Okay. So hello. Wow. This has been a while. I know. I know. What is even happening. Book reviews? Turns out I had a lot just in my write up folders. That means I have stuff to give you. I figured, I might as well start now. Please forgive me as I get back into the swing of these. It is going to take me a minute to do so, as I have to get used to writing a lot again for these. I didn’t complete this one, before. So I will have to do that now.
The synopsis for this might be the longest synopsis I have written. I won’t lie. It is intimidating compared to what I say for likes and thoughts on it all. Basically. I wrote a long synopsis to give myself a clear picture of what to write later, and I’m too lazy to do that now. Just know I LOVED this book. I loved it. God I love this book. Yeah. That’s the whole review.
I loved this.
But if you want more, I guess you can keep going.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Stain by A.G. Howard
Synopsis From The Book
After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest . . . disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight—for she is his true equal. As Lyra finds her way back to her identity, an imposter princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.
Fantasy | YA – PW |Familia Murder, Abuse, Loss of Memories, General Gore and Horror | Love, Friendship, Twisting Fairytale Tropes.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
The time has come for me to buckle down and finally read this book.Considering that this wonderful author wrote one of my favorite book characters of all time (hands down the end. I love him) I think the hype for this book started to eat at me. It is for that reason I was unable to push forward with reading this one.
Now I don’t care. I have this drive in me that I felt once before this year and I need to feed it. I need to devour every book in my path before it dies like it did last time. And I need to pick my books more carefully than I did last time to assure that the feeling doesn’t die.
I know this book will feed the feeling. I know it. Thus. The hype is back. What a cycle. What a terrible, terrible cycle. Onward!
Update: Okay, so I just read the prologue and… A.G. Howard’s writing got so much better. This is not to say that her debut was bad. No. She got so much better and it had my skin shivering. Oh my. I’m not ready for this. I’m really not.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
I will not lie, my synopsis for this book will not come close to the lyrical nature of this book, not close at all. This book is so descriptive, that I cannot begin to explain how it took my heart and snapped it to pieces at the first line. It’s so pretty. I will do my best regardless.
The Morpheus short: Cut my heart out and hope I die, I love this character so much. Oh my god. I can’t explain how giddy I got, except the fact that whatever I felt while reading the book was magnified 10000%. Pretty sure this is obsession, but I don’t really care. He’s perfection.
Lyra’s mother died when Lyra was born. Her mother pricked her finger on a purple rose and when Lyra was born, she died. Lyra was born with translucent skin, white hair, and eyes like opals. She is the embodiment of moonlight and it is impossible for her to be out in the sun. Unfortunately she was born in the country that only ever has daylight.
Her father cares and cherishes her, but wants her to live her best life so he makes a blood pact with the queen of the country where it is only ever night, to engage their children. He had uprooted all the purple roses and he went to talk to the queen but died. Crony and Luce, an immortal witch and a wingless sylph, discover that the king was murdered by his own people.
The King’s sister killed her brother. When she was a little girl, she loved a night and tried to lure him to the forest but was caught by other witches. Luce saved her, but she got his wings from him. The King’s sister, Griselda, abuses Lyra and when she finds out that Lyra can not be easily killed she makes one of her daughters into a replacement for Lyra and does so anyway.
Meanwhile in the kingdom of the night, Vesper, the prince of night was born like those who live in the day. He can not see at night and is not harmed by sunlight. He swallows sunlight whole and it consumes him. In order to save him a witch has to take his rage and rebellion from him. One day he will have to face it again to be whole, but for now — until he meets Lyra — he will be able to survive.
Lyra’s body, murdered by her aunt, is found by Crony and Luce. Crony gives up her immortality to bring Lyra back to life. Lyra awaken with no memories and tries to save a pegasus. She almost dies again.
Five years pass from when Vesper lost part of himself and Lyra lost her memories. Both are scarred and broken in a way. Lyra masquerades as a boy and Vesper has acted as king for the last three years. Lyra and Scorch are inseparable and will protect each other at all times. The day of the wedding approaches and Griselda’s plot continues. Her daughter has acted as Lyra all this time and no one has noticed that she is a replacement.
Vesper travels to the forest and sees how his world is falling apart. Lyra goes to get moths for Luce and Crony. Vesper and Scorch get in a fight with the desire to conqueror each other. Lyra gets between it and discovers that Crony has kept her memory from her this whole time. Sealed in a box being shipped to the Nezereth witch, Lyra’s memories are no longer with Crony. Lyra runs away and is almost consumed again by the creatures that almost killed her and Griselda. Scorch saves her. They go to hunt a prince.
Crony tells her story to Luce of how she knows the other witch and the fracturing of the day and night. She is captured and sent to the castle.
