Stain
A high-fantasy gothic fairytale inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea.Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins...After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest ... disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra's rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

Stain Details

TitleStain
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 15th, 2019
PublisherAbrams/Amulet Books
ISBN-139781419731419
Rating
GenreFantasy, Retellings, Young Adult

Stain Review

  • A.G. Howard
    January 1, 1970
    So excited to finally post this title! Two things to know about this book: There's no love triangle, and it's a standalone.Here's a little insight into the story: Stain, my anti-princess, lives in an alternative medieval world where the moon has been torn from the sky and banished to a wintry night kingdom deep beneath the earth, leaving the sun and kinder seasons to the day kingdom above ground. This has made for an intricately built fantasy world and magic system, requiring more work than any So excited to finally post this title! Two things to know about this book: There's no love triangle, and it's a standalone.Here's a little insight into the story: Stain, my anti-princess, lives in an alternative medieval world where the moon has been torn from the sky and banished to a wintry night kingdom deep beneath the earth, leaving the sun and kinder seasons to the day kingdom above ground. This has made for an intricately built fantasy world and magic system, requiring more work than any book I've ever written (and a longer deadline). But I'm having SO MUCH FUN with it!I know 2019 seems far away. I'll make it worth the wait, and of course we'll have reveals and giveaways to pass the time. ;)Update: 10-2-17: A glimpse (from my secret pinterest board) at some magical characters and creatures—both beautiful and beastly—you will find upon the pages of Stain's story: Update: 10-17-17Today I'm offering another insider's peek into the book! Here's the fairytale playlist that's keeping me company while I write. It's not the official book playlist, but it shares several of the songs: https://open.spotify.com/user/1248785...Update: 12-5-2017I'm only chapters away from finishing this book! Wow, it's been a doozy to write; I really challenged myself with this one. Aside from the elaborate world-building, there are four distinctive POV characters I got to know along the way. I can't say that I've fallen in love with them all (there's one in particular who is VERY hard to love), but I understand each one's motivations, and am endlessly fascinated by their interactions throughout the story.Here's a peek at their faces from my secret pinterest board:Clockwise, we have the prince, the princess, the harrower witch, and the royal aunt. Not going to say who's good or bad. Maybe they all have shades of gray? *bats lashes* You'll have to read the story to see...Update: 1-30-2018Anyone who follows me here knows I never rate my own books. But this story challenged and grew me so much, I made an exception. I'm giving it 5 stars for everything it taught me as a writer and a person. :)Update: 4-17-18Working hard on Stain revisions! Wanted to come up for air to share a quote from the beginning (a few words here and there are subject to change during line edits, but this is the gist of it!):Update: 6-2-18Check out the gorgeous Stain poster my publisher is giving out at NYC 2018 BookCon! Seven more months to go before my gothic fairy tale hits shelves! I just finished copy edits, so Stain is that much closer to being a real book. Can't wait to hold this one in my hot little hands. ;)Update: 7-14-18Here's a look at Stain's galley, the production phase of a book where the word doc manuscript is being formatted to take on its final form. I wanted to share a glimpse of the interior artwork, in answer to the question, "What color will Stain's ink be?" My phone's flash gave the image a sepia tone, but my publisher actually chose a black/white/grayscale antiquated interior to represent the fairy tale / medieval theme—a starkly beautiful effect that also honors the book’s unpolished and flawed Gothic princess. I’m hoping fellow lovers of dark fairy tales will adore this book aesthetic as much as I do! 🐲🦄👑🖤 Update: 8-28-18The prologue + gritty gothic fairy tale interior of Stain, as showcased in the limited-edition sampler.
