Title: Once Upon a Broken Heart
Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart #1
Release Date: 30/9/2021
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 35
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free eARC copy from ,via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
From Goodreads: Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.
But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…
If you are a fan of Garber’s Caraval series you will adore this book. It very much takes place in the same world and some of our favourite characters pop up in the story. The book starts concurrently with the events of Book 3 of the Caraval series, Finale, and then progresses after. Fan’s of Jacks will be ecstatic as he plays a very big role in this story and is just as sassy as he was in the Caraval series.
I wouldn’t suggest starting this series if you are not familiar with the previous series. A lot of worldbuilding is lacking as it would be repetition of lore from that series and there are multiple references to the events of the final book that it would spoil the story for those that have not read Caraval first. I kind of found the worldbuilding a little disappointing when compared to Caraval. We were visiting new cities and countries of this world yet we didn’t really get much description of these new spaces. The new Lore and mythology we encountered was fascinating but we only really scratched the surface of it all as it really felt this was more building towards the second book in the series to reveal all. The world itself is really magical and I really would have liked more time getting to explore all the magical elements that were motioned. While a lot were pre-existing in the series we saw them in new lights or we had only had the briefest of glimpses previously and it would have been fun to get deeper explanations of them.
The pacing was also a little off for me. It felt like we skipped over exciting events but then spent time languishing around periods of time where there wasn’t very much happening. This just made me feel the exciting events lacked detail. However, the plot was fun, I loved that we got a little bit of girl detective, unlikely team solve a murder in the middle, this was such a fun section. I really wish the ending packed more punch. While we got deep hints as to what might happen in book two, the resolution of this story was very quiet and sedate compared to the rest of the plot and that left it a little disappointing. The characters, particularly Evangeline, make this such a fun read. She does read a little like Scarlett from Caraval as she does start out with the same naivety, but she progresses through that a lot quicker and by the end of the book I really loved her sass and confidence.
I enjoy Garber’s writing, and while I am not fully in love with either this or Caraval I still find them such entertaining reads. It so lovely to just be swept away by a fun magical story, to anticipate the next part of the story and to smile all the way through. This book delivers on the entertainment factor.