|| Book Review || A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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Genre: Fantasy, Retelling

Age category: Young Adult

Release Date: January 29th 2019

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.





Okay so it took me 5 days to read this which given it’s length is actually a pretty long time for me.

I expected to really love this. I wanted to love it. I just didn’t and I feel really bad about it but there it is.

I know there are a lot of people out there who really love this so maybe this is another one of those unpopular bookish opinions of mine but I want to try to explain why this book pretty much missed the mark for me personally.

So to start off with this is of course a Beauty and the Beast retelling and so by default I assume its going to be everything. I love retellings, particularly Beauty and the Beast and so maybe my expectations were just way too high, I don’t know.

So let’s start off with all the things that I actually really liked about this book.

Harper! Our main female/heroine/whatever is really, really awesome. Harper has Cerebral Palsy but she doesn’t let it hold her back. She is proud of who she is, comfortable in her own skin and yeah just a big thumbs up from me for the disability rep here, amazing. Yeah, she isn’t perfect and she does and says some stupid crap that makes me roll my eyes but what is a YA book without a bit of eyeroll, right? Overall I liked her and found her to be pretty relatable and fun to read about.

Grey. I love me a character who is sort of moody/mysterious and also sort of scary but you know he’s actually a really good guy underneath it all. That is basically Grey for me. I really enjoyed his character although I was not so keen on the hinted love triangle between him, Harper and Rhen. It never really amounted to anything but there was definitely something there and I am not the biggest fan of love triangles generally.

Representation. As well as Harper’s CP we also have a mother with cancer and a gay brother with a black boyfriend. I love this!

Okay so now for the bits that I didn’t like.

Rhen. This guy, I mean seriously I just did not connect with him as our beast/hero/love interest/whatever. I found him really weird as a character and like I just can’t quite work him out.

The romance. This had me totally baffled because initially we have Harper, kidnapped and brought to this fairy-tale land to fall in love with Rhen and break this curse. She hates his guts for kidnapping her (rightly so) until she suddenly doesn’t. I feel like the romance was just suddenly there with no real build up (unless I fell asleep and missed that part which is likely considering how bored I was for a big part of the book). Even at the end when the curse is broken she doesn’t seem like she knows whether she loves him or not and it just left me feeling really confused. I like my romance sizzling and there was just no sizzle in this book so that was a big let down for me.

The world. Another thing that really confused me was the way the curse was portrayed. Apparently Ironrose castle is cursed to repeat the season over and over until Rhen breaks the curse but at the same time the lands outside the castle are still moving along as normal and it’s said that 5 years have passed and yet somehow Rhen and Grey have repeated 300 seasons?! I mean that just makes no sense to me at all.

The curse/villain. Lilith was a ridiculous villain in my opinion. I think I get that the author was going for the beautiful, evil enchantress vibe but she didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me. I don’t really understand her motives or end game. She cursed Rhen because he slept with her and didn’t want her or maybe because Rhen’s dad killed all of her fellow mage smiths? I’m not even sure. I thought she sucked as a villain though and just seemed to randomly pop up throughout the book to dole out some torture.

The writing style. This is just a personal thing for me. I am just not a huge fan of the way this is written. I am not super keen on first person narrative and I don’t like the way that the chapters bounced from Rhen to Harper each time. I did like how the chapters were quite short and snappy though.

The plot itself is interesting enough and the book is definitely a breeze to read. I would say it caters toward younger readers in general. It was okay but it didn’t bring anything new or special to the table.

I am halfway through the second book in the series right now and I am enjoying it a little bit more as it is more about Grey who as I said before, I really like! I also have the final book downloaded from the library and ready to go so keep your eyes peeled for my reviews of the next two books in the next week or two.



Have you read this book? Do you want to? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s discuss! ♥


  1. I enjoyed reading this balanced review. As someone with CP myself, I also really appreciated the representation and agree that at times Harper did and said some things that were eye-roll worthy. Nice work! 🙂

    1. Aww thank you! There were a lot of good things in this book, especially the representation. It was just missing something I think but I am enjoying the second book a little bit more which is weird because from the reviews I’ve read from others it seems to generally be the other way around and people seem to prefer book one to book two! Oh well, I enjoy being different haha!

  2. I really enjoyed this book, but I went into it not expecting to like it, so maybe I actually liked it more because of that! I like retellings, but I’m not big into Beauty & the Beast, and I had pretty low expectations, and I loved it way more than I thought I would in the end. I definitely agree with some of your points though!

  3. The curse timing 😂 I hadn’t thought about it myself when reading but I’ve seen a few comments now of readers pointing out that 300 seasons in 5 years makes no sense, even with the explanation that some of the girls were sent back very early. A lot of your points are answered in the later books but I can definitely see your criticisms. Harper is definitely one of the best parts of the book in my opinion too and her disability rep is awesome to see. Loved reading your thoughts! 😊

    1. Thank you! I am almost done with the series now. I am 1/4 of the way through the final book so ill definitely finish over the weekend. I liked book two better than book one but I am not sure about this last one yet, we’ll see!

  4. I think Beauty and the Beast is actually a difficult story to rewrite! I read one recently that I didn’t enjoy and I’m not convinced by this one either!

  5. I loved this book, but I completely understand your critiques. I hate Rhen, but I love Harper and Grey. They’re both amazing characters. The 300 seasons in 5 years is because they don’t always finish a season. It’s cut short.
    Lilith was a miss for me as well. There were some serious flaws in this book, but I still really enjoyed it. I’m curious to see what you think of the second book!

    Great review! Many parts made me laugh. 😁

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