Book Review: A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY by Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4/5 stars
Series: Yes - book 1


a curse so dark and lonely.jpg

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But 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

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This was a book I was not expecting to like. I picked it up because I’ve heard so much about it, but it’s a beauty and the beast retelling so my expectations were that it would be two people slowly falling in love with a shaky plot shoved in to pad time and pretend it’s something more than simply a romance.

So yes, this book has a romance, but it’s more than that. The plot isn’t a shaky filler. Yes, it’s integral to the relationship’s progression, but it isn’t the reason either agree to save Emberfall. The entire point is to save the land – and I love the plan. It’s two people making the best of a frankly terrible situation, and putting their differences aside to find a way to save the kingdom that doesn’t rely on love – because love won’t solve their problems.

In fairy tales, love solves all but that’s so unrealistic it’s actually dangerous. Telling girls that if they just find their prince all will be fine?

The plan is brilliantly woven – a desperate idea that slowly morphs into a tangible hope, but always teetering wildly on that first, somewhat ill-advised lie. I loved how the fragility was there, acknowledging that it was all built on a lie.

There are several villains in the story, the terrifying Lilith (the enchantress who created the curse) and the foreign Queen. Lilith is the most present, the most intimidating until the confrontation with the queen. She was in absolute command of the room and flipped the tables with little effort. She will be such fun to see in the next book.

Harper has such spunk (I watched The Last Jedi last night, but it is the perfect word for her). She’s always fighting for what she believes is right, impulsive at times, and never cowed by what’s going on. She’s taken to a fairytale castle and attacks with a tire lever. She fights for a country that is not her own even when Rhen loses hope. She also has cerebral palsy and it never holds her back. It’s brought up occasionally, but never in a demeaning way.

Rhen took a little longer to warm too. He comes across as arrogant and entitled at first, but then his chapters reveal the mask he’s wearing and why.

I loved Grey’s character (and yes, it was spelt the British way, which meant I didn’t scratch my head trying to work out what gray was. Unlike most British-American spelling differences, this is one that trips me up every time.). He initially comes across as simply a devoted guard, but the layers are slowly peeled back to the far more complex man underneath (no more so when the nature of his ability is revealed). And the final chapter? I’m so glad he’ll be a POV character in the next book.

Read my reviews of other books by Brigid Kemmerer:

Cursebreakers (this series):

Forging Silver into Stars (chronologically after this series):

Defy the Night:

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