Let’s talk about ace relationships, fairy tale mashups, and novella’s in verse. Let’s talk The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion.
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.
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.
I think it’s not a secret that I loved this book because of the representation. It was so affirming to see an ace character on page. We see how different societies treat being ace and aro. And this novella is full of important conversations. About how sometimes labels give us security, while it’s different for others. It’s about important conversations about assault, the use of one’s ace identity as a weapon against them, and how it’s seen in certain societies as ‘abnormal’.
The Ice Princess’s Fair Illusion is a much needed novella. It is a conversation between two fantastic protagonists, hard conversations, and finding acceptance. At the same time it’s a novella with characters struggling to be the person they want to be. People who are searching for acceptance and their journey to forgiveness.
There are also bisexual and grayromantic/demiromantic side characters. And in a fairytale setting no less! I want more queer, more diverse fairy tales. With a fierce passion in my heart. This story is like a warm hug. It’s an affirming embrace of support and love. I actually don’t really have any other words for how beautiful this novella is.