Book #23: Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

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 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.

Oh. My. God.

Seriously, this book is a literary theorist’s wet dream. A theorist in the school of feminist theory’s wet dream. No joke.

For anyone who instantly thinks Young Adult is a good category for this book, you are sadly mistaken. This book deals with hard issues that teens should know about but I feel the way the book is written is too advanced for a younger teen. Older teens would understand the language better.

The book is written with an introspective narrative style. Which is very similar to the short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (another favorite of mine). You are seeing the abuse and control through the eyes of the victim and you aren’t given a very strong victim at first. I could go into it more and I am thinking I actually will in my own literary essay of Damsel. But, suffice to say, this book is more about the cycle of abuse and how you could easily be taken in.

You will dislike the characters and what they stand for. You will be wondering why this book was ever made. You will probably toss it to the side if there is nothing moving towards something.

But then you will be giving up to the abuser.

That’s right. I said it. By setting aside this book (and I am a big supporter of DNF-ing), you are pushing aside the uncomfortable feelings the book gives you without finishing and seeing that this book is more about inspiring people to talk, to listen, and support. DO NOT STOP READING THIS BOOK. FINISH IT.

I can’t even begin to describe everything about this book. Arnold purposely uses the color scheme, the animals, the way the characters are. Everything has a meaning, a symbol, a reason for being in this book. This is not a story that was made to entertain. This is an onion with many layers and each layer is shown piece by piece.

I’ve made a decision. I will be writing an essay about this book. And, Elana K. Arnold, if you are reading this, I am in awe at the intricate crafting of this piece of art. This is art.

Final Rating: 5/5

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