Book Reviews

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

Expected publication December 1st, 2020 by Entangled: Teen.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

Based on Portuguese legend, this #OwnVoices historical fantasy is an epic tale of mystery, magic, and making the impossible choice between love and duty…

Content Warnings: religious-based self harm, eating disorders and internalized homophobia

Thank you to the publisher, Entangled: Teen/Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

“Leave it to men to believe themselves the reason for a woman’s actions.”

A Curse of Roses is a queer retelling of the Portuguese legend, the Miracle of Roses, which is the story of Rainha Santa Isabel. In this 13th century reimagining by Diana Pinguicha, Isabel is Yzabel – princess of Aragon and Majorca and betrothed to the king of Portugal and the Algraves. With Yzabel’s nuptials to King Denis in the near future, she shouldn’t feel anything but anticipated joy. But things are not as hopeful as they may first appear.

Portugal is starving – slowly, but surely. And Yzabel has been cursed so that every piece of food she touches instantly turns into roses. Luckily, there seems to be a way to cure her of this plight. If she’s able to find the Enchanted Moura Fatyan – entrapped forever in a magical stone – and is able to free her from her prison, legend has it that the Enchanted Moura will grant Yzabel her wish – to be free of this alleged curse.

But after meeting Fatyan – and sharing one fateful kiss – Yzabel finds herself set on a different path, one she could have never anticipated. And one much more dangerous, but with the potential for almost unthinkable rewards, if she can manage to navigate through it.

This book! My heart! It absolutely burst while reading Yzabel’s story. 🥺💗

A Curse of Roses is anything but a light read. Yet, despite the hurt it kept me coming back for more – and more. I was immediately hooked, right from the first page, and unable to put it down until I was finished.

This book has everything! Heartbreaking (queer!) romance, magical theology, political intrigue, unexpected plot twists, strong female characters, and – most importantly – powerful women coming together for the greater good. 💪

I was instantly attached to Yzabel from the first moment I was introduced to her. She’s caring, empathetic and strong-willed. Literally everything I look for in my main characters. It was so hard to watch her go through so much hardship! I just wanted her and Fatyan to forget all their worries, run away together and elope!

And Fatyan! Speaking of Fatyan, let me just say, that I loved her. Absolutely adored her! She was fabulous – and the perfect love interest for Yzabel. I loved how she taught her the importance of self-love and knowing your worth. Such valuable lessons to learn.

Yzabel was definitely on the extreme side of self-deprecating, which was a little hard to handle at some moments. I just wanted to reach my hands into the story, grip her by the arms and shake her, saying, “you deserve better!” I literally made a meme to express my feelings, lmao.

All of my scrambled ramblings and excited shouting to say that I very much enjoyed this tale. You can feel how much thought, intention and love was put into making it. I, in particular, really loved the inclusion of the recipe for Açorda Alentejana at the end. That’s definitely something I’m looking forward to making soon!

It had been a while since I really immersed myself in a quality historical fantasy novel, and I’m so glad I chose A Curse of Roses to fill that void. It’s the PERFECT queer romance for a fantasy lover like myself. And if that description fits you as well, then I think this book might just be the one for you too.

“And although the nervousness remained, she no longer feared the waste, because she had never been cursed to waste. She’d been blessed to transform.”

Have you read any good queer fantasy novels lately?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.


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