Book Reviews, YA book reviews

Stain by A.G. Howard


My Rating ~ Four stars

4-gold-stars copy

RELEASED: 15 January 2019

Publisher: Amulet Books

Format: Hardback

Pages: 512


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.




I actually had a bit of a struggle with how to rate this one.  I was just so incredibly…..bored for at least the first third of the book.  I had read that it was a slow starter, and I’m glad I did because I was starting to wish I hadn’t picked it up.  But then….the last third was so amazing that I just couldn’t bare to give it a lower rating!  Granted, the slow start did lead to excellent world building and I felt like I was truly immersed in the world once it got going, but I just felt like I was waiting for the story to begin.

In Stain, the world has been torn in two – one kingdom resides in eternal daylight, the other in eternal night.  Lyra is the princess of the day kingdom, but has all the elements of the night dwellers and even the slightest exposure to sun burns her skin, causing her to stay hidden within the castle walls at all times.  Vesper is the prince of the night kingdom, but has all the physical attributes of a day dweller.  The lack of sun / darkness in each kingdom has caused people to fall ill and go mad, but there is a prophesy that could save them all – it is said a wedding of the day princess to the night prince could reunite the kingdoms again.  However, Lyra’s aunt is determined to find a way to insert her own family into the royal line and be rid of her niece forever.

The story is a fairly typical ‘fairytale trope’ in that an orphaned princess is outcast and betrayed by a family member and has to fight to reclaim her throne but Stain had some really fantastic elements and characters that kind of overrode the standard trope.  I adored the fiery, arrogant pegasus, Scorch and the fox/sylph Luce.  I was so enthralled with the story by the end that I was sad to say goodbye to almost all of the characters!

This was a fantastic gothic retelling and I’d recommend giving it a try – just be prepared to stick it out through the beginning to middle of the book until it really picks up!



Stain pic by  bookbookowl


Photo via my Instagram account – Bookbookowl


2 thoughts on “Stain by A.G. Howard”

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