A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Cursebreakers #1
TRIGGER WARNING: cancer, kidnapping, threat of sexual assault, gore, violence, off-page parental death
Fall in love.
Break the curse.
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.
Break the curse.
Save the kingdom.
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall … and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.
So, as a kid, Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movies, and I couldn’t pass up a retelling. Especially not one that has disability representation. But I was kind of curious to see how I’d like it, since it seemed to be the kind of book that people either loved or hated.
The story is told from both Rhen and Harper’s POVs, and I was all about that. I know not everyone really likes stories with multiple POVs, but when this technique is done well I feel like I get better insight into the story. Rhen and Harper both have very different character voices, so that I always knew who was speaking, and never lost track of who the narrator was.
I loved that Harper’s character HAS a disability, but that the disability doesn’t define her. While her brother may underestimate her because of it, cerebral palsy isn’t something that is even on the radar in Emberfall — at first they think she has an injury, but when she explains it to him, he allows her to define her limits and capabilities. And that’s that! Her disability is just a part of her, rather than it being a major part of the plot. As a person with a disability, I found it very easy to identify with a character who is still a heroine, even if she has a physical disability. And it’s especially nice to see a female protagonist who isn’t scared to get her hands dirty and fight for what she wants and feels is right.
“‘I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.’”
The pacing of the story was perfect for me. It’s a fairly thick book, but there’s enough action that there weren’t any parts that dragged. There’s the main plot, but there’s layers to it. It’s clear that there’s things being held back, and dropped like breadcrumbs throughout the story so that there isn’t an info dump at any point. There’s plenty of action as well, and an enemies to lovers plot (well, of course there is, otherwise it wouldn’t be a Beauty and the Beast retelling).
I’m glad to be joining the club of people who love the book, and I’m definitely pleased that I got the second book in the series as well. I rarely get the second book before I’ve even read the first, but I just had a good feeling about this one. I’m super excited to start reading it!
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 14
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars