Flatlay photo of a paperback ARC of Once Upon a Broken Heart, surrounded by some autumn accents.

Once Upon a Broken Heart: Heartbreak, Curses, and Deadly Kisses

*I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my personal, honest opinions. Thank you.*

4/5 Stars

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher/Imprint: Flatiron Books

Edition: Paperback ARC, 406 Pages

Hardcover Publication Date: September 28, 2021

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!


Book Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Caraval, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.

Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy.

Book Review

‘I believe there are far more possibilities than happily ever after or tragedy. Every story has the potential for infinite endings.’

-Stephanie Garber, Once Upon a Broken Heart

Initial Thoughts

Hello, everyone! What did you read this past weekend? I finished reading my ARC of Once Upon a Broken Heart! Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for allowing me to participate in this blog tour! I’m very excited to finally share my thoughts with you all 🙂 

I think it can be difficult to manage expectations when it comes to books that receive SO much hype. Although I did not think this book had the 5-star oomph in my opinion, I still enjoyed it very much! Of course, I loved the fairy tale vibes throughout!

Check out some of the book’s other features:

  • Once Upon a Broken Heart is the start of a new series set in the same world as Caraval – though in a different part of it: The Magnificent North. (How “magnificent” is that name!)
  • As a huge fan of the Caraval trilogy, I was super excited to find out more about the Caraval world!
  • You don’t have to read the Caraval series first before OUABH, but I would recommend it if you want to avoid minor spoilers for the first series. The references will also hold more weight if you have read the Caraval books.
  • In this book, you’ll also find lots of heartbreak!
  • Plenty of love spells and curses!
  • A main character with pink hair!
  • Royal balls!
  • Enchanted arches!
  • Mysterious helms!
  • Fantastical wedding dresses!
  • Magic potions and poisons/poison tears!
  • Vampire lairs!
  • Whimsical, flowery writing!
  • Magical drinks called Fortuna’s Fantastically Flavored Water!
  • An ending with a twist! (More on the ending later.)
  • Most of all, The Prince of Hearts JACKS

It was said that every Northern tale had started as true history, but over time, the Northern story curse had twisted all the tales until only bits of truth remained.

-Stephanie Garber, Once Upon a Broken Heart

Characters & Romance

Flatlay photo of a paperback ARC of Once Upon a Broken Heart, surrounded by some autumn accents.
Flatlay photo of a paperback ARC of Once Upon a Broken Heart, surrounded by some autumn accents.

Here is a brief overview of the characters:

  • Evangeline Fox is the main female character. She is this heartbroken girl who will do anything to get her happy ending back. She goes so far as to ask the Prince of Hearts to stop the wedding between her stepsister Marisol and her first love Luc. I admired her ability to believe in other possibilities and not settling for what destiny had in store for her.
  • Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, is the male lead. He is the same mischievous Jacks from the Caraval series whose kiss is said to kill every girl he kisses. I loved that he called Evangeline a pet name – “Little Fox.” But I think it would have been cool to have chapters from Jacks’s perspective woven into the story. I was a little disappointed I didn’t get quite as much Jacks content as I had expected. Yes, he’s there, but we don’t really get to see inside his head, only Evangeline’s.
  • Marisol is Evangeline’s stepsister. Evangeline wishes to be closer to her, but things tend to complicate their relationship.
  • Luc is Evangeline’s first love, but I don’t really have much to say about him. He felt very one-dimensional in my opinion. There was a lot of telling rather than showing when it came to him. He hardly had any direct interactions with Evangeline in the book, as most of their relationship began before the events of the story. He is pretty much physically absent except for a scene in Part 3, and I didn’t wholly understand the connection to him that Evangeline felt.
  • I also didn’t ship Evangeline with the third potential love interest, so I didn’t feel entirely invested in those scenes, either. (In order to avoid spoilers, I won’t mention him by name.) Things moved very quickly with their relationship. But I also understand that this is more of a personal taste thing. Other readers may still ship them.
  • But give me all the Jacks and Evangeline content!!! I loved the scenes when Jacks and Evangeline were together. (Although, they actually spend a good amount of time apart.) I still wished for more interaction between them – especially at the end of the book.

There was something fantastically bewitching about the idea that a person’s destiny could change in one single, wondrous night.

-Stephanie Garber, Once Upon a Broken Heart

Final Thoughts

Despite how much I enjoyed this story, there is another reason why I didn’t give OUABH the extra fifth star. It’s another personal preference thing, but I wasn’t expecting vampires to be in this book. In most cases, vampires just aren’t my jam. But if you’re a huge fan of vampires, you’ll probably like those scenes!

Also, the ending does not provide a full sense of closure. Even though I thought the twist was interesting, there is still a lot that is not revealed in this first book. Like, what exactly is it that Jacks is after?? That question is killing me! Ugh. And is everything really as it seems?

I also wish there would’ve been more nights of the royal ball called Nocte Neverending. It felt like such an enchanting event, but it ended within a few short nights. I personally enjoyed the premise of Caraval a little more than the one in OUABH. The idea of a traveling magic show felt a bit more intriguing to me. (But again, this is another personal preference thing.) Maybe I would’ve enjoyed OUABH more if Nocte Neverending had been a bit longer.

Of course, I definitely want to read the sequel to see how things turn out. I also heard the author say that she added a scene to the final version that is not in the ARC, so I will definitely check that out, too, when my preordered copy arrives!

Overall, this is a must-read for fans of the Caraval series! Happy reading, everyone 🙂

*Content Warnings: Some actions performed by vampires that could be disturbing for some readers; poisonings; moments of passion (no sex).*

Copyright © 2021 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

About the Book’s Author

Stephanie's Headshots


Stephanie Garber is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Caraval series. Her books are published in over thirty languages.


Up Next on My TBR: Beast Boy Loves Raven + Vespertine (ARC)

4 thoughts on “Once Upon a Broken Heart: Heartbreak, Curses, and Deadly Kisses”

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