by Brigid Kemmerer
Series: A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1
Published on January 29, 2019 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
An instant New York Times Best Seller! In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.
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 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.
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.
Book Depository Amazon Barnes & Noble Indiebound Wordery
I have officially found my favorite Beauty and the Beast re-telling to date and it is A Curse So Dark and Lonely! This book has a little bit of everything all woven together in a fantastic take on the original tale.
Harper, our Belle of the ball, lives in the modern world and is dealing with a lot of family issues when, out of the blue, she ends up in this fantasy land with a stoic guardsman (Grey) and distant prince (Rhen, the “Beast”). So, first off, I love that this is a mashing of worlds! I don’t see a lot of that anymore and I liked that Harper held true to her modern self while also trying to fit into a realm entirely unlike her own. It added another element to the story, while also not falling into info dump territory.
And it’s not as if time just stops in the modern world while Harper is away. Her family is still in danger and she’s stuck in a foreign land. The stakes are HIGH. Like life-or-death high. Right off the bat, I understand her motivations and can root for her. She was a flawed character in a good way. Between her internal conflicts while growing closer to Rhen and having to remember her family’s situation in a world she couldn’t reach, and the external conflicts of navigating the kingdom of Emberfall, she had a lot of decisions to make and they weren’t always the right ones. Harper is stubborn, headstrong, and passionate about what she believes in. I also loved that she has cerebral palsy but it wasn’t written as a means to define her. It was a part of her as much as anything else and it made her stronger.
Now from the tale, we know that the Beauty needs to fall in love with the Beast to break the curse. In this version, though, the beast’s identity is a mystery to Harper but she knows fairly early on that Rhen is cursed in some way, that she has to fall in love with him. I loved that it wasn’t some big secret (at least not all of it) because the story shifted from a romance to a fantasy with a romance. It’s a subtle shift but made a huge impact on the plot. The curse was very much at the forefront but the romance fell back in lieu of Harper and Rhen working together to go beyond the curse and accomplish something more in his kingdom.
Speaking of Rhen, I. . . liked him. But I didn’t love his character. He’s very much a passive person at first. Harper encourages him to take charge and do something rather than let things happen but I wasn’t swooning over him.
I reserved that for Grey. The loyal guard. The trusted friend. The one willing to work with Harper as she was rather than expect her to instantly change herself because she gets kidnapped and taken away from her family. Although I knew who Harper would end up with because it’s the nature of re-tellings (at least for the first book), I have hope that things change in the series because I SO ship Harper and Grey.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely slowly builds the action and character relationships up to the point that I couldn’t guess what would happen next. It was glorious! And I’m amazed I didn’t even pick up on the big twist at the end, which makes it that much harder to wait for the sequel!
This isn’t a re-telling you want to miss out on. I highly recommend grabbing a copy so we can wait in agony for the sequel!