” The most dangerous girl at the party is always the girl alone with a book.”
– Brigid Kemmerer
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Bloomsbury YA for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!
Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
A Curse So Dark and Lonely was a new and interesting retelling of the classic tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast. I enjoyed reading it, especially because of Harper and Grey. I was a huge shipper of them and desperately wanted them to end up together. I had a hard time with Rhen. He had his moments where I really liked him as a character but for all his good moments there were quite a few bad ones. I was hoping for a bit of a redemption arc with him beginning in A Heart So Fierce and Broken. I was also excited to get an inside look into Karis Luran’s kingdom and getting to meet her daughters. From the synopsis it sounded like there was the possibility of romance, adventure and deception.
Rhen and Harper who lied to the kingdom to unite it are now struggling to keep it united and their deceit from being uncovered. People of the kingdom are not happy especially since there are rumors of a mage smith who is the rightful heir. With all that going on there is also the threat of Karis Luran invading Emberfell and creating a war to establish trade routes desperately needed.
➽ Grey – No longer commander of the king’s guard but on the run and in hiding because he has discovered he is the true heir to the Emberfell throne. He’s also apparently one of the last magesmiths left but his magic has yet to make an appearance. He wants nothing to do with the throne and knows if Rhen finds out things will go south with their relationship.
➽ Lia Mara – Daughter of Karis Luran but not the heir by choice of her mother. She is kind, smart, and in my opinion would be the kind of ruler who would rule with love, kindness and fairness which is exactly what her mother is hoping to avoid by choosing Lia Mara’s ruthless younger sister.
Under some pretty crap circumstances thanks the Rhen, Lia Mara and Grey are thrown together on a race to save lives and stop a war.
It was so nice to finally have Grey’s POV and see just how he views the world. I adored his sidekick, who so obviously looked up to Grey. We actually get quite the cast of characters this book. Along with Lia Mara, who reminded me of Harper a bit but more soft around the edges, we got to see more of Jake and Noah along with a magical creature who joins the gang on their journey. We got to know each of these characters so well and it was nice to see Jake in a new light since he so obviously, like me, detested Rhen and was always butting heads with him. It was a journey adventure story that speed up once the destination was reached and ended a tad predictably but didn’t make me love the journey or outcome any less.
I shipped Grey and Harper so hard last book that it was hard to let that go. Lia Mara is a strong, independent women who caught not only my attention with her inner and outer strength and beauty but also Grey’s. It was a slow-burn romance in the sense that there was so much going on that it took the characters a while to realize just how much they noticed each other. It was cute to see which trait each admired in the other. It was healthy relationship building compared to Rhen and Harper in my opinion.
Rhen. I understand he went through a lot under the curse Lilith put on him, more so than Grey. I can’t use that to excuse his actions in this book though. I know he’s scared and the twist at the end explained a lot more behind his actions, but I can’t see why Harper still stays with him. It’s venturing into unhealthy territory and I’m getting a tad concerned. I’m hoping the third book will wrap this whole mess up with Rhen and he will have a happy ending, be a better person, and have a healthy relationship with Harper. Seeing him work through his issues with Harper would be a positive thing for young readers so I really hope that’s the direction this is headed it. I did like him a bit more in the first book and I’m hoping to see that Rhen again.
Disclaimer: All quotes used in this review are taken from an advanced copy and may be changed from those that appear in the final version. Quotes will be updated to reflect such changes, if any.