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  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    I just about can’t stand any more beautiful book covers!This book was magical!!! (Photo courtesy to creators on the photo) Once upon a nightmare, a princess was born in the kingdom of perpetual daylight-a fine-boned babe who killed her queenly mother upon her entrance to the world Not everything is as it seems in this world. God, how I loved it. Lyra is different from all. Vesper is different from all. They must come together to bring their worlds together. Sound familiar? It’s not like that for I just about can’t stand any more beautiful book covers!This book was magical!!! (Photo courtesy to creators on the photo) Once upon a nightmare, a princess was born in the kingdom of perpetual daylight-a fine-boned babe who killed her queenly mother upon her entrance to the world Not everything is as it seems in this world. God, how I loved it. Lyra is different from all. Vesper is different from all. They must come together to bring their worlds together. Sound familiar? It’s not like that for they both have blessings and curses in this strange land Lyra can draw anyone to her with her voice and she is beautiful but scary to those if they don’t hear her voice. She is moon touched. She is so much more. She can bring the shadows and all the crawly things to her. I won’t say anything more though. Lyra is supposed to marry Vesper so they can unite the world and become Queen and King But alas, things go wrong. Lyra must find her way with many different friends. There is a most happy ending. I think one of the best endings I, Me, Not You, have ever read!! Vesper has his own powers and hardships. Oh how I loved these characters and this magically, weird world. He tipped his head back and poured the essence of daylight and flowers into his mouth, gulping it down until his body went to flame and his mind went to ash. Enjoy! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾MY BLOGAMAZON REVIEWLook how beautiful it is in person! ♥
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  • ʙᴇʟʟᴀ.: ☾**:.☆*.:。.
    January 1, 1970
    "Once upon a nightmare, a princess was born in the kingdom of perpetual daylight..." Stain was one of my most anticipated books: soon as it was available to pre-order I did not hesitate. I was lucky enough that my pre-order came earlier than expected and I'm so glad. Unlike the majority of fans of the author, I did not know the author for Splintered. I was first introduced to her beautiful gothic romance/new adult novel The Architect of Song. I became a fan because it is very hard to find gothi "Once upon a nightmare, a princess was born in the kingdom of perpetual daylight..." Stain was one of my most anticipated books: soon as it was available to pre-order I did not hesitate. I was lucky enough that my pre-order came earlier than expected and I'm so glad. Unlike the majority of fans of the author, I did not know the author for Splintered. I was first introduced to her beautiful gothic romance/new adult novel The Architect of Song. I became a fan because it is very hard to find gothic romances in the new adult category.As a major fan of Fairytales, I waited anxiously to read Stain. Surely the Princess and the Pea was never a favorite of mine, but Stain is also reminiscent of other tales: there are some similarities with Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast and perhaps even a little bit of Rapunzel. The influence of certain movies like Labyrinth and Howl's moving castle is also present there. The author delivers us a beautiful retelling, told in whimsical prose much very like an old fairy tale. The first 150 pages are slow, and they work to introduce us to the wonderful world that A.G. Howard built: the magic system, the kingdoms, and characters. After that, the story resumes a good pace and the second half of the book is utterly captivating.Stain tells us the story of Nerezeth (Night Kingdom) and Eldoria (Day Kingdom). Lyra is the princess of Eldoria and yet she possesses all features of the night folk and Vesper is the prince of Nerezeth and possesses all features of the day folk. There is a curse ongoing like every fairy tale has and our heroine is the key to its end. However, she goes through many trials until the end. Supporting characters include evil aunt and cousins, a pegasus, a sylph, a witch and more.Vesper is my new book boyfriend:) Of all characters I was fond of all and I would not mind a spin-off or companion novel to this because 500 pages were not enough. I loved the message that it portrays: that we should be proud of our scars and that sometimes family comes in a different way we expected, that inner beauty is really important and that we should not be let ourselves be swayed by prejudice.In resume, I loved Stain. I loved it so much that after reading the Hardback I just decided I'd pre-order the ebook too so I can re-read it. Because folks, the hardback edition is so precious with a lovely dust jacket cover and inner cover and thorny designs inside at the beginning of each chapter that made me swoon (and a map!), that now I'll go put it in a safe place in my shelves XDSo, if you enjoy slightly dark (and unexpectedly sweet) fairy tale retellings narrated in a "classic" way and you did not yet add this to your TBR shelf, please do. It's lovely, it's lyrical and I'll be anxiously awaiting for more gothic fantasies like this.
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  • Mads
    January 1, 1970
    To do review!!!
