Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Edition: Hardcover, 477 Pages
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!
‘I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.’Freya, A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Initial Thoughts & Pacing
Good evening, everyone! I adore retellings, and A Curse So Dark and Lonely is an extremely compelling retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I couldn’t put it down once I got to the last hundred pages, and I stayed up late last night to finish it even though I knew I’d have work this morning! This is the first book I have read by Brigid Kemmerer, and I certainly intend to read more of her work in the future.
Here are some reasons why I enjoyed this book so much:
- I loved Harper, Rhen, and Grey! (More on the characters later.)
- I was drawn in from the first chapter!
- The pacing in the first hundred pages and the final hundred pages is done particularly well. The story has quite an addictive quality in those parts.
- There are some moments that made me laugh aloud – mostly as a result of Harper’s origination from our modern D.C. (The people of Emberfall start referring to Harper as the “Princess of Disi,” and it is hilarious at first.)
- I think it is difficult to write a story that contains our modern-day world running parallel to a fantasy realm, but Kemmerer does this pretty well.
Rhen was right about choices. There are no easy choices. None.Harper, A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Characters & Romance
Here is a brief overview of some of the main characters:
- Harper is pulled out of our modern-day Washington, D.C. and sucked into the fantasy realm of Emberfall. She is quite spunky and fierce! She has cerebral palsy, but doesn’t tolerate people treating her badly.
- Rhen is a cursed prince who appears arrogant at first, but he truly cares about his people in his heart.
- Grey is Rhen’s guard commander. He hails from a farming background, and he is intensely loyal to the crown.
- I loved the romance between Harper and Rhen. It is a sweet slow-burn. Their banter is entertaining to read, and they really have to learn to trust each other.
- On the other hand, I felt that the feelings between Grey and Harper needed to be more fleshed out. It took me a while to catch on. As is, it feels as if he is only sort of a contender for her affections, but at the same time not a true suitor. It is as if the author perhaps wasn’t certain which direction to take their relationship in this first book or whether to go all the way through with it. I think their connection should have been emphasized more if attraction was the intention.
‘True love requires sacrifice. A willingness to place another’s life above your own.’Lilith, A Curse So Dark and Lonely
So why not a full 5 stars?
- The pace in the middle portion of the book slows down a bit (though not terribly), and I wasn’t as captivated as I was in the beginning and end.
- At times, Harper’s brother Jake acts like a jerk toward her, not believing that she is capable of accomplishing anything of significance.
- I was also hoping to learn more about Harper’s family/father and Jake’s arrangement with the loan shark.
- There is a scene with Harper’s mother that is kind of breezed over, and I think it could have been more impactful.
Overall, this book is a fantastic retelling, and my quibbles are minor. If you enjoy retellings, I would definitely recommend it! The ending kept me turning the pages, and I can’t wait to read the sequel next year! Happy reading 🙂
*Content Warnings: graphic fantasy violence (gory wounds/dismemberment/decapitation/etc.), suicide attempt, unwanted attentions forced onto a male character*