Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer



A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date - January 29, 2019
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  496 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
An instant New York Times Best Seller! In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

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.
Fairytale retellings are a weakness of mine. I love them and will pretty much read anything that comes to my attention. A Curse So Dark And Lonely is one of the best, if not THE best, Beauty and the Beast retellings I have had the pleasure of reading. Brigid Kemmerer captures the essence of the tale as old as time while making it entirely her own in so many ways.

The world of Emberfall is the foundation of the story. The curse bleeds into so many elements of the world Prince Rhen inhabits. Getting the world right was vital and Brigid Kemmerer nails it. The contrast between modern day Washington, DC and the fairytale world of Emberfall only serves to create the atmosphere this story needs in order to work.

This is a story of Harper finding her strength and her voice. She is used to people treating her a certain way and blossoms as she learns to rely on herself and trust in herself. She's smart, tenacious, and resilient. She has an inner strength that makes her one of the strongest characters in this novel. She is determined and that determination makes her formidable. She experiences a lot of growth during her journey. She comes into her own in a way that is inspiring and brave.

Rhen is a desperate prince. All he wants is to break the curse that dooms his kingdom. He, in typical Beauty and the Beast fashion, is a spoiled, arrogant young man who seems to not learn from his mistakes. His growth rivals that of Harper's own in this novel. He has a sweet soul (naturally) but getting to it takes some effort. Sympathy for him is woven into the story in believable ways and we get to spend time inside his head which also helps.

There are a bunch of side characters that light up the story. Grey, Rhen's commander of the royal guard, stands out as a character that people will flock to. His relationship with Harper is as vital to the story as her relationship with Rhen. Lilith, the sadistic enchantress, is deliciously evil and fun. I wish we had gotten inside her head a bit because I expect there is more to her than we get to see. There are other characters who enhance the story being told in a way that feels entirely natural.

The romance in Beauty and the Beast is always a little tricky to pull off. There is an element of Stockholm Syndrome to the entire relationship that can be portrayed very poorly. The elements I do not like about the romance are mostly nonexistent here. Rhen and Harper get to know each other gradually. The curse is unique from most others in retellings of Beauty and the Beast in that Rhen is in human form for most of each autumn season. He only takes the form of the beast towards the end which gives a much richer, more complex courtship to their relationship. Trust and respect are vital to their relationship and it drives any connection that may be forming between the two. I like that this novel doesn't offer a typical romance or friendship between them. It feels more authentic to me because every inch feels earned. It also isn't something that either of them trusts in. They struggle with unraveling what is real in a way that made their relationship crackle with realism.

The ending of this part of Harper's story will make the reader desperate to get their hands on the sequel. Brigid Kemmerer has set up a delicious tension for the second book and there is plenty to theorize about while waiting for the sequel to be released. It's the type of ending that only serves to reignite the reader's desire to return to this world as quickly as possible.

Fans of fairytale retellings will delight in this unique take on a tale they are all too familiar with and those who are exhausted by the retelling boom will delight in the imaginative differences woven into this story. It's a more, perhaps surprisingly, modern take on the story and filled with characters who work their way into your heart.

2 comments:

  1. I've loved all the Brigid Kemmerer books I've read so I'm def interested in this one! It sounds liek a well imagined and unique read even in an oversaturated genre - so many retellings! I'm def intrigued!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Giselle,

      It is a fantastic retelling. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Let me know if you do read it and what you thought!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete

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