Title: A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers #1)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: Retellings, YA Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Date published: January 29th 2019
Page Count: 484
The story is told in alternating perspectives between Harper and Rhen. The story is loosely based of the story of Beauty and the Beast. It’s quite an interesting take in how Brigid sets up the world and her decision to have Harper come from Washington DC to a magical world. But I think it gave it a nice twist.
Although I wouldn’t say I was very invested in the romance for the majority of the book, I was definitely invested in the growth and development of the characters. In fact, I believe the greatest strength of the book in my opinion were the characters. They’re distinct and have their own motives.
“Rhen … He doesn’t act like a man who’s trying to fall in love. He plays this whole thing like a game, where underneath his pretty words is a man full of cunning and guile. He acts like a tethered animal that’s learned the limits of its chain — but knows how to lure a prey to its death.”
Rhen was our prince in the story with his own complex back story, but Grey was my favourite character in the book. Honestly, at first I wasn’t sure what his purpose in the story was (he was the Royal Guard protecting Rhen for sure, but implicitly, was he a wing man or a catalyst for love triangle or whattttt?), but it soon didn’t matter because I was just in love with his character. Sure Harper was the main witty character who would find her inner strength and fall in love with the new world she was trapped in just as Rhen was a cold-hearted prince who would soon find himself falling helplessly in love, but Scary Grey had a whole different/unpredictable story arc. Despite being a secondary character, Grey had more complexity and intrigue. Harper was selfless and family-oriented with a tad bit of stubbornness. Rhen was constantly described as cunning and calculating. But the author was never able to fully put a finger on Grey. His unwavering loyalty made him a heroic character throughout the book. Also, his sarcasm juxtaposed with his gravity provided a nice comedic relief from all the drama that the two main characters stir up. (Imagine Jason from Lunar Chronicles but a hundred times more likeable, in my unbiased opinion 😉)
His voice turns almost lethal, and in the dim light of the hallway, Grey’s eyes seem to darken. “My duty is to bleed so he does not. And now,” he says, “my duty is to bleed so you do not.”
Making characters fall in love is undoubtedly the hardest part of writing. While I found the interactions between Rhen and Harper awkward and stiff, but given the disposition that the two were in, I feel like the author did a great job at playing out the cards she was dealt with (**wink wink if you’ve read the book**).
This followed the Beauty and the Beast is a unique way and followed the story line until the last half where Bridget Kemmerer takes her liberties to change the story and add the additional plot. I loved it.
The one thing lacking in this book was the world building. I didn’t feel fully immersed in the story and had a vague idea of what Emberfall was like using my own imagination and inspiration from stories like Ella Enchanted. I hope that the sequel builds more on it.
“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”
Read this if you enjoyed Cinder (the last part (ie. the twist) eerily reminded me of Cinder)