’t fit the damsel mould, who was brave and fought and showed the world how awesome strong girls can be. I expected a celebration of female strength. Instead, going into this book with
dnf around 35%.

this was one of the most painfully boring things I’ve read in a while. I can see that the author tried to go for some kind of fairy tale satire, but trying to keep reading this felt like being force fed stale communion bread.

I don’t even know how to describe this. it’s a story that tries to highlight the problems with the traditional narrative of a handsome prince rescuing a damsel in distress, and the power imbalance inherent to this kind of patriarchal framing. which is someth
Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
Love at first sight!
Honestly, something about the cover just works for me. And the synopsis sounds promising as well, so I am in =D
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
ARC provided by Edelweiss.

I don't remember the last time I was so indecisive about rating a story. My initial reaction was quite a negative one and some of those initial reservations are still here with me at the end of the book. On the other hand, when I look at the bigger point I think the author was trying to make - I have to admit it's quite brilliant.

So now onto the details -

The prince is set to slay the dragon and save the damsel. Prince and the damsel are each other's "destiny", "mates"
Oct 03, 2018 marked it as to-read
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 26%

I'm not really sure what I expected, I'm hoping to pick this up again possibly at a later date, but it's putting me in a bit of a reading slump and I need to power through with my reading this month. Hopefully when I come back around to reading this I might find it easier and more engaging.
Minni Mouse
Admittedly, I skimmed this book in an hour. On the other hand, it was boring and senseless and one star is being generous.

This reminds me of the tone behind Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge in its attempted creativity and dark themes...(view spoiler)
hannah ✧/ᐠ-ꞈ-ᐟ\ (on hiatus)
Tentative rating: 3.5 stars

This is how he likes me best... when I am in need of rescue.

So the author wrote this in the cover reveal for Damsel, and I think it sums up the book quite nicely: Damsel is about waking up female in a man’s world. It’s about power, and abuses of power by powerful men. It’s about secrets. It's about pride, and anger, and action. I put my anger into this book, and I surprised myself with what my anger and I created.

RTC! 💖


I've seen a lot of mixed review
Erin Arkin
Review to come
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All the Books!: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold 1 3 Nov 01, 2018 01:06PM  

ELANA K. ARNOLD writes books for and about children and teens. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis where she has taught Creative Writing and Adolescent Literature. Her most recent YA novel, WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her middle grade novel, A BOY CALLED BAT, is a Junior Library Guild Selection
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