Author: A.G. Howard
Publication: January 15th 2019 by Abrams/Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
A high-fantasy gothic fairytale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea.
Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…
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 rediscovers her identity, an impostor 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.
Like the synopsis says, Stain is inspired by the fairytale of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea, which just happens to be one of my all time favorite classic fairytales. I must’ve read it more than a hundred times as a child. And Stain did just read like a magical fairytale. This was one of my favorite things about the story. The writing was beautifully lyrical and just took my breath away at times. I also thought it had some Sleeping Beauty vibes. Another one of my favorite fairytales.
Something else what stood out to me was the world building and complexity of the curse and magic. I love magic, curses and a well-built world in high-fantasy books and the way the author wrote all of this was also excellent. I literally have nothing negative to say. I always say no book can be perfect but Stain was very close to it.
The next thing that I loved with this story were the characters. Most book have either great characters or great writing. At least the ones I’ve read recently and especially in this genre. I could probably go on about the characters because there were so many that I adored. Princess Lyra and Prince Vesper (swoon swoon!) were fantastic main characters. I was getting pretty nervous about them actually ending up together because due to certain events they hadn’t actually met yet (I hope this isn’t a spoiler) through most of the book but I really enjoyed reading about them both. I also, in a weird way, enjoyed reading about Lyra’s evil aunt because she was well-written and so very wicked. Crony, Luce and Scorch were very dear to me as well and I just know they’re gonna be other readers’ favorites too. You just can’t help but like them. I feel like I’ve been going on about the character so I’ll just stop here.
If I had to describe Stain I would say it was in one word: STUNNING. I’ve loved all of A.G. Howard’s previous books, especially the Splintered series but I’ve got to say I think this is her best work so far, in my opinion. It was just such a wonderful story to read. I loved it so much.