  • Jennie Damron
    January 1, 1970
    A modern fairytale that is what this beautiful book is. OMG! I loved this book from the beautiful cover to the words inside. It does start off slow, but if you keep with it you will be richly rewarded. A.G Howard said she was inspired by the Princess and the Pea. Believe me when I say this book is it's own story with different characters and beautiful world building. To me it was a completely different tale. Lyra is a wonderful girl who you are allowed to see develop and grow to an amazing young A modern fairytale that is what this beautiful book is. OMG! I loved this book from the beautiful cover to the words inside. It does start off slow, but if you keep with it you will be richly rewarded. A.G Howard said she was inspired by the Princess and the Pea. Believe me when I say this book is it's own story with different characters and beautiful world building. To me it was a completely different tale. Lyra is a wonderful girl who you are allowed to see develop and grow to an amazing young woman. Vesper is a hot headed boy who see grow to maturity and use his hotheadedness in most satisfying ways. I loved this book. I know I will read this book again and most likely love it even more.
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  • Candace Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    The cover is so lovely!!!!!This one sounds right up my alley! Can’t wait!
  • Jennymort ♔ Dark Lordette
    January 1, 1970
    this sounds dark as hell. i want it.
  • Tracy (Cornerfolds)
    January 1, 1970
    Read more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!It's no secret around my blog that A.G. Howard is one of my absolute favorite authors. I fell in love with the Splintered series in 2014 and have loved everything she has written since. I also adore fairytale retellings! When I heard about Stain, I knew there was a good chance it would be one of my top reads of 2019, and I'm pretty sure I was right.This haunting story is about Lyra, princess of the kingdom of daylight, and Vesper, prince of the kingdom Read more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!It's no secret around my blog that A.G. Howard is one of my absolute favorite authors. I fell in love with the Splintered series in 2014 and have loved everything she has written since. I also adore fairytale retellings! When I heard about Stain, I knew there was a good chance it would be one of my top reads of 2019, and I'm pretty sure I was right.This haunting story is about Lyra, princess of the kingdom of daylight, and Vesper, prince of the kingdom of night. Each is a misfit in their own land, but are promised to each other in order to bring peace between the kingdoms. Lyra cannot speak, but has the voice of a songbird, and cannot go in the sun without being burned, while Vesper has daylight in his blood. After Lyra's father dies, her aunt schemes to take back the throne and casts Lyra into the Ashen Ravine, the place between the day and night kingdoms, where she's raised with no memory of her true identity.I loved Lyra so incredibly much! Contrary to what you might think, Lyra is not a character who would feel a pea beneath a pile of mattresses. She is strong and scarred and powerful. This book begins with Lyra's childhood and I loved every minute spent with her, watching her grow into a strong woman willing to do anything to protect those she loved. Then there's Vesper, the handsome, mysterious, swoon-worthy prince of night and Lyra's betrothed. Their romance is extremely slow burn, but oh so worth it in the end! It easily could have fallen into instalove territory, but A.G. Howard did an incredible job of making it work without that terrible trope.Of course there was a whole host of other fantastic characters. Two of these are Crony and Luce, a witch and wingless, shape-shifting sylph who raised Lyra for most of her childhood in the Ashen Ravine. I enjoyed them both, especially Luce, who had such an interesting backstory and a sly, snarky personality. But my favorite was Scorch, a fiery Pegasus and Lyra's unlikely friend in the Ashen Ravine! Their friendship was possibly one of my all-time favorites. The villainous evil queen and her daughters were delightfully evil - the exact kind that you cannot wait to see meet their demise!While I absolutely fell in love with the characters, my favorite part of Stain was the world building. This book is long and I can definitely understand why after encountering such an intricate, well-written world. The mythology was thoroughly fleshed out and made everything feel that much more real. I felt like I could picture it all in my head! There were so many different creatures and magical details that all came together in a way that really worked. The kingdom of night was definitely my favorite. I would love to see some fanart of that stunning land of night and ice and thorns.A.G. Howard really did an incredible job at creating a beautiful, gothic retelling that's an entirely new take on a classic. The writing was lush and felt like a fairytale. There were twists that I never saw coming and, although the beginning is a bit slow while detailing Lyra's childhood, I never became bored. And, like any good fantasy book, this one has a wonderful, detailed map that I'd love to have as a poster!Stain was everything I was hoping it would be and more! The world and characters were incredible, and very quickly fell in love with the beautiful writing. Although this book does have a nicely wrapped up ending, I would definitely love to see more stories written in this fantasy world! If you're a fan of retellings or YA fantasy in general, you don't want to miss this book!