Lyra and Scorch find the prince and attack him. Vesper and Lyra talk and find something in each other that makes their whole being explode in being complete. Vesper bests Scorch and Lyra accuses him of murder. Vesper realizes that Scorch was what was taken from him years ago and that he was Scorch the whole time. Despondent, Lyra is uncertain of what to do. She still doesn’t know who she is but the prince knows who she is. Stain runs away
As Stain is running away she ignores Vesper’s pleas for her to come back. Because she runs, Vesper begins to die as the sun overwhelms him. He is put under a sleep spell that will only be broken when Stain saves him. Stain finds Luce and he tells her about Crony. Crony, who is in jail, speaks with Griselda who orders her dead. Griselda and her daughters then leave to get to Vesper who is dying. Luce and Stain arrive to find Crony stopping her own death and Stain finds out that she is Lyra. She is not given back her memories, however.
Stain has an existential crisis before realizing she has to save Vesper. Luce goes with Crony to get his wings back but when Crony is almost killed he saves her instead of racing for his wings that are locked in a tree that is on fire. Crony gets his wings back because he did a truly selfless sacrifice. Crony dies and Lyra and Luce get to Vesper. Luce distracts everyone as Lyra sucks the poison sun from Vesper. She then flees into Nerezeth to spread the sunlight and get it out of her body.
Vesper awakens to Lyra’s voice in the body of Lustacia. The world is convinced that she woke Vesper but after kissing her Vesper knows she did not. He refutes her and demands to find Lyra. Luce finds Vesper and tells him everything and they get to Lyra. Lyra and Vesper waltz after she awakens from her splurge of the sun magic. Using her metal hair and gem tears she gets her true hair and tears back. She goes back to Vesper’s castle riding the back of a stag. Griselda tries to put more doubt on the newly found Lyra and Vesper proposes a test.
Lyra and Lustacia are faced with a room of spikes and when Lustacia sees Lyra she admits to everything. Lyra captures her voice again in a shell and everyone reveals themselves. They had been in the room next door listening to the confession. Lyra and Vesper are married and crowned and Lyra gets her memories back. The trial happens. Griselda’s daughters are turned into another species as Griselda is banished. Griselda tries to kill Lyra, but her eyelashes save them all. She then tells Griselda that her name will be erased from history. Luce arrives before Griselda and gives her back to the witches of the woods, who give her back her remorse. Dyadia and Crony make up.
It is revealed that the prophecy would never bring the worlds together. They needed love to end the hate, but Crony’s magic would do the rest. Crony brings the worlds together once more when Lyra and Vesper kiss. Days later, Vesper and Lyra have been working on all sorts of politics for the kingdoms coming together, when they can finally be together as husband and wife.
Luce and Dyadia tell Lyra and Vesper that Crony is gone, and like all fairy tales. The ending is not certain but “they shared a hopeful ever after.”
What I Liked:
Lyra/Stain: My princess of thorns! I love you so much. I loved the fact that she could not speak. I loved every part of her character and how she had to grow and change. She was a bit naive, but look she’s a princess in which many of the traditional fairytale tropes affect. She was doing her best. I loved her.
Vesper: I also loved him, my charge first think later boy. I wasn’t sure if I was going to, but I did as the story went on. He’s cruel and terrible and beautiful and kind all at once. Love him.
Other Characters: Pretty much I loved or hated them all because of how they were written. I can’t say I liked one over another, but also I really loved the witches. I’m not biased tho. I’m not.
Fairytale Tropes: I was checking off a box in my head the entire time while reading this. Yup that’s little mermaid. Yup that’s sleeping beauty. It is pretty much most of them, twisted and filtered through each other to make a complex situation. I loved it. I know this might not be for everyone, but I liked this aspect. I like reading retellings that know they are retellings and this book knew what it was.
Writing Style: Look I knew I loved A.G. Howard’s writing style. I’ve always know that. I knew that. I will always know that. It’s beautiful. It hurts me. It makes me swoon. THIS THO? It was what I knew from her writing style but on steroids. Goodness. I don’t think I was that giddy for a book in a LONG while. Like this book physically hurt me to continue reading. It made my heart sing and soar and I really can’t explain much more about that. But I think A.G. Howard has a way for dialogue that just. Yes. I love it. It might not be for everyone but it is for me. So yeah.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
None of it!
“Roses need thorns, just as thorns need roses.” – pg 7
“Some people harbor so much thorns inside, it strangles out all the beauty.” – pg 370
“The illusion of tangible things. A braid of hair, a vial of tears, a snippet of song. And words on a page. But ink blurs and paper frays. Vials break. Hair thins and brittles. Songs fade once the final note rings. The only thing that lasts is trust and understanding, speaking without words spoken. Your songbird voice is to be just that. A song without words. No more, no less.” – pg 406
“The best canvas has flaws and furrows… and tells a story of its own before the paint is even added.” – pg 442