Damsel

Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden
Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
4 out of 5 stars (67 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A 2019 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book

"Listeners will fall under the spell of the prose and narration and won't wake up until the last word is spoken - and maybe not even then. Highly recommended." (Erin Entrada Kelly, 2018 Newbery Medalist and New York Times best-selling author)

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.

©2018 Elana K. Arnold (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers
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    1 out of 5 stars

I should've skipped this one...

I was so excited to listen to this one. A feminist tale involving a princess and a dragon? That's right up my alley... unfortunately this bypassed all expectations from the get go... The best word I can use to describe it is unpleasant. And that's being nice. I had thought originally that it was intended for a YA audience... I'd feel insanely uncomfortable giving this one to a teen. As a bookseller I would never sell this to a teen in a million years. Between the millions of sexual references, to the abundant abuse (sexual, verbal, gaslighting), to the beastiality... and the particularly graphic descriptions of skinning a rabbit, sewing a bird's eyes shut... I'm getting queasy again thinking about it. I did make it to the end, simply because I had to know what redeeming thing the author was going to do to make up for it all, and while she does finally free Ama from the horribleness of the world, it didn't make up for the rest. The story was not intruiging enough to hold the weight of what it was trying to do. Personally, if I could go back and do it again, I'd totally skip this one.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Em
  • 01-27-19

Meh

Interesting premise, but not cleverly executed.

There’s a fair amount of build up, but all character and story revelations are squeezed into the last few chapters.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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How I love this story!

Marvelously written, I was emotionally riveted to the very end.
My new favorite book.
Thank you, Elana!

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Woah?

In order to become king, every prince from the Kingdom of Harding must slay a dragon and save a damsel—which is exactly what Emory has done with Ama, the new damsel. Ama does not remember what happened to her before she was “saved” by Emory, and has no choice but to believe in what he and other citizens of Harding tell her. By the end of the novel, Ama is able to see past the lies and abuse and reclaim who she was truly meant to be.

Elizabeth Knowelden does a wonderful performance of letting the listener get drawn into the poetic and beautiful prose of the novel, sometimes to its detriment, as listeners may be lulled into a light doze.

I appreciated the poetic prose throughout the narrative and how it clashed with the malignant nature of Emory and his kingdom. Honestly, the ending of the novel was my favorite section. Unfortunately, Ama’s accomplishment wasn’t enough to excuse every other character’s terrible behavior. The metaphors for sex and sexual organs were overdone. The animal abuse was painful, and I believe unwarranted, even for a metaphor. Ama still must act the part of a Damsel to survive and still ends up needing Emory to survive. If it weren’t for her true origins, would she have been stuck where she was at, pretending to be one thing she was not all her life. I would have liked it if Ama had grown more or had done more to break free. The message of the novel was palpable, but the characters didn’t drive the point home. I would instead recommend Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest, which is able to explore the concept of sexual abuse and female empowerment with far better grace and with a more satisfying conclusion.

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I wanted to punch every character in the face

Dont read this book, you will just be pissed off because all the characters are infuriating and the plot just does not make up for that

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    4 out of 5 stars
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I thought it was great but disturbing

I really liked the book but it was also quite disterbing. I very much enjoyed the feminest charicters .

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Unique original fairytale! Nicely done!

When I started this book I thought it was just going to be a typical fantasy/fairytale type book but there was a lot more to it. Once I got a few chapters in I said to myself hmmm how many people are going to bitch and complain about this book because of all the sexual references and other triggers since it’s supposed to be marketed to a YA audience. If I had an inch for every time Emory’s yard was mentioned I’d have enough to make a yard stick. Ok that was taking it too far. What those special snowflakes, who now need warnings about everything from book triggers to comedians’ stand up content to the type of milk they drink, didn’t mention was that this book made a lot of good points. (Actually a few of them did mention it but not many) Nothing was crudely done. Anything repugnant was there for a purpose or to convey a message. The story itself was well imagined. As I said it was not what I was expecting. Honestly I kept thinking Ama would wake up and become one of the usual headstrong heroines who turns the court upside down. That wasn’t the case though. There was more of a slow burn to her. The names she gave her lynx were very telling. The narrator for this audiobook was perfect. Her voice suited Ama’s character, the story and the atmosphere of it all so well. I was taken aback by how different this book was from what I had originally thought. In the end I was awestruck by the overall beauty of it and the statement it made. 4.5 stars rounded up.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Short

The author did an amazing job with descriptive details and really painted an amazing picture for the reader.

The performance kept me entertained throughout the entire story and her voice and natural accent fed into the story line more and more with every sentence.

The only downside is that I felt the story became rushed towards the end and lost the descriptive qualities and capturing nature. It wasn't until the last few paragraphs where the descriptiveness picked up again.

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  • Harriet Day
  • 12-27-18

Painfully over-acted and predictable

I’m so sorry, because I want to give more good reviews to female authors and novels with powerful female leads, but this was too heavy-handed in its “All men are pigs and here is why” storytelling and the narrator also lacked all subtlety in her reading: everything was far too breathy and over the top.
Some interesting ideas, though!

1 person found this helpful