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  • Darque Dreamer
    January 1, 1970
    Stain is hauntingly enchanting. It’s an epic tale with a perfect blend of whimsy, darkness, and “faerie tale happiness.” Vividly beautiful, with a nice sprinkle of Grimm horror, this one is sure to ensorcell you!I absolutely loved Stain. It had so many rich details, and world building for ages! It felt like it had hints of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty with a sprinkle of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Stardust. It also shined with inspiration from The Princess and the Pea, but it sp Stain is hauntingly enchanting. It’s an epic tale with a perfect blend of whimsy, darkness, and “faerie tale happiness.” Vividly beautiful, with a nice sprinkle of Grimm horror, this one is sure to ensorcell you!I absolutely loved Stain. It had so many rich details, and world building for ages! It felt like it had hints of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty with a sprinkle of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Stardust. It also shined with inspiration from The Princess and the Pea, but it sparkled with its own originality and depth.This tale was everything I hoped it would be, and so much more. It was a fully realized faerie tale with bits of Gothicism, and plenty of moral lessons to provoke the mind. It spoke to me on the importance of inner beauty, friendship, sacrifice, and showing kindness in place of prejudice. It even brought to mind a very important quote from one of my favorite songs, “With glowing pride I’ll wear my scars.” (Malleus Maleficarum by AFI).Stain was about struggle and strength. It was about true love and doing what’s right, and it was about truly getting to know someone beyond their appearance. But, it was also about struggling kingdoms, magical creatures, and prophecies. It was exciting, dark, and beautiful, and it was about the vivaciously dynamic characters and how they touched each other’s lives.These characters were incredible. From odd little Lyra who defied all odds and found her inner strength and beauty, to terrifying Crony who proved that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, to the alluring trickster Luce who symbolized the importance of a conscience and redemption, to Scorch who symbolized friendship and the importance of truly getting to know and love someone, and Vesper who symbolized bravery and honor. And, let’s not forget our evil aunt Griselda and her horrid daughters, whom added a horrifying layer of strife, struggle, and wickedness. Stain was hands down the best faerie tale I have ever read. I finished it in one sitting and dreamed about it that night. The world and story came to life right off the pages. Everything was so rich and vivid, and the characters touched my heart and sparked deep emotion and thought while I was reading. I loved everything about the book and Howard’s beautiful writing. If you haven’t ordered this book yet, you need to!Thank you to Abrams/Amulet Books for providing me with this free ARC in exchange for my honest review!
