I kept seeing this book around BookTube and got really interested. It sounded very interesting so I requested it.
This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Bloomsbury in return for an honest review. Thank you!
A Curse So Dark And Lonely
by Brigid Kemmerer
Release date: 29th January
Synopsis by NetGalley
Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, is cursed. Forced to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he can only be freed by love. But at the end of each autumn he is transformed into a beast hell-bent on destruction, and after so many failed attempts, his kingdom and its people are barely holding on.
Harper’s life has never been easy, but she’s learned to be tough enough to survive. She won’t let anything hold her back, not her cerebral palsy or her mother’s deteriorating health. But when she is sucked into Rhen’s world, nothing is as it seems. Powerful forces are standing against Emberfalll … and it will take more than a broken curse to save it from utter ruin.
I got totally engrossed into this book pretty quickly. I loved Harper as the main character and I really loved Rhen as the prince.
This book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Normally I don’t like to read retellings because since I know the original story I should know what happens in the retelling too. Assuming the author stays true to the original story. Which in theory you don’t know before you’ve read the retelling 🤔 hmm…
In this retelling of The Beauty And The Beast, we follow Harper and Rhen. It’s a dual perspective and we start off with Harper. She lived in DC with her brother and her sick mother.
One night as Harper is helping her brother out on “a job” she gets whisked away (#kidnapped) to “the other side” where she meets Rhen the Prince of Emberfall. The beginning is very typical beauty and the beast storyline but as the relationship between Harper and Rhen develop the book forms its own domain away from the original.
What I liked about this retelling was that, in the beginning, it informs us of how this curse is not what the originals story’s curse is. Already we as readers know this will not entirely be the same story. This curse is a constant repetition of a season and off an event. The original curse was permanent and ongoing without any resets. I like this new version because it made more sense to me and it also explained the beast behaviour a lot more than the original. If I were cursed like that I would definitely try an jump off a bridge.
I felt that some plotlines may have been a bit easy, but at the same time, I was connected to Harper and bought into everything she did and said. It made perfect sense to me.
I have minor issues with the ending though. It’s difficult to explain. There was something about it that made me question the entire book and the entire ship. The ending was what made me aware that there is a sequel which is good, but I have too many theories due to the ending of which I don’t like any of the outcomes. That’s the reason I had issues with the ending.
We get the most of the world building through Harper as she like us are new to Emberfall. We get thrown into the setting in the first chapter and it starts off small. Firstly its just a few areas but as Harper starts to explore so increased the world building.
I found the building not too steep and that it had a natural progression which felt to be the right pace. Yes, considering we all get thrown into Emberfall straight away there is a lot to take in, but I felt it was done it a nice and easy manner.
The only magic in this place is from the enchantress Lilith who has laid a curse on the land and heir of Emberfall. I’m not sure how it works but there was mention of a carpet of magic and feeling others along the blanket. It made me think of Poison Study and how the magic of the world wrapped itself around the world like a blanket. You could feel the thug of someone taking too much and you would know if you were the only one there. In Poison Study that is. However, in A Curse So Dark And Lonely I felt that the magic came from essentially bad or angry people searching for revenge. I would have liked to see good people with magic too but maybe it doesn’t exist in this world. Who knows.
Harper is the main character in the book and she is born with cerebral palsy but that won’t hold her back. She is strong-willed and kind. I recognised some of her personality traits in myself and I could relate to everything she did. That is probably how I got so engrossed with this book and how I now still can’t stop thinking about it. Because I was there, I was Harper. All in all, I liked how she wasn’t a dolled up, beauty queen type character. I really enjoyed her being a non-perfect empowered woman who tried to save people.
Rhen is the prince/beast of the story. I felt he was the perfect choice for Harper and I enjoyed seeing his side of the Beauty and the Beast storyline. He was a prince sick of the repetition of the curse and can come across as arrogant. But deep down he is kind and lovable and I totally love him!
I’m all for this ship!
Grey is the Commander and Rhen’s personal guard, the only remaining guard. Its just him and Rhen in the castle these days and Grey is the one to find the girls for Rhen. I like Grey and found to have a lot of questions about him in the end which damaged my enjoyment.
Yeah, there is something on the sideline, and it’s very cute.
I had an ARC from NetGalley and the number of formatting issues was insane and so were the spelling mistakes. In the request approval email, it did state that the formatting might not match my e-reader platform, but I felt there was just too much of it. At some point it got distracting, but I still enjoyed the content and the book so I managed to look away from the issues. I definitely hope the formatting and spelling issues are fixed in the final version.
Apart from that, I enjoyed the writing and felt the pacing was just right.
I loved it!
I totally ship Harper and Rhen 🥰
I have so many questions about how it ends that I can’t even mention here because of spoilers. A lot of them involves Grey.
I can’t wait for book two!
Have you read this? What did you think?