Damsel
Damsel

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Annotation: Waking up in the arms of Prince Emory, Ama has no memory of him rescuing her from a dragon's lair; but she soon discovers there is more to the legend of dragons and damsels than anyone knows, and that she is still in great danger.
Catalog Number: #182067
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 309 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-274232-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-4403-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-274232-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-4403-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017057175
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Subject Heading:
Dragons. Fiction.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Arnold (Bat and the Waiting Game, 2018, etc.) blends an abusive romance-novel relationship and intense feminist and patriarchal imagery with the classic storyline of a prince saving a damsel from the lair of a dragon.In a gray, medieval world, Prince Emory of Harding makes his way toward a dragon's lair to rescue a damsel and make her his bride, in the process bringing light to the land and glory upon himself. The damsel cannot recall who she is, and so Emory names her Ama. They return to Harding, where Prince Emory is crowned king, and his mother announces they will be wed in a few months' time, and Ama will give birth to his heir. Ama must learn how to be a queen and is reminded repeatedly that Emory's desires are what matters—she is never allowed to forget that he "saved" her. When she does not comply with his wishes, she is brutally and sadistically punished, sexually, psychologically, and physically. What if, instead of being the hero's beloved, you are your abuser's captive? The symbolism and imagery, as well as the meaning of the sexual violence that is perpetrated upon Ama, may go over the heads of less sophisticated readers. All characters are white.While Arnold has written a compelling flipped fairy tale and commentary on misogyny, she's missed the mark for her intended audience. (Fiction. 15-adult)
Publishers Weekly
This subversion of fairy tale tropes begins with familiar elements: a prince rescues a damsel from a dragon to make her his bride and prove his worth to become king, as happens with every generation in the kingdom of Harding (-I saved you,- he repeats). But the damsel, whom he names Ama, has no memory of her past, her family, or her time with the dragon. And the more time she spends around her husband-to-be, learning the ways of his culture and her intended role, the more uncomfortable she becomes. King Emory is cold, strict, sometimes violent, swift to exert his authority, and eager to have sex with Ama-whether she is interested or not. As Ama struggles to unlock her memories and find her own destiny, she discovers the dark side of the kingdom-s traditions. With haunting prose and lush descriptions, Arnold (What Girls Are Made Of) weaves a terrifying tale that explores contemporary conversations about rape culture, misogyny, male entitlement, female agency, and the need for consent. The message is as timely as it is vital, but frank discussions of self-harm, physical and emotional abuse, and descriptions of sexual violence may not be appropriate for readers at the younger end of the stated range. Ages 14-up. Agency: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Oct.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 9 Up Somewhere in medieval Europe, deep in a gray land by the gray sea, at the top of a craggy tower, a prince conquers a dragon and rescues a damsel. He names the woman Ama and delivers her to his castle where he will be made king and they will be marriedfor in this land, no king can exist without his damsel. Ama remembers nothing about herself, the world, or her experiences from before her rescue except flashes of bright color and a luscious, soothing heat. Her prince, however, is happy to teach her how to be a woman, and soon Ama learns to carve away at herself to fit neatly into her prince's expectations. Art, exploration, and thinking are forbidden to her, and she is encouraged to take up as little space as possible. Inside, Ama rages and chafes against the physical and mental limitations imposed on her, and despite the warnings, Ama can't stop wondering about the mystery of the dragons and who she was before. Graphic violence, sexuality, and rape are present on the page, though carefully presented to create a crucial juxtaposition to the lyrical writing. The characters' roles, actions, and motivations are reflected through foils, revealing powerful symbolism and dramatic irony. All of this works to increase the tension, which comes to a dark but ultimately satisfying conclusion. VERDICT This incisively written allegory rips into a familiar story and sets it aflame. Highly recommended for high school libraries where literary feminist retellings are popular. Leighanne Law, Scriber Lake High School, WA
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Kirkus Reviews
Michael Printz Honor
Publishers Weekly
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12

A dark, twisted, unforgettable fairy tale from Elana K. Arnold, author of the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince 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, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale.

As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in.


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