Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Narrators: Kate Handford, Davis Brooks, & Matt Reeves
Audiobook Length: 14 hours 51 minutes
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 18th 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. 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.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely is the first novel in the Cursebreakers series that is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. When Prince Rhen of Emberfall upset an enchantress, Lilith, she cursed him to repeat the season of his eighteenth birthday over and over again. He must now make a woman fall in love with him. Each season he attempts to break the curse, but there is a huge catch as he turns into a monster at the end of each one. The story begins when Rhen’s bodyguard, Grey, sets out to obtain a new woman for Rhen. He ends up selecting Harper as she was waiting for her brother in Washington DC. Grey kidnaps Harper and takes her back to Emberfall. While in this new and strange world, she must now figure out how to help Rhen break his curse.
As Prince Rhen has been cursed for five years, his character does not have a lot of hope all the time even though he wishes to help those around him. He wishes to break the curse, but he realizes that it may not happen and he may need to plan for the worst case. Therefore, Grey and Harper become his allies to try and figure out a way to still help the kingdom. I love that this story includes a main character with cerebral palsy as Harper is often underestimated for it yet she continues to show her strength. The representation of this disability was well done in the story as it was still a part of her character, but it was not her entire characteristic. While Harper is in Emberfall, she worries about her dying mother and brother, who are back in the “real world” in DC. Her character does come across as the very common “not-like-other-girls” trope, but it worked in this story as I did enjoy how strong she was and she continued to have hope for everyone around her. The one thing that I wished was explored further was the women that came before Harper as it is written as Grey kept selecting awful ones instead of just a compatibility issue or other reason. For me, it just seemed out of place that every single one would have been horrible, as it just did not seem probable. Instead, I would have enjoyed a little more thought and exploration into why Harper would be potentially a perfect match.
A great friendship forms between Harper and Grey where there are moments where it seems like there could a love triangle on the horizon. For me, I hope that there is not one and it continues to focus on Rhen and Harper as I think their compatibility is a little greater. I shall have to continue with the series to see how this develops. As for Rhen and Harper, I like that they did not seem to experience an insta-love connection and instead their bond seemed to grow over time. As this is the first story in the series, there is a lot of set-up with the characters and main story; however, I wish there was a little more introduction in the world. Emberfall is introduced throughout the novel, but I would have loved a more in-depth look into the scenery, customs, people, etc. Overall, this was a great start to the series with Harper being a fantastic main character. Even though the story is just beginning, she experienced a lot of growth with a lot of potentials for it to continue in the next installments. Rhen does not go through as much development, but I am curious to see how he grows in the rest of the series. I am greatly looking forward to beginning A Heart so Fierce and Broken to see what happens next!
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