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  • Benjamin
    January 1, 1970
    I have no words for this cover! Just look at it. I cannot wait that much
  • Heather
    January 1, 1970
    This book is simply fabulous! Here’s the description from Amazon.com > “ After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest . . . disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight—for she is his true equal. As This book is simply fabulous! Here’s the description from Amazon.com > “ After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest . . . disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight—for she is his true equal. As Lyra finds her way back to her identity, an imposter princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not. “ Wow! I’m a huge fan of A.G. Howard’s books so I was sure I would love Stain, but it was even better than my highest expectations! There’s quite a few fractured fairytales/ retellings out there now, but nobody does it better than A.G. Howard. There’s so much to this story that it merits reading more than once. I always discover something new when I reread Anita’s books. She researches so thoroughly before writing and her books are always what I call “a feast for the senses.” There’s so much sensory detail that I felt transported by the book and could almost hear, smell, taste and feel everything that was described. If you want a book to escape in, this is it! Stain is definitely a true classic fairytale lover’s book. It’s much more along the lines of Brother’s Grimm than Disney which is far better in my opinion. (I don’t want give any spoilers so it’s hard to list specifics lest I ruin the surprise so read on as it’s spoiler-free..) The girl called Stain is a heroic main character who endures and evolves so much through the story. I went through a roller coaster of emotions as she went on her journey and despite everything she goes through, I found her to be extremely likable. She’s a wonderful heroine and admirable character. And Vesper, sigh..if he doesn’t appeal to you at first, don’t worry, he will. There’s way more to him than what it appears so just wait for it...that’s all I can say.;) And Glistenda, Lyra’s aunt is a villain to rival all villains. If you love evil queens , witches, dark fae etc... she will not disappoint. And Crony the witch is one of the most creative and surprisingly endearing characters I’ve read in a long time! I loved that I was continually and pleasantly surprised throughout the book. There are no cheesy cliches or predictable plot points to be found and the characters are extremely well developed. The pace was perfect for me with an addictive page turning build that wouldn’t let me put the book down. Just be aware that this is NOT a light fluffy read you can breeze through in a day. There’s a lot of background and detail necessary to set the stage for the story and it’s a longer book with a lot of drama and action. Although this is a fantasy, it has substance so take your time reading. There’s plenty of surprises and revelations to keep the plot twisting and turning until its glorious end. It’s well worth the time and I thought the ending was perfect!I plan on reading it again because I know I’ll enjoy it even more the second time around. Overall, I think whether you’re a fan of fairy tales or not, you will love Stain. It’s such a well crafted book that pulls so many different fairy tale threads together weaving it into the perfect story that has something for everyone (and everything I personally love in a story.;) Does it have romance? Yes, but it’s a little more subtle than some popular books out there now. It’s not the “be all end all” driving force of the narrative. So if you hate all romance with no substance, “insta-love” and eyeroll-inducing love scenes, then no worries because you won’t find them in here! The romance is perfect for the story and I love it. It may be different than you expect but in a very good way. If you’re a fan of AG Howard you will love this book, and if you haven’t read anything by her yet I highly recommend ALL of her books. A. G Howard is a master at creating beautiful worlds and fabulous characters. Stain is a 5 Star read for me and I would give it more if I could. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as I did.:)
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  • Ash
    January 1, 1970
    you had me at high-fantasy gothic fairy tale. i wasn't a huge fan of RoseBlood, but this sounds dark and promising.
  • thi
    January 1, 1970
    finally!! a standalone mystical fantasy that, yes is a bit dense, but isn’t bogged down by over exaggerated descriptive filter at least on my radar, “fantasy” has come to mean two extremes: urban settings with a (relatively simple) magic system or an entire heavily crafted world that is often very gritty and violent ... I’ve found that this happily falls in between I feel so catered to with this particular book because I love gothic imagery/themes, plays on dark and light motifs, political intri finally!! a standalone mystical fantasy that, yes is a bit dense, but isn’t bogged down by over exaggerated descriptive filter at least on my radar, “fantasy” has come to mean two extremes: urban settings with a (relatively simple) magic system or an entire heavily crafted world that is often very gritty and violent ... I’ve found that this happily falls in between I feel so catered to with this particular book because I love gothic imagery/themes, plays on dark and light motifs, political intrigue, nature based magical systems, and romance (as a sub plot), which was all present here I feel like the author could’ve have easily made the decision to split and drag this to be a trilogy but (thankfully) didn’t because .. IT DIDN’T NEED TO BE 👏🏼👏🏼 and I desperately wish there was more stand alone high fantasy being done because I think that makes the genre so much?? Less intimidating, and more easily accessible I loved the world building, the lore, the progression of characters (primary AND secondary) and the pacing (which is my most common complaint concerning fantasy stories) I just,, actually have no real complaints I’d say while the first half is intriguing and does great world building, it’s a tad slow at times, but then by the second half it really picks up and reads much faster I feel like others may not enjoy the ending but I greatly appreciated the final act and how all the truths came to light almost in a mature way, it was lovely 4.25/5
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  • Denia Books & Baubles
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very interesting read, very different and not what I was expecting at all. The book itself is not bad but you have to have a specific taste to get through this book. The writing is based on old fairy tale writing, like the brothers Grimm or something similar. It's written in third person and her writing is beautiful and it flows nicely. However, there are many words that are confusing and "old" if that makes any sense. You have to be really paying attention to this book--like you cann This was a very interesting read, very different and not what I was expecting at all. The book itself is not bad but you have to have a specific taste to get through this book. The writing is based on old fairy tale writing, like the brothers Grimm or something similar. It's written in third person and her writing is beautiful and it flows nicely. However, there are many words that are confusing and "old" if that makes any sense. You have to be really paying attention to this book--like you cannot daydream off in the middle of the book because you'll get lost. This is short review because there's nothing much I wanted to say about this story. I liked the idea of the story and the characters were surprisingly relatable. Read this book if you like fairy tale retellings.
