This book is like receiving a warm, magical hug…and then getting a little stabbed in your little heart.
Just like a little stabbing. It’s ok. It’ll be fine. I’m only languishing like a flopped rag doll on the floor wishing for book two…(briiiiiing me closer to nEXT JANUARY).
I really adore Brigid Kemmerer’s work, with Letters To The Lost being one of my all time favourites. So I was excited to see her foray into epic fantasy too. And like, pfft, of course it did not disappoint. (I’m also keen to read her Elemental series which I have the first three books of so apparently it is The Year Of Kemmerer and do I look like I am complaining. I am not.)
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for the review-copy! This was out February 4, 2019!
➸ this is a beauty and the beast retelling!
I’m a ferocious fan of retellings, but I like them to bring something fresh to the old stories. And this one did. It’s obviously still Beauty and the Beast, but the plot twists were fresh and the characters felt new and I adored how this version has eternally replaying “Seasons” where Rhen tries again and again to break the curse — but he dies. And he reboots. And has to do it all over again. And over the course of the season, he has to make a girl fall in love with him as he slowly turns into a monster.
So basically he is in a Groundshog day of eternally being eighteen, a monster, and everyone hates him. HAve a good life Rhen.
Note: He is not having A Good Life.
➸ the magical castle was my favourite thing
It’s also stuck in time, so it’s this flawless cheerful and permanently lush and opulent castle (or prison) and it just mocks how horrible Rhen’s life is. Sweet music plays. Delicious food appears out of nowhere. It’s beautiful and eternal….and empty. Because his whole family is murdered, his kingdom is falling apart. He’s down to one guard (Grey). And this is the last season before the monster destroys him forever.
➸ but let’s talk about Harper ok?!
She was a fierce bucket of live-wire SPARKS. While Rhen is the Prince of a magical world called Emberfall, Harper hails from good ol’ earth (D.C. to be specific) and has a horrible home life. Her brother is a criminal, her mum is dying, and she gets kidnapped and zapped to a completely different dimension. So to say she is enormously pissed off is an understatement. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ She does NOT sit down and take this quietly. She will stab u. Twice. She also has cerebral palsy which I loved, because seeing badass girls with disabilities in magical settings is something YA needs.
Harper: I want answers!
Rhen: you…want to play cards??
Harper: a n s w e r s
Rhen: do you…want a nice drink?
Harper: aNSWERS OR I WILL STAB YOU
Rhen: do you want a snack”
➸ And shhh shh a moment for my fave: Grey.
I confess he was my absolute favourite of the whole book. He’s a secondary character, but I rotated shipping him with Harper AND Rhen. At least in the beginning, lol lol. He’s Mister Solemn Loyal Soldier Sir (but secretly plays with kids and is soft™) and he’s the mum-friend and the protector. He will BLEED for Rhen and Harper.
THE MUM FRIEND OK.
➸ so let’s talk about the romance…was it Stockholm Syndrome?
Actually no! Obviously Harper is Not Thrilled™ to be kidnapped. But Rhen wasn’t aggressive or domineering either. He was actually…dude, he was depressed. He hide it behind being aloof and princely, but he gets tortured by a witch at night and he knows he turns into this monster that kills people and he’s just…so so done. He’s tired and sad and smol.
Harper is this woman of ACTION (let’s SAVE Emberfall! Let’s FITE the bad guys! Let’s CHANGE things!) and Rhen is this exhausted Slytherin just like…watching her go for it.
Harper: *charges off to save something*
Grey: should go after her
Rhen: let’s wait till she’s stabs something and falls over then we’ll help
➸ The ending freaking ruined me also, thanks for that, and how was your day?
I’m just pining for the next book. I was blatantly HIT with emotions and then left with so so many questions. The plot twist? I applaud. The end was full of monstrous action scenes, blood and viscera, aching hearts and shredded hopes.
➸ it was very long.
So the pacing was slow (and they spent a lot of time going back and forth from an inn lol) but this also developed Harper and Rhen’s personalities and relationship so!! There’s that.
A Curse So Dark And Lonely is a vivid retelling that’s full of lush magic, complex charaters and and over whelming feeling of loneliness. It’s about people who think they are alone in their fight…until they’re not. And it’s about wanting and fierce love and getting back up when you’ve been cut down. It is about a girl who brings hope to a boy who is terrified of the monster inside him.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But 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.