A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
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.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Published on January 29th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy
Hardcover, 496 pages
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast tale featuring a dark curse placed upon a prince which forces him to relive his eighteenth year over and over again. The curse turns him into a vicious beast at the year's end while dooming him to repeat acts of violence and destruction until the curse is broken by true love.
What sets A Curse So Dark and Lonely apart from other retellings is the deeper insight into the far-reaching effects the curse has not only the prince but his kingdom and its people as well.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely builds a vivid picture of life beyond its castle walls. There's a world out there that feels real and tangible. Waring kingdoms are threatening while Emberfall's own townspeople are suffering the consequences of the curse with an absent king and crumbling kingdom.
A story can only be told through its characters and Kemmerer writes her's with passionate, compelling, and unique voices.
I felt that Rhen, Harper and Grey's characters were equally enjoyable and thought they each brought something special to the story. Rhen is the tortured, dark hero. The prince who is made to pay over-and-over again for a mistake he made. Kemmerer places a terrible curse upon him where it not only forces him to relive his eighteenth year over and over until he breaks the curse, but he changes into a horrible beast which differs each time. The sadness and regret are palpable as the terrible deeds pile up—literally. The question of how do you make someone fall in love with a beast is heartrendingly and thoughtfully explored.
Harper steals the show as a vibrant and fierce heroine who doesn't let her cerebral palsy label her nor stop her from achieving what she sets her mind to. I liked the fact she is an American teen with real issues. Her mom is suffering from cancer and her brother is trying to keep their family together even if it means being on the wrong side of the law. She is captured by Rhen’s commander guard Grey from the streets Washington, DC and whisked away to a world enchanted and a prince cursed.
Through Harper’s eyes, we see the beauty and horror of the Kingdom of Emberfall and the curse placed on it. The longer she stays in the enchanted kingdom and with its people, the harder it is for her to remain unsympathetic to their plight. The torn feelings she experiences over wanting to return to her family versus staying and helping to break the curse is easily felt.
I fell completely over Grey’s character, maybe even more so than Prince Rhen. Grey is not only tasked with keeping the people of Emberfall safe from Rhen’s beastly transformations and rampages, but he is also the only human able to bring back girls from across the boundaries of the enchantment in order to break the curse which makes him so appealing in his vulnerability and stark loyalty. His relationship with Rhen and growing friendship with Harper are some of my favorite parts of the story.
In the End
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer would be a great addition to any YA fantasy enthusiast’s library, especially for fans of Beauty and the Beast retellings. The unique look into the repercussions of the curse on the kingdom Emberfall and its people, along with our main characters make it a compelling read. I’m definitely excited for more from the author and hope for a possible companion novel featuring Grey.