The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) By S.L. Dove Cooper

REVIEW The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2)

Very rambling. Not the fairy tale story I was expecting - it is told entirely retrospectively and entirely in dialogue. The dialogue was a fun gimmick at first but grew weary when it was too realistically meandering and repeated sentiments. It was less a story about two aromatic and asexual characters and more about those two characters telling each other their own past in intricate detail and heavy handedly explaining to each other their already established sexuality and some previously unknown facts about each other. Some parts were moving and for a good while I was invested and interested. But around the 55% mark I kept catching myself thinking I was bored. I guess I expected a story of plot discovery rather than dictation and one that showed me their relationship rather than explained it as if I'd walked into a support meeting. Sadly disappointed. I'm sorry. The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) Not rating this because it's not that this story itself was in any way bad, I just... could not get past the framing device and the resultant writing style. It's just this weird situation where the story itself is pretty cute, but the framing device overshadows it for me. It's written as the two characters going back and forth, recalling and sharing their story. And it just... yeah, it doesn't work for me the way I think it was supposed to.

It's a cute fairy tale type story that plays with both existing stories and new ideas in an interesting way, at its core about two princesses (a princess and a queen, technically) dealing with society's views of and expectations for them and finding understanding in each other.

Also, the main characters are an aroace woman and a sex-repulsed ace lesbian who are in a queerplatonic relationship. (Yes, they use the words.) The world is somewhat queer-normative, with certain kingdoms/regions normalizing queer relationships and experiences and others displaying various forms of queerphobia (particularly arophobia). Their relationship is wonderfully negotiated and portrayed, not at all hindered by the one having romantic feelings for the other and the other not. The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) (Based on an Advance Review Copy [ARC] provided by the author)

I haven't given this a star rating because it would feel a little unfair; I didn't get along with the writing style, and probably wouldn't have read it if I had previewed it or noticed it described as being written in verse. (It's written as a two-way conversation with the two characters' words on opposite sides of the page, with non-standard line breaks, as opposed to rhyming verse or the like.) To an extent, I'm glad I did read it, because it was interesting to try something different, but I didn't really enjoy it, due to the aforementioned style and other issues I had with it, which I'll detail below.

However, on the positive side, the book is clearly written in a very heartfelt way, and it does do what it set out to do, exploring a traditional fairytale narrative not only with a female/female relationship but with characters who are asexual and/or aromantic. This was what attracted me to read it in the first place, and I thought it did explore the experience of being aromantic/asexual in a romance-obsessed world in a way which felt focused on and told through the characters rather than just being a thinly disguised tract. Unfortunately, I didn't think the theme and characters were meshed very well with the fairytale plot and setting. Problems included:

All in all, I felt this book was an experiment which sadly didn't work for me, despite obviously being quite personal to the author and exploring ideas well worth exploring in an honest way. I hope the author can continue to keep that authenticity and impassioned voice while improving some of the writing nuts and bolts in future works. The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) I did like this though the formatting was a little strange to get used to at the beginning. I was able to get used to it quickly though and I thought it was a very interesting way to tell the story, in verse and with only dialogue between the two main characters talking to each other.

Both Marian and Edel talk about their sexuality and romantic orientations and it was really nice to see their different experiences.

I got a little confused about how much time had passed between the start of the story and the events that the characters tell about in the book though I think that might just be me.

I was so glad to be reading about a queerplatonic relationship at all and then Marian and Edel's relationship was just so good and cute, I was very happy with it. The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) I loved this novella so much!

I was a little taken aback by the format. I knew it was in verse, but didn't expect the two main characters to talk to each other, often interrupting each other to complete the story. It took me a little while to get used to it, but once I got comfortable with the format, this became a very good read.

The two protagonist are a homoromantic asexual sex-repulsed princess (Marian) and a panplatonic aromantic asexual queen (Edel). Most of the words are used on-page, and this was also one of the particularities of the book. A fairytale retelling of King Thrushbeard, sapphic, with aro and ace leads. And the terms are used on-page, even if it's somewhat historical. At first it was weird and then I was like hell yeah why shouldn't we use the words and I think it's an important topic of the book, too. The author also always uses men, women and enbies (which is <3).

