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I love a retelling of a classic tale. Especially of Beauty and the Beast, so when I learned of A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer it found its way onto my bookshelves. Though it’s taken me a few months to getting around to reading it. As I have many books awaiting my attention. Plus, I was a bit nervous to read it. I kind of kept thinking “what if it’s like A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas” that was another retelling of this tale. Well, the two books are extremely different. And I’m glad about that. This one feels more like Beauty and the Beast without some other story (Hades and Persephone) being intertwined with it. While this one goes off in its own direction from the original tale, it still stays true in some regards to it, while still telling a compelling story of its own.
Fall in love, break the curse.
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. 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.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
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.
- Published: January 29, 2019
- Page Count: 507 pages
- Genre: YA Fantasy
My Thoughts on A Curse So Dark And Lonely
This book follows the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. Girl (Harper) gets kidnapped by a Prince (Rhen) that is cursed by an enchantress (Lilith), or rather she’s captured by his only guard (Grey). Only instead of being a beast all the time, he turns into one in the last half of a season before the cycle begins again. He has been stuck as an eighteen-year-old for 300+ cycles of autumn though many were not full seasons. The only way to break his curse is for a maiden to fall in love with him within the cycle (3 months or really a few weeks considering the last half he’s a beast with a different form every time). So, the odds aren’t really in his favor. Plus, he’s jaded after so many attempts at breaking the curse that he no longer believes it’s possible.
Harper isn’t some damsel that Grey finds either. In fact, she wasn’t even his choice for Rhen. Harper was trying to stop Grey from kidnapping a girl and ended up being taken instead. She was supposed to be the lookout for her brother, while he worked odd and borderline criminal jobs for a loan shark that their father left them to deal with. All the while her mother is dying from cancer with barely three months left to live. And Harper suffers from cerebral palsy, so she suffers from walking or using her left leg. The one thing she does not lack is the determination not to be a victim or be pampered into falling for Rhen. She realizes pretty quick what his curse is or at least how one would break it. Granted, she didn’t know the monster everyone mentions is actually Rhen. She’s similar to Belle in that way. They are both stubborn and care a lot for their families.
The story switches back and forth between Rhen’s and Harper’s POV. So, you get the tale from both sides. Rhen is calculating and always thinking twenty moves ahead. While Harper is caring and compassionate. At one point, I almost thought it was going to almost take a Throne of Glass turn where Harper ends up with Grey similar to how Caelena picks Chaol over Dorian (granted that’s not end game but close enough for this comparison). But Rhen and Harper form a truce and bond over the loss of their families. Rhen mourns for his and Harper worries for hers. Especially since her mother is dying and her brother is in over his head with the loan shark named Lawrence.
However, that’s where The Beauty and the Beast comparisons end. It’s a different tale. Harper doesn’t just spend months in the castle with Rhen until she eventually falls loves him. And Rhen’s country hasn’t forgotten about him the way the Beast (Prince Philip in Disney’s version) did. They have felt abandoned by the royal family (which Rhen killed during his first transformation), and have been living in isolation and poverty. Not to mention another country to the North is ready to invade and take over. So, the two have to work together to stop this from happening and regaining the loyalty of the country. Though it is Rhen’s last cycle of the curse as Lilith releases him from it as a means of torture, and that if Harper doesn’t fall for him by the end of the cycle then Rhen would remain a monster forever. So, Rhen more does it to protect what’s left of his country before his end comes. As he does not plan to remain a monster forever, ordering Grey to kill him if he turns. And Harper helps because she doesn’t like people suffering. Not to mention, it’s part of an agreement she made with Rhen in order to get an audience with Lilith. One she does get, but Lilith refuses to send her home.
I won’t reveal what happens in the end. Or really say what happens beyond the basics from earlier. Because I think it’s nice to go into books with no spoilers. It keeps some air of mystery to be discovered within the pages of the book.
But it was good. I enjoyed the book and I’m curious where the rest of the series will go. Okay one kind of a spoiler, I was surprised that the book ended with the curse-breaking. I thought it would be something that stretches throughout the series. But it ends at the end of the first book. And a whole lot of things and mystery remain up in the air. So, I’m curious how those things will play out in the remaining two books of the series.
Overall, I would give A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer a 4 out of 5 stars. I couldn’t put this book down. And I’m trying really hard not to look up fanart or anything in case of spoilers for the remaining two books.
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