A Curse So Dark and Lonely (The Cursebreaker Series) Paperback – 29 January 2019
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An intensely original retelling. Full of fierce new characters, wicked magic, and wondrous amounts of heart, Brigid Kemmerer doesn’t just tell a story, she builds an entire world that you will never want to leave ― Stephanie Garber, Sunday Times bestselling author of Caraval
I couldn't get this creative, suspenseful take on Beauty and the Beast out of my head ― Sara Holland, New York Times bestselling author of Everless
The Beauty and the Beast retelling I've been waiting for. The world Brigid has crafted is so beautifully dark, filled with wild adventure and a modern-day heroine every reader will find a bit of themselves in ― Alexandra Christo, author of To Kill a Kingdom
Slow burning, big hearted, magical fun! I loved every minute ― Wendy Higgins, New York Times bestselling author
Heartwarming, thoughtful and romantic: Brigid Kemmerer took me on a magical journey with this dark fairytale about growing up, falling in love, and making impossible choices ― Jodi Meadows, co-author of My Lady Jane and My Plain Jane
This is a gripping read, driven by a powerful and original heroine ― CBI Mind Yourself 2020 Reading Guide
About the Author
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- Publisher : Bloomsbury YA (29 January 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1408884615
- ISBN-13 : 978-1408884614
- Reading age : 7 years and up
- Item Weight : 360 g
- Dimensions : 12.3 x 3.1 x 19 cm
- Country of Origin : United Kingdom
- Generic Name : Book
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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By Misty on 15 February 2019
This is the problem that Prince Rhen of Emberfall is facing. Having made one mistake in his youth, he is cursed to relive the eighteenth year of his life again and again and again. What was his mistake you may wonder? He courted an enchantress and cast her away. Spurned due to this and seeking revenge, she curses him. The curse can only be lifted when he finds true love.
Doesn't this sound like a typical fairy tale but with the roles reversed? The prince has to find his princess. However, nothing is as easy as this explanation and this is not just any fairytale. In this new age re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast, the author brings to us a new age spin on things. Once the curse begins, the prince has the duration of the autumn season to find his true love. If that doesn't happen, he turns into a monster and becomes quite dangerous.
The author brings to us a tale of sorrow and grief that is hidden behind the walls of the castle and unknown to the people of the kingdom. The only story that the people know is that their king seems to have abandoned them. The Prince's guard is the only other person around and the only one granted with the ability to move from this time/place to the present day Earth and bring back girls for the Prince to court.
During one such situation, we are introduced to Harper. Harper witnesses a kind of kidnapping and tried to stop it. It is in this situation that she is brought back to Rhen's world. The author then brings to us a wonderful tale of friendship, loyalty and eventually love. The characters are well developed and you cannot help but fall in love with them and their story. If I continue to write more, I will only gush about the story and reveal all the plot twists. To avoid that I will stop here and conclude.
A very well thought out book, this is a must read for all! I cannot wait for Book 2 and I am sure most of you will feel the same.
Here are a few things I didn't like about it
- The "She is not like the other girls" trope. I just don't like that. Although Harper never said it herself, Rhen does quite a few times.
- While reading a chapter I often got confused whether I was reading Harper's POV or Rhen's. It was difficult to tell them apart.
Other it's a good book. I would highly recommend it.
Harper, a normal girl who lives with her brother and a sick mother in Washington, DC was accidentally taken into Rhen's world by Grey. Powerful armies surround the Emberfall to capture the throne. Everyone in Emberfall believes that Harper will help them.
I am overwhelmed even while writing this review. I am so much in love with this book. This is the retelling of Beauty and the Beast and who will not love that? The story line is fantabulous. I can't wait until I get my hands on the next book of the series. The characters are adorable. Harper was so motivational. The ending was extraordinary. This is going to be one of my favorite books. I loved everything about this book even the big acknowledgement written by the author. The way she thanked the readers impressed me❤. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. If you love The beauty and the beast, do pick this book and explore the new twists and turns
The story starts with Commander Grey looking for a suitor for his prince Rhen in the present day Washington DC. On his mission, he finds a woman and tries to take her with him. On seeing this sight, a girl named Harper while waiting for her brother witnesses this man forcefully taking a woman with him. Outraged by this, she starts to fight him in order to protect the woman. This leads Grey taking her instead of the previous girl to his world i.e. the kingdom of Emberfall which is a parallel world to the present day Washington DC.
