The Scapegracers

The Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Scapegracers (Scapegracers, #1)

This was a fantastic book. I really loved seeing the relationships the main character cultivated with her new group of friends. I had a few preconceived ideas of what might happen when I started reading and this book completely turned all of that on its head. It was refreshing to see this book play out so differently. I loved every character, each had such a dynamic and interesting personality that meshed so well with the rest of the group dynamic. I couldn’t put the book down and am extremely excited to find out what happens next.

Full Review with Spoilers

I went into this book with high expectations. A sapphic retelling of a classic fairytale is something I will always jump on. I was extremely happy to see that this book delivered and then some. The entire story is told from the perspective of Alyce, the traditional villain of Sleeping Beauty. The books acts as much like an origin story as much as it is a retelling.

Alyce is a fantastic character. She is told she is essentially evil and dark her whole life, that she is something other. It was heartbreaking to see how she deals with this her whole life and as much as she tries not to be that person, it definitely shaped who she is. She does what is essentially considered bad things because it is what is expected of her and what she is brought up to believe is the only thing she can do. Aurora is also a great main character. She is a princess and at first glance Alyce’s total opposite. The relationship that builds between them through the book is so well done. It was great to see them connect over their general dislike of everyone around them then it progress to Alyce trying to help her break the curse that will kill her when she turns 21. I loved seeing Alyce’s emotion progress and escalate even if she could quite see it for what it is.

There was a very interesting magic, social structure, and history developed in this book. I especially loved how the decline in ruling from a Queendom to a Kingdom where the queens have essentially given all their power to her husband over time really hinted at the same type of direction the story was going to take. The author did a great job placing these hints and connecting everything in a smooth flow that never felt like an information overload to the reader.

The storyline flowed so very well. There was a fantastic mix of emotional drama, angst and the sweeter buildup on the romance side. The romance was definitely not the focus of the story, though it was very much there. It really focus on Alyce’s build up to becoming a villain. And it was such a ride! Once Alyce crosses that line into actually killing people I have no idea what I should feel. Up to that point we get to see everything that has just been stacking against her and in a way we really see the justification for her actions. I ended the book completely blown away by the turn of events. We see Alyce exactly how we expect, guarding a sleeping princess against a kingdom that hates her.

Overall

This was a great retelling that gives the reader a new way of looking at a classic and very well known fairytale. Good story telling and great character development make this an extremely enjoyable read and one you won’t want to put down.

I really wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I started this book, but it’s definitely not what I got. I had a very vague idea of the general story, but that’s it. I loved every moment of this book. As I was reading I started assuming various things, thinking I knew where things where heading. The author does an amazing job of keeping the story fresh and interesting.

While the story is fun and engaging, what really drives this book is the characters. The group of girls that Sideways meets and befriends are all so well written, you can’t help but want to be friends with all of them, maybe a little scared of them too. Their fierce loyalty to each other, and Sideways after she becomes a part of their inner circle is inspiring. I kept expecting things to go south, that they would be just using her for her affinity with magic, but that never ended up happening. This was a welcome difference from the standard popular girl trope you would normally see in this situation. Even the “hot girl” that Sideways is smitten with was a great character even if she really was around briefly. I loved that Madeline is an ambiguous sort of “villain,” doing bad more or less for the sake of good. It’s hard to hate her, especially since we really don’t know her full story.

While I loved the character development and interactions, I wasn’t sure what they overall arc of the story was going to be until witch hunters catch up to Sideways. Perhaps a tad cliche, it was again well written enough that I didn’t mind this at all. Same with the fact that you learn each of the girls, dubbing their coven Scapegracers, all actually had some affinity for magic even if they had not be previously aware of it. This was handled well and still remained interesting. This is also attributed to the fact that the authors world and concept of magic is just different and unique enough that I never felt like I was reading something that felt familiar. (Of course I made the connection to a certain movie when I started reading. The fact that the author calls this out was a fantastic nod to the fact they they knew it would happen.)

Overall

I REALLY enjoyed this book. It was the right blend of fun and emotional. I am extremely anxious for the next book and see where the story goes from here.

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