I received an eARC from Bloosbury Kids UK, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Title: A Curse so Dark and Lonely
Author: Bridgid Kemmerer
Release date : 29/1/2019
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 34
(see breakdown below)
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.
I am still in two minds about this book, while the pages kept turning and I really enjoyed the reading experience, there was just something missing for me. While this is a fantastically unique retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story it ended up as a somewhat average read for me.
We started with such an interesting concept, almost sort of a reverse of Enchanted where Harper from Washington DC with her own world of problems finds here self sucked into a fantasy land. It seemed the perfect combination. However, for me it just fell a bit short. There was very little in the way of world building. Magical aspects were mentioned in passing but never explored so no feeling of the realm of Emberfell was ever really established, which is a shame as it could have really turned this book into a five star. The lack of descriptions just makes the world feel like it just materialised intsead of having the rich history that the author is trying to imply. There is also zero explanation of where this world sits in relation to our own, in fact it is brushed off with a hand wave and that is to me somewhat disappointing.
Unfortunately I also felt that some of the characters were underdeveloped and 2 dimensional, the villain was lack lustre and we never really felt in control to me. There were also so many interesting side characters we just didn’t get much about, Noah (the boyfriend of Harper’s brother) was just a surprising character but he only appeared in the last 100 pages of the book and we never fully got a sense of who he is.
The saving grace was Harper herself, she was so tenacious and vibrant that she was what kept the pages turning. While I cannot speak for the Creibal palsy representation, I liked the inclusion of it within the story. I appreciated that it wasn’t heralded as something for her to overcome and conquer but instead just a facet of her life as a whole. There was also Grey who I found more interesting than Rhen the Prince, I found myself routing for him more than anyone else. We did get snippets of his back story but still not enough to be fully satisfied. We also get chapters from Rhen’s perspective and while it does forward the story nicely I found his flip-flopping emotions a little difficult to follow. I feel this was due to the underdevelopment of the Villian and her backstory which was an integral part of the challenges faced by Rhen.
I honestly was not sold by the first half of this book. It was very slow paced and appeared to just be a standard Beauty and the Beast story. From the first 100 pages I couldn’t see how a 500 page novel could be made. I was wrong! The story takes a great turn and we get almost a heist style story, an adventure to save a kingdom at any cost. This was fun and I would have happily carried on those aspects and forgoe the romantic plot line. The action scenes we finally get are great but rushed. They involve characters who I felt are a bit to quick to accept what is happening and this again is due to the lack of worldbuilding.
I was unaware this was a series until the epilogue and while it sets up a potentially interesting plot line I kind of felt it caused the ending of this book to fade to nothing and that just didn’t do it justice. Again I am in two minds, I liked this story enough to keep turning the pages and reading on to how it resolved but I was also left with not really feeling anything for the characters and how it resolved. I will most likely give the second in the series a try but I don’t know if I would rush to pre-order. It’s more of a nice find on the two for one tables at Waterstones that I would happily pass time with, than a great need to return to the world. A curse so dark and lonely is by no means a bad book it is just not going to make my personal favourites.
ENDING – 5
STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 6
ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 4
PLOT – 6
ENJOYMENT – 7
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