I knew from the beginning that Harper will end up falling in love with Rhen. However, the character of Harper is so believable and her actions are so similar to any ordinary city girl. The book has beautifully captured the journey of Harper from being scared and disoriented to becoming this fierce princess who takes the safety of the people in Emberfall as her responsibility. I loved Harper so so so much.
I liked Grey too. He is the personification of sacrifice and honour. He has been the greatest strength and supporter of Rhen without hoping for anything in return. I also loved the relationship that Harper and Grey shared.
Rhen’s journey has been described so beautifully as well. From being this smart and romantic Prince and turning into this beast, the fears revolving inside the mind of Rhen were touching in the story.
I will give the book a 4.5 stars. I am not giving it five stars because when I reached the middle of the book, I felt a few 50-60 pages a little dragged. Apart from that it’s a wonderful read.
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️+ .5
Top reviews from other countries
In terms of the style, this is written (in classic YA style) in the first person present tense. I dislike novels in the present tense - there’s a reason why this isn’t generally used: the past tense is far more natural to the reader when a story is being recounted. However, I can cope with it if it’s not overdone, but this writer is not as skilled as she could be and there is far too much unnecessary ‘I did this’ and ‘I said that’ going on. It’s perfectly possible to write dialogue without constantly interjecting who is saying what. The author also falls into the trap of describing stage directions which add to the word count to no purpose, slowing the action down. Everyone is constantly mentioning their sighs and we don’t need to have every gesture described - leave something to the imagination please!
The book also alternates the POV from heroine to hero in every chapter which I HATE. Alternating POV can work in skilled hands, but swapping every chapter puts the author into a straight jacket that doesn’t serve the needs of the story. In order to be really successful at it, you also need the skill to write very different characters who think differently which is very rarely the case. The other reason I really hate this is because it removes all dramatic tension. In a romance, for instance, (which this book is, I assume, at least in part), the thrill comes from one person not knowing what the other is feeling. It’s those small gestures, things left unsaid, hesitations, etc. that give the clues that maybe they are falling in love. In a first person narration you are along the ride with one person realising what their own feelings are and wondering about the other. In this POV swapping style there’s no mystery and romance is instantly dead.
In terms of the heroine, the hero seemed to think she was really smart but I don’t know why. There was one point where the hero was telling other characters ‘secrets’ which he really wanted them to gossip about so word would get around, which was super obvious to the reader. She was there the whole time, and indeed (it was his POV) he commented on how alertly she was listening and what a great ally she was. Then later she needed him to explain to her that he wanted people to whisper these secrets around - she completely hadn’t understood what he was doing. There was other cliche stupid stuff she did later and that’s what really made me stop reading as I couldn’t be bothered following along with her humourless idiocies. Also, at one point she slaps the hero’s face for no good reason apart from the fact that the author has no doubt seen this cliche in hundreds of films and thought this was a sign of a strong heroine. In fact it is assault and the only excuse for that kind of thing is if the other person is physically attacking you first. Please Brigid Kemmerer, have a think about whether that is really acceptable in this day and age. A truly strong heroine would not randomly physically assault men because she’s a bit upset.
I did get as far as chapter 29 which is pretty much halfway through. I had hoped that the characters and story would prove engaging enough to overlook the stylistic faults but they didn’t so this is a DNF for me.
Harper is one of those characters that you don’t have a choice but love them. She fights for what she believes in and is not afraid to stand up to anyone. She is not afraid to wear a dress and play the part of a true lady either and embracing her feminine side. It really stood out to me this scene when she turned around and said that she was born with her injuries and she will die with her injuries, so they need to teach her how to work with that and for me that was so empowering. She is not flawless either; with the best intentions she makes mistakes and is not afraid to own up to that.
Rhen, the Crown Prince of Emberfall, seems to be the typical brooding ya hero at first glance, however, as the story progresses, we get to learn a lot more about him and I cannot begin to say how much I love him. His interactions with Harper were refreshing and made me very happy inside. He might seem uncaring, cold and aloof, but he actually has the ability to empathise and see things from a completely different perspective and I found myself many times agreeing with this opinions. He and commander Grey have a brilliant relationship and I loved their banter and camaraderie. All the supporting characters I felt they were fleshed out enough for their roles.
The plot was faced paced and kept me turning the pages; I read this book in two days. The writing was very rich and easy to read. The characters had unique voices and I really appreciated the relationships following a natural, realistic progression. The ending also made my heart skip a bit and I am really excited to see what the author will come up with next.
I enjoyed this book very much, I basically devoured it on two days. I totally recommend it if you like ya fantasy and especially Beauty and the Beast retellings; this is one of the good ones!
