by Elana K. Arnold


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*A 2019 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book*

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062742339
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/28/2020
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 251,322
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Elana K. Arnold is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner Damsel and the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets. You can visit her online at www.elanakarnold.com.


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Damsel 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written and engaging, however the progression of the story had much to be desired.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I was expecting at all. I feel like over the course of 200 something pages nothing was accomplished. The descriptions in this book we're crude
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
even if the concept of the story is good, I felt very uncomfortable while reading some passages, which were very graphic and was about sexual assault and rape. I seriously do not understand why it is rated YA and I do not recommend it for teenage girls.
Mel-Loves-Books More than 1 year ago
“You see, Ama, it is for men to create. It is for men to decide. It is for men to speak. It is your place to listen, and follow and gestate. And those are no small things! For without women to listen, how would the men’s words be heard? Without your fertile womb, how could my son hope to grow? You are important, Ama. Desperately important. But do not over reach.” Damsel by Elana K. Arnold was nothing like what I was expecting, and unfortunately I do not mean in a good way. First of all I thought this book was marketed as being young adult. If that is the case, I think it is very very wrong. Their are very descriptive and disturbing sexual scenes in this book. Stuff that made me cringe. And the bodily descriptions were really bad 80s romance novel level of bad. The story itself had some promise, and I like the direction she took with empowering women and even some of the elements with the dragon. I just cannot overlook the writing and the disturbing elements that were really unnecessary to the story. I give the book 1.5 stars, and frankly I asked myself several times why I was even bothering to finish reading this book. I wish I had stopped when I was first turned off.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea was very interesting, it is what attracted me to buy the book. But there was no character development at all. It was painstakingly slow and frustrating. The end though slightly satisfying left much to be desired. Pretty disappointed with how it panned out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish it was longer!
Badger_Books More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Elana K. Arnold's books. Her writing realistically captures the lives of teen girls, and she treats her characters with the respect and dignity they deserve; even when she puts them in awful circumstances. DAMSEL is a powerful book for readers of all genders and absolutely drips with evocative, dynamic, and compelling language. This novel will especially resonate with readers who appreciate fairy tale retellings by Malinda Lo, Meagan Spooner, Marissa Meyer, and Danielle Paige.
jkholmes More than 1 year ago
When I saw the cover for Damsel by Elana K. Arnold, I had to know what lurked inside, and then when I read the synopsis, I wanted to dive into its pages. I love twisted fairy tales, especially when they feature strong female protagonists like Ama. I began reading Damsel and kept reading, and reading, and reading...until I finished it. I simply could not put it down. Written in third person omniscient, Damsel takes the damsel-in-distress trope and turns it on its head. What happens to a hero who discovers there's more to slaying a dragon than meets the eye? What happens when a damsel who was never truly in distress is rescued? What happens when It-Is-This-Way-Because-It-Has-Always-Been-This-Way is no longer good enough? Elana K. Arnold has answered those questions and created a truly wicked fairy tale in the process. Ama's story is also a timely one. As the real world watches more and more women stand up for themselves and say "I refuse to be a victim," Ama's plight as a damsel searching for her place and for her own identity becomes all the more poignant. For example, the following passage from Damsel holds so much meaning: "...You see, Ama, it is for men to create. It is for men to decide. It is for men to speak. It is your place to listen, and follow, and gestate. And those are no small things! For without women to listen, how would the men's words be heard?...You are important, Ama. Desperately important. But do not overreach." Sound familiar? In the time of the MeToo and Nevertheless She Persisted movements, Damsel is a unique and timely reminder of the ridicule and barriers women have faced throughout history, and how something seemingly as benign as fairy tales can impact our perceptions for ourselves and our place in the world. My only complaint with Damsel, and it's a minor one, is that I had figured out The Big Reveal early on in the tale. This didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book, especially since The Big Reveal did include a twist I had not considered, but I do think the author could have been a little more subtle in her hints toward The Big Reveal.
ruthsic More than 1 year ago
Damsel is a dark fairytale deriving its inspiration from the stories of valiant knights who would save maidens from the dragons imprisoning them. Ama is told by her ‘rescuer’, the heir to his kingdom, Emory, that he saved her and it is the tradition of his kingdom, a rite of passage for the ascending king to slay a dragon and marry the maiden he rescues so. She doesn’t remember anything before waking up in his arms, and the slow realization that she is going to be trapped in a life where she bound by what she is supposed to do, and no room for her own desires. Initially charmed by him, but slowly realizing his cruel nature, she tries to make peace with her lot in life, but the blank slate of her past has her on edge all the time, along with the attitudes of the people around her, who may pity her situation but are unable or won’t help her. The overwhelming dread throughout the novel might be difficult for many readers. I, myself, had to put it down a couple of times because of my worries over what might happen next. Emory proves to be a walking dick, in more ways than one, even from the first few chapters which are from his POV (the book is entirely in the third person). He is a spoiled brat of a prince, who has basically taken what he wanted and was taught only one kind of masculinity – which thrives on the submission of women. I have read way more about his yard (who even knew that word is used in this context?) than I intended too, and in situations that I would rather forget. Ama, meanwhile, is instinctively fearful of him – well, the male species – even from her first waking memory, and her instincts are proven right when he brings her to his castle and parades her around like a trophy while forcing his affections on her. She bears with most of it for the sake of her pet lynx kit (which was orphaned thanked to Emory) who is being threatened by the falconer/best friend of the prince, another cruel character. I thought maybe she would find some comfort of support from the Queen Mother, who has been a Damsel herself, but that woman has been long resigned to her fate. The book doesn’t try to be subtle about the threat of the violence permeating it, nor the roles these characters play. There are frequent enough mentions of Ama’s body (enough with the nest, please!)and her beauty- a way to establish her chief value in the eyes of the people, and the inherent threat of being a woman in a misogynistic world. The men in this book thrive off making the women submissive creatures, and the women have been bred and brought up in a culture that even they only see one use for themselves. She is, quite simply, helpless for most of the novel, but chases down the slim thread of a memory of warmth and the insistent nudge in her heart that something is there in her past. She tries to find a place for herself in her new life, but like her lynx kitten, she is a creature not meant to be kept in captivity. The gloomy and threatening nature of the novel does evolve into a satisfactory ending, though, which makes up for the anxiety this novel put me through. Finally, while this is being shelved as YA, I would advise caution to younger readers due to the content and nature of the novel. There is darkly fantastic tales and then there is simply dark tales. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Balzer + Bray, via Edelweiss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not for the faint of heart! Absolutely stunning. Very well written. Great plot and top notch character development. Wish it was longer! I didn't want it to end!