A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Review By: Aurora
On Sale: January 2019
Honestly, I sped through this book so fast, I’m still processing everything. I read it all in a single day, but I couldn’t help it! I just couldn’t bring myself to set it down! I was obsessed with the contrast that was drawn between the world we know and the fantasy realms we wish we did. I’ve read so few books that are able to mash together reality and fantasy without becoming a mess. The whole parallel universe (or other side) idea was extremely clever to do it since it brings on a completely different meaning to the idea of a world beyond our own.
Crown Prince Rhen has been cursed by a powerful sorceress. He’s doomed to spend season after season attempting to break the curse by making girls fall in love with him, but each time he has failed. Come the end of the failed seasons, he transforms into a monster that ravages his kingdom. Harper on the other hand lives in the very mythical city of Washington DC with her own struggles of loan sharks, a dying mother, and a brother forced into acting as a debt collector. When she steps in to protect another girl from being kidnapped, she finds herself taken to the kingdom of Emberfall instead. Imagine having all the knowledge and experience of the regular world in an enchanted one and try not to be too shocked.
It’s kind of a Beauty and The Beast retelling in the sense that it has a monstrous curse that needs to be broken by love, but it’s a bit darker than the Disney version. It definitely starts along that path, but changes into something else with the scheming, foreign invasions, and death. Some of the usual plot points are still present, but there’s so much more to it. And I won’t give anything away, but I am happy to report that the end doesn’t happen exactly as expected.
I admit that I’m usually not much a fan of the post-kidnapping love trope, because you know, Stockholm syndrome. Even so, there was something about this story that I couldn’t help but love. Maybe it was all the dancing and card playing.
Seriously though, It’s not uncommon for me to despise main characters, but I think for once in a long time, I didn’t get sick of them. Sure, they had their moments where I just wanted to shout “really? You’re doing/saying that?” But overall, I kind of liked them. Both Rhen and Harper (and Commander Grey) weren’t overly arrogant or unreasonable, so thank god for that!
As the second book I’ve read by Brigid Kemmerer (the other being Letters to the Lost), I have to say I’m impressed. So far, her characters always manage to find that perfect balance between strength and vulnerability. You want to read and believe the story because you want those characters to exist. I’m already dreading having to wait over a year for the sequel that’ll bring them back.
But if you’ve been looking for a fantasy novel with a touch of reality, a background of magic, and a lot of intense fight scenes, then this one’s for you. I’m sure you’ll already be captivated within the first few pages.