A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2) blurb:
HARPER has freed Prince Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. But all is not well in Emberfall: rumours are rife that there is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but a fraud.
GREY has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted…
Book 1: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Remember how I said this would be my most anticipated book for 2020? Well, let me tell you that it did NOT disappoint (and it has even squeezed itself onto my top 10 books of 2019, knocking out some fierce competition).
So, what do you need to know? Well, just like ACSDAL, this story is told from two perspectives in alternating chapters, and for all you Grey fans out there, YOU’RE IN LUCK. Yup, our delightfully stoic Grey is front and centre in this amazingly gripping novel. And I think you’re going to be in for a treat with the second POV as well: Lia Mara, first daughter of Karis Luran, the evil queen from Syhl Shallow.
I really loved this book. Probably MORE than I loved ACSDAL, and I really, really loved it. YA fantasy is going from strength to strength these days, and Kemmerer is just as much at the front of this, as Bardugo, Black, Maas and all the others are. This book really smashes it out of the park.
Honestly, I thought Grey was a bit stiff in the first one – Rhen had absolutely stolen my heart, but after this, I want it back so I can dust it off and hand it to Grey instead. Grey is formidable in this story. He’s strong, he fights for good, he’s trying to keep the peace at all costs. And he stands up for others. He provides protection and encouragement, which is far better than fighting on their behalf.
Lia Mara is the princess you didn’t know that you needed. She’s not the heir to the throne, she’s calm and good and sweet, but also strong. She’s measured and she loves her sister so much it hurts your soul. She wants to protect her people, but not at the cost of hurting others. Lia Mara is the girl you want to be your best friend. She’s the girl we all should be. I love Harper, but I might love Lia Mara more.
In terms of other characters, there’s an amazing cast of different people who all want different things, but work together regardless. Jake and Noah play a much bigger part in this story. I thought Jake was a bit of a meathead in the first book – I wasn’t quite sure what lovely, gentle Noah saw in him. I get it now. You’ve also got Tycho and Iisak who are such opposites and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next book. And then there’s Nolla Verin, Lia Mara’s sister, who we are all tormented by!!
The world building continues to go from strength to strength. We learn more about Emberfall and its people, but we also get to see Syhl Shallow for the first time and learn about their culture. I loved how Kemmerer shows you the differences, but then also shows you the similarities – their humanity. It’s such a great way to turn enemies to allies, and your allies to enemies.
Finally, I need to talk about the plot. But also, I can’t talk about the plot. On one hand, not much happens, but on the other hand, SO MUCH FREAKING HAPPENS. I’m honestly trying not to scream. (Thankfully I buddy read this so I did have someone to scream with during all those key points. Friends, find a buddy when you read this. Someone you can scream into the abyss with. If you can’t find a buddy, feel free to DM me on insta!!) There are sections where it’s a bit slow moving, but even the quiet parts add to the development of the story. Each little thing all add up to several big things, and you can’t fault that.
Errr… nothing, except that I need the final book immediately.
Actually, that’s not true. Rhen belongs over here in the bad section. And I will talk about this further in the spoiler section below.
Yes, yes… I’m probably being a bit over the top. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sold on Lia Mara until about a third of the way through, but she seriously is an amazing character regardless.
I genuinely believe that you need a scream buddy when you read this though. It’s got so many parts where you’re kind of like “HOLY CRAP – DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN?!” that it’s so much better when you can literally ask those questions.
As far as sequels go, this one hits it out of the park. I’m so excited to see where this goes for the ending, and I have 100 predictions, but also 0 predictions. It’s rare that you’re faced with a choice but you like both sides (almost) equally.
And that epilogue?! cue screaming into the abyss for 12 months
ENDING SPOILER THOUGHTS DO NOT CLICK UNLESS YOU HAVE READ
Errrr… So, Rhen is a total bastard and does not deserve Harper’s love. Don’t get me wrong, the epilogue absolves him somewhat, but that whipping scene happened BEFORE Lilith returned. He needs to go shove his head in an oven.
I genuinely hope that Rhen can see past his fear and rely on Grey like he used to. And that Grey and Lia Mara can unite the kingdoms and rule in peace and fairness.
And even though Jake and Noah have said they’ll stay, maybe they should send Rhen over to “Disi” and let him fend for himself for a while. Seriously, I’m so cranky at what he did in this book!! Trying to break Grey by going through Tycho when the poor kid hasn’t done anything wrong (although, we don’t know his backstory…) is just mean, and there was no excuse for it. It was brutal and Harper should leave his sorry ass.
Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing me with a free copy of this book to review.
All opinions are my own.