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  • Brittany Kantack
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so magical and beautiful, I was sucked in. The story was fantastic, the world building was perfect. I have no complaints about this book. I'm so glad I made this impulse buy. I honestly think this is one of my favorite books ever. Definitely will be in this year's top 10 favorites.
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  • Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink*
    January 1, 1970
  • Marcy McKay
    January 1, 1970
    Stain is my favorite A.G. Howard novel, which is amazing, because I've love them ALL. Her books always have a magical, fairytale quality to them and this one will not disappoint. The characters are wonderful, the writing is lush and beautiful; plus, the story is unforgettable. Stain will stay with you long after it has ended.
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  • Skye Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    4.5Lovely, but it could have been about 100 pages shorter. Full review to come.
  • Alexandra (Books-In-A-Storm)
    January 1, 1970
    I loved it! The story is amazing and I just want to read it again.
  • ella ✨
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this one! I’m a huge fan of A. G. Howard’s writing and this didn’t disappoint 😍 I would have given it 5 stars but I found the first section (150-ish pages) pretty hard to get through and I feel like a 5 star rating needs to describe the whole book, rather than the last 350 pages aha x
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  • Bethany Crandell
    January 1, 1970
    As one of AG's critique partner's, I had the privilege of reading this beautiful book while she wrote it and...OHMYGOD! You guys, this story has EVERYTHING! Rich characters, delicious world-building, an unpredictable story line riddled with betrayal and friendship, romance and heartache....it's SO good. Cannot wait for everyone to read it next year!!
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  • Ricky
    January 1, 1970
    Ooooooooooooooooh...Another A.G. Howard dark fantasy?Even though I wasn't at all a fan of RoseBlood, the Splintered trilogy still holds a dear place in my heart. Here's hoping Stain will get to share in that space! :D
  • Mikaela
    January 1, 1970
    This sounds diverse and beautiful can I have it now?
  • Chai (Like Chai Tea)
    January 1, 1970
    It's been a while since I've read a high fantasy novel and I'm happy to have stumbled on this one. "She'll lead, so every eye will be turned on her. All these years, our kingdoms have hoped for the princess of the prophecy, awaited some living fairy tale to unfold before their eyes. We'll give it to them: a princess aglow with moonlight and silver—a survivor of ash and thorns—riding through the gates, triumphant, astride a brumal stag, the epitome of hope itself." I'm not really that familiar wi It's been a while since I've read a high fantasy novel and I'm happy to have stumbled on this one. "She'll lead, so every eye will be turned on her. All these years, our kingdoms have hoped for the princess of the prophecy, awaited some living fairy tale to unfold before their eyes. We'll give it to them: a princess aglow with moonlight and silver—a survivor of ash and thorns—riding through the gates, triumphant, astride a brumal stag, the epitome of hope itself." I'm not really that familiar with The Princess and the Pea story aside from the princess sleeping on a stack of mattresses. But aside from that, this got all the elements a classic fairy tale would have with a gothic twist to it. I won't lie though, the story felt so slow to me at first and it really was and I was honestly kind of getting quite bored with it but I just kept on reading because I adore Lyra and I wanted her fairy tale ending aka the HAPPILY EVER AFTER kind of ending. So I did that. And I'm glad I didn't stop because the pace of the story picked up later on. And then there's Vesper. I ended up being soft for him too because he was really sweet towards Lyra. (view spoiler)[LIKE HE HAD THE COURT OF HIS KINGDOM LEARN THE ANCIENT LANGUAGE FOR LYRA SO THAT SHE WILL BE UNDERSTOOD AND NO ONE WOULD QUESTION HER AUTHORITY LIKE DAMNNN (hide spoiler)] "At the end of all this, those who hurt you will answer to both of us, and will bow to you as their queen. And I promise you also, as you once promised me: I will never take anything from you that you're not willing to give." It honestly made my heart happy that not only he loves her but he also trusts her and has faith in her. And I'm glad this is a standalone because I couldn't handle more drama one aunt would bring. Lyra's been through enough, this princess deserved not only her rightful crown and throne but also her freedom and happiness.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    RTC
