Sorry about missing last week’s reviews. I am giving you four today. Hopefully this makes up for what I have missed!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Synopsis From The Book
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. 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.
Fantasy | YA – A |Love, Mental Torture, Death, Manipulation, Gore and Blood | Falling in Love, Survival and Strength
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
My knowledge of this novel comes down to the facts. One, its a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I’m a sucker for retellings- let’s go. Two the font is massive. Three. Its four hundred pages. I’ve heard good things, but I am kinda surprised by the premise given. I wasn’t prepared for an isekai story. LOL so I’m being hit twice. I love Isekai stories! So much so, my friends make fun of me =___=
Anyway! Let’s go.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
I have so many questions. And two more books to go? It looks like I need to rent (see: buy) them as soon as possible to ensure that. This was a lot of fun, and such a change of pace from what I had struggled to finish last month (see the dragon anthology). Quick and fun and I am happy to start the year with this.
I did look into book 2/3 and it is clear that Grey is said to be the rightful heir???? I don’t understand. That can’t happen. Ever. Period the end. He was a bastard son. Unless he was legitimized by his father, which he was not, he has absolutely no claim on the throne over Rhen. If Rhen was dead, yes he could claim it, but as the legitimate son, Rhen has a superior claim. I don’t understand how Grey can be said to be the rightful heir when this is the case. UNLESS there is something i’m missing in book 2, which is possible and thus I will have to read.
The novel follows Harper and Rhen. Rhen is a prince who was cursed by Lilith, an enchantress. He was cursed to relive the autumn when he turned 18, as many times as it takes until he gets a girl to fall in love with him or he chooses Lilith. He had slept with Lilith about five years ago, Emberfall time, and she blamed him for getting her hopes up that she could be crown princess.
Harper, a girl with cerebral palsy, lives her day to day worrying that her mother might die at any time and that her brother (Jake) might get killed trying to keep them safe. Her brother took over a job for their father after he left the family, running away from his debt and the gangs that controlled him. Jake became the defacto person to work for the gang. Harper is kidnapped by a soldier named Grey.
Grey is the only soldier remaining in the castle. After more than three hundred transformations and 18th birthdays, for Rhen, he is calloused, and believes nothing will be solved. Like always, Grey tries to find a girl with the schism of hope that the curse can be broken. Grey has killed everyone he ever cared for, and shut down his country to try to protect it, but everything is falling apart.
Harper was kidnapped by Grey, because she saved another girl from being taken. Immediately she is locked away, because of how much she fought, and the promptly tried to escape. She does successfully escape and runs into a family who she helps save when Rhen and Grey come to find her. She learns more about how the people of Emberfall think the royal family abandoned them when the monster came. Then explains more about what he needs from her and why and Grey and Harper bond.
Harper gives food to people, and when they are attacked again, she steps up as a crown princess and weaves a lie that Rhen can use to embolden the population. The lie is that the royal family went to Disi, another country, to seek aid, and that Disi is responding. Grey and Harper grow closer and in time Harper and Rhen grow closer, talking about their families and lives. Harper learns how to fight.
Lilith, tells Rhen that this autumn is his last, and when Rhen tells Harper about Lilith, she requests that Lilith take her back. The first time she meets Lilith, Lilith is torturing Rhen. She does not go back home. Lilith then takes to torturing Rhen in secret with the acts that he caused to ruin his country, and what he did as the monster. Harper is quick to catch on and has Rhen sleep in her room and Lilith stops haunting him.
Harper and Grey start to gather the people to convince them that all will be okay, even as the northern country is threatening to invade. A few men attack and Harper asks for Mercy that Rhen gives. Many people pledge to them. Later multiple soldiers arrive at the castle ready to fight. Harper consistently proves herself strong and Rhen falls for her.
It is when they are finally about to kiss and make out, that Rhen realizes he has scales. Lilith offers Harper a truth, that Grey could take her home at any time. Then orders Grey to do it but she asks Grey to come back for her. He says he will, and Harper saves her family with money. Unfortunately her mother still dies. She waits for Grey but he never arrives until a day later when Jake, Noah (Jake’s boyfriend), and her are eating. He is a mess and Noah has to save his life. (Noah is working on his residency at a hospital).
When Grey had returned to Emberfall, he had gotten drunk with Rhen and they had talked to the queen of the attacking country. Then to Lilith all before Rhen turned into a dragon horse creature and attacked Grey. Grey went to Harper, and he brings Harper, her brother, and Noah back to Emberfall. They immediately step in to help in their own ways. Harper leads the army and is able to tame Rhen, and using Rhen is able to force the attacking army away. She is injured, however.
Lilith tames Rhen in the time that Harper is away from him and decides to use him and plans to kill Harper. Grey offers himself, and Lilith goes to kill Rhen when Harper saves him. Harper almost dies but Rhen returns to human. Grey kills (?) Lilith in Harper’s world. Harper awakes but Grey is gone.
Grey is revealed at the end to be with his mother, an enchantress? He asks a few questions and then disappears. It was revealed earlier in the story that Grey is the bastard son of the king, aka Rhen’s brother.
What I Liked:
Grey; This boy needs a vacation. The strongest warrior, who has had to survive literal hell for years? He needs a massage, a vacation, paid leave, and probably therapy. I adored him so much, and his absolute dedication to Rhen and the crown. I really hope he stays safe.
Rhen; This boy needs therapy. Like a lot of it. I love cold and calculating types, but I feel like he is being set up to become a dangerous and scary villain. His back story already lends itself to it. I’m happy that he was able to break the curse, but I have a feeling that he will not be able to be happy. I need more of his schemes. So many more schemes. Please.
Harper; She’s great. She kicked ass, and took notes on how to beat people better. She was unafraid and willing to risk it all, as well as charming and compassionate. I adore her, and somehow wish she didn’t have to love Rhen. All that is waiting for her is pain with him, so much pain. I know it. Please be safe.
Lilith; She’s great. Vindictive, manipulative, and I want to know so much more. Her entire people died. She was raised alone, probably on hate. God I need to know so much more about her, and then give her a hug and tell her its going to be okay and that she can let go. Revenge is not always what is needed.
Retelling; I did like this retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It stuck to the gruesomeness of the original tale but had a fun twist to it that I enjoyed.
Bloody Carnage; I loved how bloody this book was. War? People die. A monster? It kills. It was horrible, horrifying and what I would expect from a Beauty and the Beast retelling that was going to stick to the more terror inducing story.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
I probably wish that I had the second and third so I can just find out what happens next.
I want to know more about Lilith.
I want to see more of Lilith and Grey’s dynamic, and why in the world she acts in such a way to Grey, because how she treated him was in slight fear. I want to know why.
“You are such a pretty liar” – pg 33