A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

With just one touch, bread turns into roses. With just one bite, cheese turns into lilies.

There’s a famine plaguing the land, and Princess Yzabel is wasting food simply by trying to eat. Before she can even swallow, her magic—her curse—has turned her meal into a bouquet. She’s on the verge of starving, which only reminds her that the people of Portugal have been enduring the same pain.

If only it were possible to reverse her magic. Then she could turn flowers…into food.

Fatyan, a beautiful Enchanted Moura, is the only one who can help. But she is trapped by magical binds. She can teach Yzabel how to control her curse—if Yzabel sets her free with a kiss.

As the King of Portugal’s betrothed, Yzabel would be committing treason, but what good is a king if his country has starved to death?

With just one kiss, Fatyan is set free. And with just one kiss, Yzabel is yearning for more.

She’d sought out Fatyan to help her save the people. Now, loving her could mean Yzabel’s destruction.

****

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Review:

Every time I request a YA book on NetGalley, I panic a little when I remember how hit and miss I am with the YA genre. When I do enjoy a YA novel however, I’m really loving it. A Curse of Roses absolutely falls under that ‘love it’ umbrella.

A Curse of Roses, tells the story of Yza, a kind-hearted princess forced into an arranged marriage with a man she doesn’t love, all fight a curse that turns any food she touches to flowers, a curse that’s slowly killing her. In a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save herself, she turn to the enchanted Moura Fatyan, who promises both to cure her and help her train this ‘curse’ into something that might also allow her to help her people. Slowly, they fall in love. but battle homophobia and political drama.

What’s fascinating about this story and what I think makes it so compelling is the small scope. Yza has grand goals of improving the lives of her countrymen, but the focus on this story is on her and the local villagers within her immediate reach. The cast here is small, with only a handful of important named characters, but the politics and court drama never feels empty. It’s these two points that really allow Yza’s own story, her fight against that terrifyingly internalized homophobia, the development of her relationship with Fatyan, and her partnership with her “husband'”. Even the climax of the story is “minor”, so to speak, and the story is stronger for it.

The homophobia in A Curse of Roses stems primarily in Yza’s Christian faith, something I (and I imagine other readers) am uncomfortable with due to personal background. Yza’s internal turmoil of coming to realize she loves women, her deeply internalized homophobia, leads to extreme anguish and even there are mentions of self-harm as well as one fairly intense scene of self-flagellation that I had to take a pause at. While Yza manages to overcome these struggles without losing her faith in God and, in my opinion, well explored, the subjects were deeply uncomfortable to me, who’s faced extreme homophobia through Church and have left because. Reader be warn.

Overall, I rate this book a 4/5. The tight scope and small cast made for a tightly woven sapphic story of a young princess attempting to help her people while battling her own curses and internalized homophobia


r/Fantasy Bingo Squares:

  • Novel Published in 2020 (hard mode)
  • Feminist Novel (hard mode)
  • Romantic Fantasy
  • Novel Featuring Politics

Publication Date: 1 December 2020
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Format: ebook, ARC
Pages: 352
Word Count: ~94,000
ISBN: 1682815102
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

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