A Curse So Dark and Lonely
by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury
Book 1 in the Cursebreakers Trilogy
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 by Brigid Kemmerer is the first book in her Cursebreakers trilogy, and centers around 18 year old Harper, and 18* year old Prince Rhen. Prince Rhen, heir to Emberfall, is cursed by a powerful witch, if forced to relive the autumn of his 18th year over and over again, until a woman could fall in love with him. Rhen is handsome, and charming - no problem, right? But at the end of the season, Rhen turns into a beast, and kills whomever is in his sights, with no control to stop. He destroys everything over the years - his home, his family, his kingdom ... but at the beginning of every season, his loyal guard crosses over to a different realm, and takes a woman, in hopes she will be the one to break the curse. Enter Harper. She doesn't have an easy life. Her mother is dying from lung cancer. Her father left them, in debt with local loan sharks, and because she has cerebral palsy, her brother refuses to let her help him work off the debt for the gang. When Harper is hiding in an alley, waiting for her brother to come back, she witnesses a man try to kidnap a woman. And despite her anxiety over her brother, and fear of what she was witnessing, she attacks. And wakes up in a whole new world. As time passes, and she begins to care for the people of Emberfall, and Prince Rhen - and Rhen learns that she is so different from the other women, he begins to have hope. But there are forces against them and Emberfall that even they don't know about.
This is another series that has been on my TBR for a while, and one of my favorite authors posted that she a) loves this author and her books, and b) there was a deal for the whole trilogy on kindle, and I was in a reading slump, so I bought it. I figured if one of my favorite authors recommended it, I can't go wrong. Right? Well, sort of, I guess. There was a lot I liked about this book. I loved the world building. I love the unique spin on the Beauty and the Beast retelling. I even liked the characters, and most of all, Harper. I loved that we get a main character with a disability, and how she doesn't let it get in the way of her doing what she wants. But I felt the budding romance between Harper and Rhen felt forced. There was a natural chemistry, but I didn't feel it going anywhere. There needed to be more emphasis on them getting to know one another. More moments of them together in general. I felt there was more emphasis put on the genuine friendship between Harper and Grey. And any romantic thoughts between those two felt forced as well. The author trying to place a love triangle that just doesn't work. And that was my main problem with this story. Them chemistry, and how everything felt forced. Too much is put into the world, the kingdom, and the politics, and not enough is put into the bonds between these characters. Which is supposed to be the whole point. Harper needs to fall in love with Rhen to break the curse. So more work should have been put into that. Otherwise, I found the book enjoyable.
If you enjoy young adult, which I feel I might be starting to grow out of (unless its an Upper YA), and fantasy, I think you will enjoy this book. But if you are going into it thinking you are going to get an epic romance, I think you will be disappointed.
Harper throwing the knife at Lilith
"I would like to find out"
Grey: "Do not think that this means I will allow you to attack me again."
Harper: "Don't worry. I'm sure I'll get another chance."
Rhen: "She attacked you? Grey. She is half your size."
Grey: "She makes up for it in temperament. She most assuredly was not my first choice."
This early in the season, the other girls would sit by the hearth and gaze at me over crystal goblets, while I'd pour wine and tell stories with just enough devilishness to make them blush.
If I put a crystal goblet in this one's hand, she'd likely smash it and use the shards to cut me.
Rhen: "Yes, my lady."
Harper: "Would you stop calling me that?"
Rhen: "It is meant as a mark of respect. When you travel with me, people will assume you are a lady, a servant, or a whore. Would you prefer one of the latter?"
Now I want to punch him.
Harper: "Did you get naked with these hundreds of women, too?"
Rhen: "Such questions you ask."
She rolls her eyes.
Harper: "Well, that's sure not a no."
Rhen: "It is, in fact. I lured them all into my life. I abhor the idea of luring them into my bed - and I certainly would not force them."
I pause in the doorway and face her.
Harper: "I'm not going to fall in love with you."
Rhen: "You won't be the first."
Harper: "Do you think I can't do it?
Grey: "I have no doubt you c an do it. I think His Highness will not like it."
Harper: "Oh! Well then, posthaste or whatever you'd say here."
Rhen: My father once said we are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose - just as a poor hand can win - but we must all play the cards fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless."
Lilith: "You tore my dress."
Harper: "I was aiming higher. But I'm still learning."
Rhen: "You are not angry about what Lilith has done?"
Harper: "Oh, I'm furious. But not about my face."
Rhen: "Then what?"
Harper: "I'm mad I missed."
Freya: "It is not the moment of passing that is most important. It is all the moments that come before."
Freya: "I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light."
Grey: "You are merciful and kind. But kindness and mercy always find their limit, beyond which they turn to weakness and fear."
Harper: "Where's the limit?"
Grey: "That answer is different for each of us."
Harper: "Where are your guards, Grand Marshal? I expected to be greeted when I arrived."
Grand Marshal: "You seemed to make your way in here all right. I don't control my men's every move. I have a private army. No one would dare attack my home."
Harper: "One of our guards is dead in the courtyard. Forgive me if I do not find much reassurance in the strength of your army."
Harper: "Failure isn't absolute. Just because you couldn't save everyone doesn't mean you didn't save anyone."