I related to both Marian and Edel, especially Edel, and I loved the two protagonists very, very much. There was some pretty sweet and domestic moments between the two women as they told the story of how they became partners.

But I guess that what got me the most was definitely the awesome rep. As an aroace reader, it's rare to read a book with an aroace lead and this felt really, really good.

Also, there are some queer minor characters, including a bi character and an aro/ace-spectrum character.

CW: acephobia, arophobia, sexual assault, brief allusion to self-harm and suicide, both of which never actually happen, spousal & parental death, PTSD, unsupportive parents.

I was given an eArc in exchange of an honest review.

PS: I think this is my first review in English, which isn't my first language, sorry for any potentital grammar mistake :DD The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2)


this didn't work for me personally, i think. it took me until somebody else mentioned it to realise it was indeed a novel in verse and not weird formatting or like this because they were messaging.
the idea that the two main characters were together and occasionally had off-screen interactions but were messaging/ making a chronicle of their adventure so it wouldn't be forgotten... that last part is a cool idea! it just. i don't know.

society is a strong
Entity to fight against

but it might work for other people! it has a queerplatonic relationship, which i'd never read about and was really hoping i'd get to see once, so that was great. Mariam is a sex-repulsed asexual lesbian princess, and Edel is an aroace queen.
i thought Mariam's voice was a tad too childish, but maybe that's my own unrealised bias? i also didn't like that she wanted to use aro and ace as dramatic reveal words, but that was addressed by Edel. anyway, i can't speak for any of the rep so this isn't the review you should be reading anyway.

i did very very much like that it had this quote: Sometimes people need // Other people to love them // In order to learn to love themselves
because i am most definitely sick and tired of hearing nobody will love you until you love yourself because it's both false and harmful and the above statement is very important and true.

cw for sexual assault, aro/acephobia The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) This is an unusual little tale, retelling one of the less familiar fairy tales – King Thrushbeard – using a queerplatonic, sapphic relationship between a sex-repulsed asexual lesbian princess and an aroace queen. Which is a lot of labels, because this story is as much about labels and getting them out there as it is about the fairy tale. So if you happen to fall into any of those groups and long to see yourself in a story, or you want to know more about them and just how they work with relationships, this book has a lot to offer you.

It is frequently very cute, with occasional flashes of anger, but the chosen format probably won’t appeal to everyone. It’s a verse novel, which I’ll admit made me wary at first, but it’s actually not too bad once you get used to it. It’s also told in an extended dialogue between Marian, the princess, and Edel, the queen, as they recap their lives and the events that lead to them making a life together. Although this does definitely up the cute factor, there were times when I wished for a different format because I wanted more. More detail, more emotion, more suspense as to how it all turns out. As it was, I could enjoy it, but I couldn’t ever quite lose myself inside it.

Which is a huge shame, because there’s a lot of good here. Not just the use of labels, which are presented with excellent arguments for and against using them, but the way the story unfolds, especially in the first three sections. The fourth I felt was slightly lacking in detail, and the whole subplot about Edel being cast as a witch didn’t really seem to go anywhere. But the twist on King Thrushbeard was very nicely done, and it was great to see how it all turned out afterwards.

Most of the time, I’ll admit, I didn’t like Marian very much. She was incredibly immature at times and a little too cutesy for me, except when talking about the Duke, then I just wanted to hug her. I liked Edel a lot more, but at the same time was baffled by her ability to simply walk away from the kingdom for so long. I know she was only Snow’s regent, but she still had major responsibilities. If I was Snow I wouldn’t be talking to her either after it all came out.

So it’s not perfect, and probably won’t work for everyone, but if fairy tale retellings are your thing, and you like the sound of a queerplatonic relationship between an asexual lesbian, fashion-loving princess and a practical, aroace queen, then give it a try. You may just learn something.

