A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Publication Date: January 29th, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Where did I get this book?: My awesome bookstagram friend Taylor from @the_bookish_ballad sent me a copy!
Summary: Fall in love, break the curse. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom. Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
My Rating: : ☆☆☆☆
There are a lot of reasons for why Brigid Kemmerer is one of my top favorite writers. This book is one of them. She expertly combines the modern world and fairy tale land to create a spellbinding story with deeply motivated characters, a strong plot and vivid scenery.
First, let’s talk about Harper. If you know me, you probably know I have a hard time liking female protagonists. Too often, they’re whiny, overly insecure and weak. Harper is an outstanding female protagonist. I loved how she refused to let anyone talk down to her and stayed true to herself. For a while, I worried she might become a “Stockholm syndrome” character – falling head over heels in love with Rhen despite everything that had happened to her. However, nothing about Harper’s actions felt forced or unrealistic. It would have been easy to make her fall for Rhen à la instalove, but Kemmerer isn’t one for cutting corners, something I quite appreciate.
In addition to Harper’s stick-to-it-iveness and strong personality, her pride in being an individual with cerebral palsy is admirable. She doesn’t take flak from anyone. CP is a part of her life, but she refuses to regard it as a weakness.
They believe her limp is the result of a war injury, but Harper is quick to correct them. “I was born this way,” she’ll snap, “and I’m going to die this way, so teach me to work around it.”
Then there’s Grey. He’s my no. 1 book boyfriend now, and if anything happens to him in A Heart So Fierce And Broken, I will never get over it. Grey is Prince Rhen’s guard commander. Despite having no one left to command, he is fiercely loyal and lets nothing get between him and his duty. That being said, he’s a total softy and has a big heart. One moment, he is scary Grey. The next, he’s making children laugh. Also, no spoilers but…that ending. Wow.
Okay, time to talk about Rhen. He wasn’t my favorite, probably because even in his POV chapters, he is very closed off and brooding. It was hard to really like him, but after a while he starts opening up. Once his pride starts to wear down and the desperation he feels begins to show, it’s easier to understand him. He doesn’t have anything left to hide, no cards left to play. He’s a prince who made a terrible mistake and left his people to pay the price. Then Harper shows up and he finally has a chance at setting things to right again.
Rhen puts his hands on my arms and leans in. When he speaks, his voice is very low, very quiet, just for me. “My father is dead, my lady. My whole family is dead.” He pulls back, meeting my gaze, but his voice doesn’t change. “That monster killed them all.”
As for the story itself, I found it to be very well-paced and attention-holding. Despite being nearly 500 pages, the plot doesn’t falter or become dull and drawn out. From the very first lines – There is blood under my fingernails. I wonder how many of my people I’ve killed this time. – I felt pulled into the story. There were wonderfully executed twists that kept me turning pages to see what happened next! This ‘Beauty and The Beast’ retelling is dark but hopeful, and I eagerly look forward to the sequel!
Content warnings: Mild language, abduction, character death, torture/abuse, suicidal thoughts, ableist speech (never condoned), and assault.
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below!