There are many book-to-film adaptations, but we see film-to-book adaptations less often. Damsel by Evelyn Skye is one such book, though it is coming out well before the film.
Elodie grew up in a drought-ridden land and the daughter of a Duke. She never imagined a life away from her beloved Inophe until she receives a marriage proposal from Prince Henry, heir to the bountiful kingdom of Aurea. She would do anything to save her people and so she agrees to marry. After being whisked away to Aurea, doubt starts to fester in her mind. She finds out too late that the Aurean Royal Family has an ancient arrangement - one that sacrifices their princesses to the dragon that gives their land the prosperity they have been used to for centuries. But the women who came before Elodie didn’t go quietly - and neither will she.
I love when a story takes a well-known trope and flips it on its head, especially when it’s the damsel in distress trope. This story does exactly that and does it well. The women in this story present as soft and fragile on the outside, but they have a deep strength within them that fed my soul.
The primary POV of the story is Elodie, but there are a couple chapters from the POV of various other characters. I felt like this gave each of the characters a little more depth and it also helped to unfold the story further. No one in this story is strictly good or evil and it gives you the opportunity to really think about the shades of grey that the world is painted in.
I don’t have many bad things to say about this book. The world-building is as beautiful as Evelyn’s work usually is and the characters are complex. The story may not feel super unique, but it does still feel free in a way that made sure I wasn’t bored while reading - I often found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. The ending did leave me feeling a tiny bit unsatisfied, but I can understand why it ended the way it did - it is still a satisfying ending, it is just that the petty side of me wanted a bit more.
Knowing that this was originally a story written for the screen and then adapted to print provided a unique reading experience. The characters were already cast so I didn’t have to create an image in my mind. It also leads to questions of how similar the stories are - is the novel a direct reenactment of the film or are there marked differences? I can’t wait for everyone to find out!
Also, Evelyn created a whole new language just for this book! And not just like...little sentences here and there. There are four appendixes at the end of the book that explain phonology and pronunciation, grammar and syntax, and abridged dictionaries. If that isn't commitment to a story, I don't know what is.
Damsel by Evelyn Skye hits shelves April 18, 2023 and you can preorder your copy here. Don’t forget to also tune in to watch the film on Netflix when it releases October 13, 2023!
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well!