  • Kendra Burns
    January 1, 1970
    Reading Stain has been a journey. I first got an ARC from my boss at The Book Vine here in Cherokee after she returned from a book convention. It took me months to work up the nerve to read it for fear of it ending. Today, some months after first getting my hands on this book, I can proudly say that I've finished to book. Stain is everything I had hoped it to be and more. It's dark and gritty while also being hopeful and like a dream. A.G. Howard has recaptured the magic that made Splintered one Reading Stain has been a journey. I first got an ARC from my boss at The Book Vine here in Cherokee after she returned from a book convention. It took me months to work up the nerve to read it for fear of it ending. Today, some months after first getting my hands on this book, I can proudly say that I've finished to book. Stain is everything I had hoped it to be and more. It's dark and gritty while also being hopeful and like a dream. A.G. Howard has recaptured the magic that made Splintered one of my favorite books in this Princess and the Pea inspired fairy tale. The first thing that I noticed without going into spoilers is that she wrote the story in a way that is Brothers Grimm meets modern day. The story itself doesn't take place in the modern world but the way it is written is how I imagine the Grimm brothers would have written Hansel and Gretel or Snow White had they been alive in our complex world. This story had me at the edge of my seat especially in the last two parts. Overall, I would highly recommend this book to those who are looking for a book about people overcoming how they look and for those who just love to read fairy tales. This book was the best way to start 2019.
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  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    Nah. This read like a small child's story, but it's super long and is about a teenager. I just wasn't very interested. DNF.
  • Grace P. (gracefulreads)
    January 1, 1970
    3.25 / 5 STAIN is a high-fantasy tale following Princess Lyra and Prince Vesper from two rival kingdoms. Relaying their histories from day one, the book highlights their intersecting stories and the prophecy ensuring their betrothal. When Lyra’s father, the king, dies unexpectedly, his sister, Griselda, casts Lyra out of the kingdom for her own gain. Lyra luckily survives and is rescued by a witch who takes her memories and brings her to the enchanted forest. Vesper is dying at the hand of a cur 3.25 / 5 STAIN is a high-fantasy tale following Princess Lyra and Prince Vesper from two rival kingdoms. Relaying their histories from day one, the book highlights their intersecting stories and the prophecy ensuring their betrothal. When Lyra’s father, the king, dies unexpectedly, his sister, Griselda, casts Lyra out of the kingdom for her own gain. Lyra luckily survives and is rescued by a witch who takes her memories and brings her to the enchanted forest. Vesper is dying at the hand of a curse that can only be broken when he marries Lyra. She must retake all that has been stolen from her in order to unite and save him and both of their kingdoms.While reading STAIN, I could not help but feel the enchantment of the story on each page. Howard can write truly spellbinding worlds and characters who are impossible to ignore or forget. From page one, I knew that STAIN would not be like any fantasy I have ever read. The brutal but also beautiful aspects of this fairytale are shocking, and I am still reeling from everything that happened to Lyra and Vesper. Their two kingdoms are opposites in every way --- one has the night, and one has the day --- and that made the world building an essential part of the story and plot. Many pages are dedicated to the history of this world because it eventually affects Lyra and Vesper directly. As a retelling, it was not necessary to be familiar with The Princess and the Pea to enjoy the story. The book alternates between many different settings, but the enchanted forest was probably the most entertaining to read about. Of course, the two kingdoms had different politics, but the enchanted forest is full of outcasts with their own social codes and norms. I knew that Lyra would be a favorite character from the beginning, but Vesper steadily became one as well. As the ultimate villain, Griselda was so easy to dislike and grow frustrated with. The witch who rescues Lyra, Crony, surprisingly, had the most intriguing backstory in the book, and Luce, a sort of