(ARC provided by the author.) The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Content Warnings: acephobia/acemisia, arophobia/aromisia (called out), sexual assault, PTSD, brief allusion to self-harm, unsupportive parents, parent/spouse death, illness

You might have seen my review of Sea Foam and Silence and this is the same phenomenal author with another novella in verse! But this novella was truly lovely. I adored the representation of Marian, a homoromantic asexual sex-repulsed princess and Edel a panplatonic aromantic asexual queen. Yet they have a relationship built on love, friendship, and support. This is sapphic re-telling of King Thrushbeard, and although I haven't read the original, I'm obsessed with this re-telling. Let's talk about how much I loved the inclusiveness and diversity in this novella.

full review: The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) CW: acephobia, arophobia, sexual assault, PTSD, brief allusion to self harm, spousal death, parental death, unsupportive parents.
Rep: lesbian asexual MC, aro ace MC.

This was really easy to read. Very fast, which is good. It felt like I was just being ‘told’ everything, which, given the way the story is laid out, that is exactly what was happening. It was only dialogue between Edel and Marian. But it was sweet, and I enjoyed it on the whole.

I talk about books at these places: Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / Blog The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2) This book has the most interesting format of any book I've read this year. The conceit is that the two MCs--Princess Marian and Queen Edel--are recording themselves telling the story of how they got together, using some unspecified magic device. So it's composed entirely of dialogue, and the dialogue itself is in verse format. It's nifty.

I really liked the idea. Some ways it worked especially well were
-It made it feel appropriate for Marian and Edel to occasionally go off on tangents that would have felt more awkward in normal, narrated prose. For example, both Marian and Edel discuss their asexuality and how others have reacted to it in great depth, even debating terms, whether terms are better than complex descriptors, etc. In a normal novel I think this might annoy me because such discussions often don't flow very well and feel like awkward inserts. But in this novel it works very well bc it basically feels like you're sitting in on a long, sometimes reminiscent, sometimes philosophical conversation.
-You get a really good idea of Marian and Edel's personalities. Edel tends to be more reserved, both in her actions throughout the story and in the way she speaks. Marian, meanwhile, is less controlled, which certainly comes through in her narration--she's usually the one to initiate tangents, and she sometimes draaaaaws out words like thiiiiiis. Lols.
-Going off that, you get a great idea of how Marian and Edel get along because of how they banter, their small disagreements, their endearments, just the way they relate to each other. It's like...even though they're telling the story of their relationship, you know from the beginning that their relationship is strong because of how they talk to each other.

Yeah. It's a format that really works for this story. I do have two quibbles with it, though. For one, the free verse sometimes doesn't feel too different from prose, just with more line breaks--it would be nice to see a little more structure built into the verse format. I don't know if that would work with the dialogue, though, dialogue and verse being tricky to mesh in general. The other thing is that since the story is told as the musings of the two MCs after the fact they skip right over sections that I would have liked in more detail--like the MCs' early married life, for example, or --because the MCs already know what happened and are fine with just summarizing.

Anyway. Apart from the format.
The actual story is about how Edel, a widowed queen, marries Marian in the guise of a beggar. It's a retelling of the King Thrushbeard fairy tale, which I know and love but which is quite problematic, probably the reason O'Connacht takes such gusto in messing with it. It really is a story that lends itself well to a queer, especially ace, main character, because the crux of it is that the MC (Marian in this case) insults people who want to marry her and rejects them. In this retelling the reason for that is that she simply doesn't want to get married, largely because she's sex-repulsed. She's still a little impulsive and spoiled, but with that explanation a lot of the characterization falls into place.

Some content warnings:

I would recommend this book. But I would say that you might preview it on Amazon or wherever to see if you like the form first, because if you don't find it readable or you don't like verse novels, it would be kind of a tricky read.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2)

All Marian wants is for society to accept that she's just not interested in... whatever society thinks she ought to be interested in. A princess with a reputation for insults and snide remarks, she's afraid to show anyone who she would be if people would let her. In a fit of temper at her refusal to marry, her father creates her worst nightmare: she is to be wed to the first beggar who arrives at the gates.

Edel was visiting purely for diplomatic reasons, aiming to ensure her daughter inherits a strong and peaceful kingdom. She sees something in Marian that is achingly familiar and when Edel hears the king's proclamation, only one thing is on her mind: to protect Marian from the fate that had befallen Edel herself.

Their lives threaded together by magic, Edel and Marian will have to find their way in the world in this queerplatonic, sapphic verse novel retelling of King Thrushbeard. The Ice Princesss Fair Illusion (Fairytale Verses, #2)