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Audiobook Review: The Ballad of Never After (OUABH #2) (ARC)

Expected publication: September 13th 2022

Author: Stephanie Garber

Narrator: Rebecca Soler

Audiobook Length: 9 hours 22 minutes

Stephanie Garber’s The Ballad of Never After is the fiercely-anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Once Upon a Broken Heart, starring Evangeline Fox and the Prince of Hearts on a new journey of magic, mystery, and heartbreak

Not every love is meant to be.

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . .

The Ballad of Never After is the sequel to one of my top novels of last year, Once Upon a Broken Heart. The story picks up where the last novel left off, but there were enough callbacks where it was not difficult to remember the details of the previous story. There continue to be some references of the related series, Caraval, in this story, but I enjoy that they are easy enough to understand in case others have not read it yet. The story continues to be one that I try to take my time with as I want to savor each sentence.

Evangeline’s journey continues with her trying to reverse one curse while another makes an appearance. When this is put together with her trying to figure out her magic, the right course of action, and who to trust. She has grown a lot from the very naïve character introduced at the start of the series, but she still can sometimes find herself oblivious to dangers around her. Her relationship with Jacks continues to be very complex as they continue to interact. They continue to have amazing chemistry and banter as they both continue their own journeys.

As the novel is not officially labeled as part of a duology or trilogy, at first, the pacing does read slower if it is the former, but it fits if it is the latter. The writing of the story is a standout as there seems to be a direction for the main series since this is a young adult novel, but I enjoy that is not cut and dry. There is a lot that can happen in the next novel, and I cannot wait to read it. I really hope that the next novel, whenever it becomes a reality, lives up to my very high expectations as this is shaping up to be one of my favorites all-time series.

Rebecca Soler continues to narrate the series in an amazing manner. She did a great job differentiating the characters and narrating at a nice pace. I loved how she went through all the emotions in this novel as there were a lot. The Fates and their backstories continued to be explored, including Jacks. I loved getting to know him more and see him show hints of vulnerability. The ending of this novel was amazing yet frustrating. I loved how the ending was build-up, but my only frustration was because I am impatient and want to read what happens next!

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for the opportunity to read this novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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