assistant to Crony, is probably my favorite character of all. STAIN makes it easy to love or hate each character, and readers feel many emotions as a result. A.G. Howard is an author who has always intrigued me, but I have not read one of her books until now. STAIN was not what I expected at first, but I believe it succeeds in what Howard aimed for: an enchanting nightmare turned fairytale. I would recommend not reading the full synopsis of this book because it does give significant parts of the book away. The scope of this novel as a standalone is vast and covers many years of Vesper’s and Lyra’s lives. At times it felt like I would never finish this book, but one of its best qualities is that the story is continuously moving in a new place and direction with each chapter. Much of this world and its characters were left unexplored in the 500 pages of STAIN, and I can imagine a spin-off or two in the future even though it is supposed to be a standalone. There is too much worldbuilding for this book not to set the stage for more. I recommend STAIN to readers of high-fantasy like SPINDLE FIRE and GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS and fans of A.G. Howard’s other works. As an infrequent reader of high-fantasy, this book felt long, but I imagine if high-fantasy intrigues you, STAIN will as well. Howard crafted a world and plot so carefully and entirely that it is bound to be cherished by many readers. Readers who enjoy the mystical setting, high stakes, and kingdom politics will enjoy STAIN.
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  • Thuglein
    January 1, 1970
    An Actual FairytaleI love retellings. I grew up on Disney and fell in love with the darker, more honest stories from which they came. So I love fairytale retellings, but Stain is unique. This is the first novel I've read from A. G. Howard and I'm am impressed. First, what do I mean by it's an 'Actual Fairytale'? It read like one. From the beautiful images that Howard painted with words, to her characters, both heros and villains, to the unfolding plot and the world she built, throughout it all, An Actual FairytaleI love retellings. I grew up on Disney and fell in love with the darker, more honest stories from which they came. So I love fairytale retellings, but Stain is unique. This is the first novel I've read from A. G. Howard and I'm am impressed. First, what do I mean by it's an 'Actual Fairytale'? It read like one. From the beautiful images that Howard painted with words, to her characters, both heros and villains, to the unfolding plot and the world she built, throughout it all, it was like stepping into an actual fairytale. The whole time I was reading, each word that dropped like rain onto my mind gave me a sense of mystic and fantasy, like I was a storyteller, walking alongside Lyra and Vesper through their journeys. Howard wove her words into a living, breathing fairytale, not only in substance, but in sense. It had been a long time since I felt the childhood nostalgia of discovering a dreamy fantasy. It was all the wonder of childhood with the maturity of adulthood. A perfect fairytale for a young adult.As I've said, Howard's writing is beautiful, full of imagery. I love how detailed and dark the story was. It was like Disney's Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but with more in-depth and mundane details of Snow's trek through the forest and her time with the dwarves, with a longer, more exquisite journey of the prince through the briar garden sequestering Beauty in her tower, and with elaboration of the Stepmother's motives and actions along with Cinderella's fight from beaten daughter-turned-servant to strong-willed and brave queen. It was all I remembered in a fairytale as a child and everything else I didn't know I wanted as an adult.Now to the meat of the matter (SPOILER AHEAD)Second, I love how Howard wrote Lyra and Vesper, how they inevitably came together in the end. I liked the surprise of a reversal, where rather than the prince coming to save the princess, it is Lyra who kisses Vesper awake. There were times when Lyra's growth from timid princess to warrior queen seemed jarring, but I loved how each character played their role and how Howard fulfilled the prophecy with unexpected surprises.
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  • KristynRene The Hype Queen of Books
    January 1, 1970
    You had me at albino and mute female lead because YES!!!!! I'm picturing a glorious Connie Chiu and Thando Hopa levels of elegance and grace. I think there was a glorious opportunity for diversity here and it was just missed. (Still excited to read this story though!)
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