Sunday, January 19, 2020

REVIEW: A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy Retelling
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Acquired: Purchased for my collection
Goodreads: ADD

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she's pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? 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.

Logic dictates that it should be easier to write a review for a book that you adored. That the words needed should flow forth from the very veins of your heart. The same heart that was captured and held and squeezed for literally every emotion you possess. But it's quite the opposite for me, and for many of you, I'm sure. I need to ensure that the words I use aren't simple words. I need to use words that will clearly convey how immediately you need to have A Curse So Dark and Lonely in your hands.

Harper was only trying to help a distressed stranger on the streets of DC, but success is futile as she is instead magically transported to the fantasy-land of Emberfall, where a cursed Prince is on a mission to reverse his unfortunate predicament. Prince Rhen has been reliving the 18th year of his life for more than 300 seasons, and with no family left alive, the only person he shares his misery (and his curse) with is his commander, Grey. Harper's accidental arrival in Emberball is met with frustration and confusion, which soon gives way to something Prince Rhen never thought he'd feel again: hope. Is the curse finally going to be broken? And if it is, will it be enough to save them all?

Intensely popular reads in the book community never fail to make me weary. Will I love it as much? Is the hype worth it? Let me be the millionth person to tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT. I have not been this invested and in awe of a YA fantasy book/series in a very, very long time. I went into it expecting to be entertained, but what I could have never predicted was writing that was purposeful and smart; a representation of a physical disability that was respectful and overwhelmingly empowering. Kemmerer did such a brave and interesting thing by bringing Harper's cerebral palsy into a fantasy world where this condition was unheard of and had the potential to be condemned, or scorned. But how she allowed the secondary characters to view it, and then subsequently how she allowed Harper to explain it was fiercely admirable. Her character work on a whole was satisfyingly layered and complex. No two sounded the same; I could have identified each one with my eyes closed and just their voices to guide me. The world of Emberfall was all-consuming and perfectly introduced, leaving just the right amount of room for more exploration in further installments. 

I would have been deeply content in my little beating heart if Kemmerer just ended A Curse So Dark and Lonely as a standalone before the last chapter, but OH how happy I am that she didn't. I literally cannot wait to get the next book in my hands. I may or may not have already ordered it as I type this (spoiler: I did).

Read if you like:

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
fairytale retellings  

Key themes: 
courage, strength, trust, physical disability, friendship


credit: (author page)

Brigid Kemmerer is the New York Times bestselling author of dark and alluring Young Adult novels like A Curse So Dark and Lonely, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost (Bloomsbury), as well as paranormal YA stories like The Elemental Series and Thicker Than Water (Kensington). A full time writer, Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her husband, her boys, her dog, and her cat. When she’s not writing or being a mommy, you can usually find her with her hands wrapped around a barbell.


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