YA Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1)

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 3/5

I wasn’t sure that a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast would be my kind of book, but several people recommended it, so I grabbed a bargain copy and started reading. And to begin with, I still wasn’t sure. Nothing much happened in the first half of the book. The story seemed to be treading water – establishing the characters, but not going anywhere. I was tempted to give up, until I passed the middle of the story, and suddenly discovered that I couldn’t put it down.

Harper, a girl from modern-day Washington DC, finds herself in the fairy-tale land of Emberfall. She’s been kidnapped in an attempt to break a curse placed on Crown Prince Rhen. All she has to do is fall in love with him, and he won’t change into a monster at the end of the season – but she’s the three hundred and twenty-seventh girl he’s tried to win over, and the rest have all failed.

The first half of the book feels less like a story than a sequence of events. I’m glad I kept reading, because when the events and the context come together, the intrigue kicks off and the stakes are raised for all the characters. When Harper starts to engage with the politics and people of Emberfall, and to see that she could make a difference, the book changes course and the story becomes much more engaging.

Harper is an interesting character. She has a minor disability, but she doesn’t let it define her. She is strong-willed, brave, and determined to fnd her way back to DC. The Crown Prince and his guard constantly tell her that she’s not like the other girls, who played the game and waited to fall in love. She takes action where she sees the opportunity, and she does not accept her role in the breaking of the curse.

Rhen is also interesting, but frustratingly bad at communicating with Harper. While half the chapters are narrated from his point of view, none of the depth the reader can see is evident to Harper, in the earlier chapters she narrates. She can only see the arrogant prince, used to ordering people around and keeping himself hidden in the castle. It takes a painfully long time for her to to understand the challenges he is facing, and to see that he is trying to protect her, and his people.

By the end of the book, I cared about Harper, Rhen, and the guard, and I cared about what happened to the people of Emberfall. The final chapters bring everything together in a genuinely dangerous and exciting finale, and put in place a really interesting twist for the sequel. The first-person present-tense narration suits the story, making the adventure and danger more immediate and real, and the twists in the story ensure that the reader can never guess what the next chapter will bring. I ended up enjoying the book, so if you find it slow to begin with, stick with it – it gets better!

Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely? What did you think of the story? And what about the characters – Harper, Rhen, and Grey? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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