Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, is cursed. Forced to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he can only be freed if a girl truly falls for him, and after so many failures, his kingdom and its people are barely holding on.
Harper’s life has never been easy, but she’s learned to be tough enough to survive the streets of Washington, D.C. When she is sucked into Rhen’s world, nothing is as it seems. Powerful forces are standing against Emberfall… and it will take more than a broken curse to save it from utter ruin.
I was so so so excited to receive an early copy of this. A Curse So Dark and Lonely was one of my most anticipated books this year, outside of series that I had already commenced.
In case you can’t tell from the blurb, this was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but it was so much more than that as well. The one thing that the blurb doesn’t tell you, is that Harper has cerebral palsy. In case you’re not aware of what that is, cerebral palsy (CP) is a physical disability that affects movement and posture. CP affects people in different ways, some, like Harper, have a limp that is more pronounced when they are tired and/or sick. Others can be in wheelchairs or require the use of crutches. CP is a permanent condition that often starts during pregnancy, meaning those who are diagnosed with it have had it their entire lives. (You can find out more about it here, at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.)
This is primarily why I was excited about this book. A heroine in an action-based, fantasy novel, with a physical disability that she has had her entire life. It really could have gone either way, but I had high hopes that it wouldn’t be bad or demeaning. And I think Kemmerer did Harper justice.
There are three primary characters: Harper, Rhen and Grey.
Harper, of course, is our ‘Beauty’. She is brought into this other world with no explanation of how she got there or what is going on, and I think she handles it admirably. She is a fighter, which I especially love, as she is this way DESPITE the way everyone at ‘home’ treats her, which is how people with disability invariably end up being pigeon-holed. As disabled and helpless. Harper is good and kind and strong in more than a physical way. She’s strong of heart and mind.
Rhen is the absolutely spoiled brat that is at the heart of every ‘Beast’. He is selfish and contemptuous and arrogant, and to be honest, really just full of himself and rude. He was the perfect Beast. (If that attitude he has made you mark this book down, please go read the original because that is exactly how the Beast is supposed to be.) But, as with every Beast (yes, including Tamlin), he learns to temper his manners through what Beauty/Harper teaches him. Rhen’s ‘Beast’-mode is slightly different to the rest though. He starts off as human each season and gradually turns into the Beast, and each Beast is different.
Then there’s Grey. For ACOTAR fans, he’s probably the Lucien in the relationship, but he’s way better. Grey is loyal, but he’s just as weary as Rhen is of this curse. Forced to live the same season over again, just like Rhen, Grey is just as much cursed as the castle and the Prince. But Grey has his own secrets, and they are DEVASTATING.
I thought the world building was really well done. I mean, you don’t have to do much for our/Harper’s world, but Rhen’s world was described vividly, and I didn’t have any lingering questions about the magic or how/why only some people could jump between the two. I think Kemmerer did a really good job with that.
I am very much looking forward to the sequel, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, and I can’t believe I HAVE TO WAIT A WHOLE YEAR. *mildly obsessive screaming to follow*
Also, anticipate this book being mentioned in a BUNCH of Top 5 Tuesdays because I will squeeze this baby in where I can. LOVED IT. RECOMMEND IT. Go get it now, so you can also devour it and then scream into the abyss with me. It sounds better when there’s at least two of us.
Until next time, happy reading 😊📚
Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review.