A Curse so Dark and Lonely
Release date: January 2019
# 1 in series
Synopsis from GoodReads
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.
Why I was interested:
It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast!
What I Liked:
First up, I really liked the disability representation in this book. Harper, our female lead, has cerebral palsy, and a side character, Jamison, is an amputee. I really felt that Brigid Kemmerer portrayed disabilities in general both realistically and sensitively. Harper’s cerebral palsy obviously affects her, and she’s aware of her limitations, but she doesn’t let it stop her from living. As a person with disabilities myself, I really appreciated that Harper’s cerebral palsy was a part of her, but wasn’t her defining feature. I think this message is really important, and sadly is not something I come across a lot in literature.
I liked the twist on original story which meant that Rhen was human most of the time, and only became a beast at the end of each season. Rhen and Harper also weren’t confined to living alone in the castle together. I think it was quite a smart decision, because it allowed Rhen and Harper to develop through their interactions with a whole cast of side characters, not just each other. These two points also completely sidestepped the issues of bestiality and Stockholm Syndrome that people often find disturbing or uncomfortable in Beauty and the Beast.
I liked the development of the romantic relationship between Rhen and Harper. They built their relationship slowly on foundations of respect and understanding. I also appreciated that while their characters experienced growth over the course of the book, they really stayed true to their personalities. I love consistent characters, and Kemmerer really pulled through for me.
To sum up, I thought the writing was lovely, the plot was solid, and the characters were great.
What I disliked:
I really think this would have been more successful as a standalone novel. I wasn’t that impressed with the twist that is used to lead on to the next book. As soon as it was hinted at, I picked it, and I just groaned. In my head I’m saying ‘Nooo, don’t do it. Don’t go there!’ But it went there. Honestly, the end is really what bumped down the star rating, and I probably won’t pick up the next book, because I just don’t care enough to find out what happens. Most of the story wrapped up, so I’m happy to leave it at that.
I also felt that the worldbuilding as a whole was a bit lacking. Emberfall could have been really contrasted with Washington D.C., where Harper is from, but a few days after reading A Curse so Dark and Lonely, I can’t picture the setting at all. Besides the curse, nothing about the world and the history of Emberfall has stuck with me.
My only other slight disappointment was with the main villain, Lillith. She was the stereotypical crazy witch character. I just sort of wanted a bit more from her than sadism and a bad temper. I guess I just like my villains to have more substance these days.
Do you like Beauty and the Beast retellings? Have you read A Curse so Dark and Lonely? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!