A Curse So Dark and Lonely combines many of my favourite book tropes. It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast - a fairytale with potential to be problematic, what with the kidnapping and the Stockholm Syndrome romance. Kemmerer avoids the issue by having her Belle - Harper, a girl from our world - be a fierce, independent kind of character who's more ready to train in the art of throwing knives with the prince's guard than she is to swoon.
I really liked Harper for a lot of reasons, but most importantly she's a character with Cerebral Palsy. But while it does affect her, it's not a central issue in the book - it's just part of who she is, and I still don't see enough of this in fiction.
The ticking clock device of this chance to break the curse being the last, combined with the slow burn romance between Rhen and Harper made this so difficult to put down. My only slight criticism would be the fact that the bad guy - the enchantress Lilith - doesn't get much screen time or development. She's super evil. That's about the extent of it. It doesn't matter so much for the story, and from the little bits of her backstory peppered throughout the narrative, I get the sense she's going to come much more to the fore in the next book. And I trust Kemmerer to deliver on that front.
Overall, a really tense, fast paced and often romantic read, with good representation and characters I can't wait to spend more time with. Highly recommended.
Firstly I want to say how much I loved Harper having mild cerebral palsy and showing the range that this condition has. I appreciated how this was woven into the story, navigating her limitations but actually focusing how she could smash physical boundaries. Her tenacity, strength and fierce loyalty made her a likable heroine.
Rhen was vaguely likeable but he didn’t move beyond that really. I felt like I got to know Grey much better and came to enjoy his character. My suspicion is that this was just one long book setting up a cluster of a love triangle…anyone join me in this hunch? There was a lack of connection between Rhen and Harper (I get that this is some of the plot but still) and there was definitely more spark between Harper and Grey. I think I wanted to feel more connection in the platonics as well as the romantics of this tale too.
The story had ebb and flow with a lack of consistent pacing but it did really pick up towards the final third and I felt more involved and read more avidly. It was a strong ending, ensuring that I will return for more from this series, even with the triangular-shaped plot.
I have enjoyed Brigid Kemmerer’s contemporary reads but this delve into fantasy wasn’t my favourite. Beauty & the Beast is a beloved fairy tale and I have enjoyed it being retold but something was missing here and I will have to stand out from the mass love a little on this one.
In this story, the prince, Rhen, is cursed by a witch to find true love before he can turn into a savage beast and destroy Emberfall (his kingdom) and his people. It sounds easy enough but there is one twist to it, he must find a girl to love him before the end of a season (roughly three months). So far three hundred seasons have past and he still couldn't break that curse, because he seems too arrogant and the girlS he chooses fear him too much when they see him turn into a monster. The only person close to him is Gray, his last remaining loyal soldier. That is until Harper, a young teenager from Washington, DC, who Gray kidnaps and brings by mistake to Emberfall, for a new season. Confused at first, Harper slowly begins to get a grip on where she is and what is happening and while she does not trust the two men in whose company she finds herself, she wants to help break the curse and save Rhen's kingdom (of course, she is unaware that Rhen can turn into a monster and that, in reality, she should fear him).
I loved Harper's bravery, even if sometimes she acted on impulse and was a bit reckless. Harper has cerebral palsy which, following several surgeries and other treatments in childhood, causes her to limp. But that doesn't deter her only makes her fight harder. And Rhen is the perfect broody hero, he is a broken soul, prayed on by an evil Witch. He is overwhelmed by guilt because his people suffer because of his curse. But underneath it all, he is gentle and caring and my heart broke for him so many times while reading this book. Also Gray was definitely an interesting character, intriguing and mysterious, always willing to sacrifice for his prince but there was something in his actions and his bearing that made me think there's more to him than meets the eye.
Told from dual POV, which I enjoyed a lot, this story started off slow but by the end, the action hit in full force. The world-building was great, the plot had some twists and turns and was definitely angsty and suspenseful. I wanted more romance, though. I liked the interactions between Harper and Rhen (and I think they make a great couple), but they were too scarce, and I felt like she spent to much time in Gray's presence, to the point that I almost thought that there was a spark between them. The ending left me confused about whether Harper loves Rhen or not, but I guess I'll find more answers in the next book of the series.
There's a lot of gory stuff here, from the hacking, stabbing, and devouring to a sadistic villainess who makes her victim spit blood just for the fun of it. But I enjoyed it a lot, and I can recommend it to anyone who loves Beauty and the Beast retellings!