Overall: 5/5 Stars
Plot and Themes: 5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 4/5
Review in a Nutshell: A Curse So Dark and Lonely deserves the hype it’s been getting. This book is a refreshing take on a familiar tale with political intrigue, magic, and, of course, romance.
“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”
[ Related: 19 Best Debut Novels of 2019 (Recommendation Nation) ]
// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Suicide Mention, Suicide, Self Harm Mention, Rape Mention, Pedophelia Mention, War Themes, Mental Illness, PTSD, Kidnapping/Abduction //
Release Date: 1/29/2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Page Count: 484
A Curse So Dark and Lonely follows Prince Rhen, and Harper. Prince Rhen was cursed, forced to live through the same fall again and again, with each season ending in him turning into a monster focused solely on destruction. The monster has destroyed everything, but, he could escape this curse if only a girl falls for him. Harper lives in Washington, D.C., with her brother and dying mother, that is, until she gets dragged into a fantasy world by a stranger. She isn’t going to be charmed by the prince, but when she sees how the people of his kingdom are faring, she decides to use her time in the enchanted land to help.
““Rhen,” she calls after me.
I pause in the doorway and face her.
“I’m not going to fall in love with you,” she says.
Her words are not a surprise. I sigh.
“You won’t be the first.””
“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”
Writing & Setting
I have to give Brigid Kemmerer’s writing a lot of credit here, because her style lends itself so well to our world, where Harper is from, and the enchanted land of Emberfall. Certain genres tend to pair best with certain writing styles, and Kemmerer managed to find the perfect middle ground so this book could feel grounded in both worlds. Speaking of worlds- I love the settings she created for this story. D.C. and Emberfall felt so distinct, yet equally realistic despite their intrinsic differences. Emberfall is especially well developed, with fantastic world building that feels accurate and real without having heavy exposition or info-dumps. Kemmerer clearly worked hard on flushing out this world so that the politics, magic, and military strategies used all seemed more than reasonable.
”This was never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.”
the true curse was the friends we made along the way
So, you can probably guess that this book is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. There have been a lot of retellings of this story, and while it is my favorite fairytale, I’ll admit I’m a little sick of them. There are only so many versions of the same story you can read before it gets boring! That said, this one was not boring at all. I really could not predict where it was going, and what was going to happen. And the combination of the world, writing style, and characters made it stand out even more.
The plot itself, outside of the typical Beauty and the Beast story beats, felt unique and original. It was a perfect mix of politics (which were extremely interesting and well done), action, and character moments. The pace was fast, but not ruthless, perfect for reading in one sitting!
“I didn’t realize it was possible to be strong and yielding at the same time.”
This book has some good characters, and I especially loved the character interactions between those who come from different worlds- they were so fun. Harper is a strong protagonist. I absolutely loved the disability representation- she has cerebral palsy, and while it’s mentioned and it is a big part of her life, as disabilities are, it doesn’t take over her character. It’s really way too common authors to make their character’s disability their entire personality, but that is definitely not the case with Harper and I’m so grateful for that. Prince Rhen is another great character, and I especially enjoyed his growth throughout the book. Let’s face it- I’m trash for angsty princes who slowly grow as people. I can see why people may not ship him with Harper, but I adored their dynamic. Then there’s Grey. He’s a fantastic character and I wish we had more time with him (thank god we do in the sequel!). My only issue with these characters is that it did take some time for me to really connect with them, and even by the end there were still a few characters I should have cared about that I didn’t as much.
“Failure isn’t absolute, just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”
Pros- Fun, addictive, a unique take on the original fairytale
Cons- The next book doesn’t follow Rhen and Harper and that hurts me inside
Overall- 5/5 stars.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a fantastic take on my favorite fairytale, breathing new life into the story in a memorable way.
If You Liked A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I’d Recommend:
- The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh – [ Review ]
- The Marked Girl (Marked Girl #1) by Lindsay Klingele
Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely yet?? If so, what’d you think? Are you excited for A Heart So Fierce and Broken?
Also, what’s your favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling? I think mine is either A Court of Thorns and Roses (because, let’s face it, I’m basic) or this one.