Given the love for Brigid Kemmerer’s Beauty and the Beast retelling, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and the anticipation for the sequel, A Heart So Dark and Lonely, I decided to dive into the series during the summer. I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of A Heart So Fierce and Broken at Book Expo 2019, so I was able to binge read the first two books in the Cursebreakers series ahead of the second installment’s January 7, 2020, release.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely Summary (from the publisher):
Fall in love, break the curse.
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of 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.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely Thoughts
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
A Curse So Dark and Lonely reminded me of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses, with the major exceptions being its slightly urban fantasy twist and overall a simplified fantasy setting. It took me the first one hundred pages or so to fully get into this book. Much of this had to do with the fact that despite her princess of Disi act (such a funny take on D.C.), it took Harper a lot of time to adjust and understand the world of Emberfall.
Like many readers, I really appreciated that Harper had cerebral palsy, something that we do not see a lot in YA. Having cerebral palsy by no means affected her strong personality and charisma, but it did prevent her physically in some situations. This is an element, or at least having characters with different or similar health conditions, that would be cool across many other fantasies and YA books.
I found myself truly invested in the book in its last two hundred pages, with Harper and Rhen’s chemistry increasing and the stakes getting higher. However, despite that Brigid Kemmerer has said that the book does not feature a love triangle, it did feel like there was a love triangle to me, or at least hints of one. Even though some readers are over the love triangle trope, it’s been a while since I’ve read it and I enjoyed at least considering the chemistry between certain characters.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that A Curse So Dark and Lonely has a cliff hanger, but the ending will definitely leave you craving the next installment.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken Thoughts
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
While I just really enjoyed A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I wouldn’t say I was head over heels in love with this first book. However, I am absolutely forever in love with its sequel, A Heart So Fierce and Broken. Brigid Kemmerer expands the world of Emberfall through the perspective of Rhen’s previous right-hand man, Grey, and Lia Mara, the princess of Syhl Shallow.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken starts off a few weeks after A Curse So Dark and Lonely’s ending and epilogue. Grey was definitely an interesting character in the first installment. His relationship with Rhen was understandably strained and not quite clear, and I really thought he had chemistry with Harper. Both of these relationships, including Grey’s feelings, are explored in the sequel. I really enjoyed seeing Grey away from Emberfall and exploring his own past and story. It’s really difficult to explain without spoilers, but Grey’s back story helps expand this fantasy world, including the political tension and unrest between the counties and people.
Speaking of countries, the other perspective we are first introduced to in A Heart So Fierce and Broken is Lia Mara, the daughter of Queen Karis Luran. Unlike Harper, Lia Mara is a quiet character and is not seen as strong as her younger sister, who has just been named the heir of Syl Shallow. While Lia Mara is expected to stay out of trouble, things get difficult when Lia Mara becomes Rhen’s prisoner and while escaping, finds herself tangled up with Grey. I really liked Lia Mara. While I also liked her sister, Nolla Verin, and their relationship, Lia Mara was a different YA fantasy protagonist. Instead of being the heir and fighter, Lia Mara is not much of a fighter and wishes for peace. Her attitude and insight makes Grey, the former guardsmen, see much of the world in a different light. I really enjoyed their chemistry and I liked that their relationship wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of the story.
What made A Heart So Fierce and Broken such an immersive and hard to put down read was Brigid Kemmerer’s writing style. Fantasy books are known for being filled with descriptive language, but Brigid Kemmerer takes on a more simple writing style that will allow you to flip through the pages quickly and really punches in some shocking reveals. She certainly does not shy away from violence and action either. While I’m not too keen on blood and gore, the latter element made this story feel more mature and quite often raised the stakes even higher. I really just couldn’t put this book down!
A Heart So Fierce and Broken allows readers to become better acquainted with the cast of A Curse of So Dark and Lonely and get to know new characters. On the former cast, this book makes you question the morals and actions of characters in the first book, especially Rhen. I think the third book will help determine who is truly right and just when it comes to the greater good of Emberfall.
Overall, I adored A Heart So Fierce and Broken for its expanded world-building, new characters, exciting storyline, and yes, Grey and Lia Mara’s relationship. Catch me crying until I can get my hands on the next book.
This review is based on an advance uncorrected proof. By no means did receiving this review copy affect my thoughts and opinions.
Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely? Are you excited for A Heart So Fierce and Broken? Share in the comments!