HOLY BGJDHBFGHJBDFGH… this book is fantastic! Where have you been all my life? This is how you write re-tellings folks! *be prepared, this is going to be a long review, LOL
Since there are already so many BatB re-tellings out there, I’m always a bit skittish to start a new one even though I love them in general. But a lot of them aren’t really original and surprising anymore, to be honest. a Curse so Dark and Lonely is one of the few who hit all the right checkboxes for me though! It’s original and surprising, entertaining, enthralling, addictive and magical. I couldn’t have wished for more awesomeness. This was everything I hoped it’d be and MORE!
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.
Let me start by saying that Brigid Kemmer has some real writing skills (This is the first book I’ve read by her) Her writing is incredibly addictive right from the start. Everything just ‘clicks’ for me in this one, you know? There’s a really interesting and sometimes mysterious story-line, the world building and the settings are so vividly written. I loved exploring this world and seeing some politics added to it as well at some point. And then there’s also the set of characters; it’s magnificent and I really mean MAGNIFICENT. Loved them all so so much. They’re so well developed and likable and they all are such great additions to this story.
There is blood under my fingernails.
I wonder how many of my people I’ve killed this time
Story-wise there are elements present that are similar to the known BatB story; There’s a prince, a curse that has to be broken by love and a Beast/Monster. But boy o boy, it’s so much more than thas as well! The author was able to write a unique story-line using these known elements and made it HER OWN and I couldn’t love it more! There’s politics, there are more settings aside from the castle and we really venture out into this world that’s called Emberfall. We meet locals and we come across some really kick-ass fighting scenes that have you on the edge of your seat. This book screams girl power in the best ways possible – but don’t you worry: there’s enough opportunity as well for Prince Charming to come swooping in and save the day *wink* and leave us a blubbering mess of swooning fangirl.
– Story-line talk –
Harper gets thrown into this magical world -kidnapped really – and ends up in a magical castle where’s only a prince and his commander present instead of filled to the brim with people bustling around as you’d expect to find. She learns of a curse that has to be broken by love but has no interest in it and the role she’s supposed to play whatsoever. She only wants to escape and get back to her mother and brother in her own world. Her mother who’s dying and her brother who ended up in a really bad place because he needs money to pay the medical bills for their mother…
For prince Rhen, the cursed one, this is his last chance of redemption, of breaking the curse. The last season in which he has to make a girl fall in love with him before he’ll turn into a Beast forever and roam the lands killing people. He’s lost everything over the years; his family, his kingdom and he’s bound to lose the last thing he’s got left; his friendship with Grey and his life. At this point, he’s not even sure he wants to live anymore though. His time is a Beast and the things he’s done because of that haunt him, but Harper is unlike any other girl he has come across. She will antagonize him, surprise him, impress him. She makes him think about things outside of his curse and if there’s actually a possibility of him breaking it in this last season. That could be dangerous but he’s got nothing to lose.
The stakes are high this time because the end is near and he finds himself opening up to Harper more and more. But he can’t seem to catch a break when there’s an enchantress who’s sole purpose is to torture him every chance she gets. There’s a war looming, coming from another country and Rhen has to fight not only trying to break the curse but to save his people, his kingdom, even if he’s destined to not be in it any more in the nearby future. This story of being cursed, a kingdom on the break of war, friendship, love and finding redemption is heartbreakingly beautiful and I loved reading every second of it!
I sigh. I’m so tired of this. One last season. I throw the chipped glass into the fireplace. It shatters into a thousand sparks that flare and die. “I will dress for dinner. Let us play this game one last time.”
– character talk-
I mean… our heroine Harper is GIRL CRUSH MATERIAL I tell you! She is amazing. I haven’t read a book in a while with such a beautifully strong female lead written into it. Her character was written so flawlessly I think. Her having cerebral palsy makes me respect – and being in awe of her – even more, because she’s so inspiring and (head)strong. She’s feisty and definitely no damsel in distress, so I was a huge fan of hers right from the start given how she stands up for others and is willing to fight for them. I love the way she kicks ass and how she’s always able to surprise everyone around her by doing things they think are impossible for her to do. She’s one hell of an underestimated character and that makes her really impressing, whoop whoop!
“What Lilith is doing to you is wrong, Harper says. I hope she does come here. I hope she comes to this room. Because I don’t care what I have to do. I’m going to end her.
Rhen… our prince and ‘Beast’ was such an intriguing and mysterious character and I couldn’t get enough of him. He’s definitely a prince charming when he wants to be – LE SIGH – but he also has a darker side to him – aside from being the Beast I mean. He’s mentally not always in a right place, which I can totally understand seeing what he went through and has done so over the years – not willingly – when being the Beast, and I just really liked reading about his ‘darker’ side. He’s not this flawless and perfect character you come across so often and that makes him so freaking fantastic and loveable as one of our leads.
I clench my jaw. I once thought the monstrous destruction was the worst part of the curse, but I’ve long since learned that it’s not. It’s this, the repeated humiliation and punishment. The powerlessness to reclaim what is mine. Being forced to watch as every dignity is stripped away.
And not Rhen alone is one character you’re destined to fall in love with. Noooo Sir. There’s Grey, his Guardsman/Commander and friend really, who’s been beside him from before the Curse was cast. And he was such a fantastic addition to this book. He provided for a lot more depth in a lot of scenes and I loved how these three characters formed this strong bond with one another. (the story is being told from Rhen and Harper’s POV but Grey is definitely present enough to be mentioned as being another lead character I think)
There’ll be some more minor characters along the way who are being introduced and they all fit in perfectly with the story. The author did an amazing job of creating a set of characters that are diverse and interesting and loveable. I can gush about all of them forever.
– Romance talk –
There’s a romance present of course and I was so curious and scared at the same time to read about it since it’s so hard to write refreshing ones. But even though there’s this whole ‘break the curse by love’ thing going on, and you think you’ve seen it all already, the romance really isn’t Too much and just in such beautiful balance with everything else.
Its progression is steady-paced and it’s really well-developed and believable which made me so excited! I gobbled it all up and couldn’t get enough of it! The romance is just enough to have all the romance-lovers out there hooked and not too much to have the readers who don’t like romance as much, feeling overwhelmed. It’s just the right amount of romance in contrast to the story and its development.
For one brief moment, I forgot the curse. I forgot that she is not some simple girl who sparks intrigue with every other word from her tongue. And for one brief moment, I remembered. I remembered what it was like to want to touch a girl, not as part of a carefully planned seduction designed to lure her into breaking this curse.
Where to start when summarizing this story? Not possible. There’s so much to fangirl about because that’s what I’ve really been doing here, lol. This is a BatB retelling like you’ve never seen before and I mean that in the best way possible.
This is a story that has you swooning, aching, crying, loving, falling apart at the seems and it leaves you craving more when finished.
Like I said before; This was everything I’d hoped it’d be and more… I can’t recommend this book enough and I hope you’ll be swept away by this amazing story just as I was and still am.
This was never a curse to be broken. This is a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.
*I am so very thankful to the publisher for sending me an arc of this book. This was one of my most highly anticipated 2019 releases and I count myself so lucky that I was able to review it in exchange for leaving an honest review. I am so Happy that this book turned out to exceed my expectations!
If and when you read it, let me know! I’d love to hear what you think of this re-telling.