Jan 21, 2019

ARC Review--A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

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 Lacy. 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.

I received this ARC in a fair trade on the booksfortrade hashtag. My review is completely honest and voluntary, I was in no way compensated for this review. 

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is my first book by Brigid Kemmerer and it was a positively beautiful and amazing read. I pretty much love any kind of Beauty and the Beast retelling and Brigid's is bound to be a favorite for a long time! It uniquely combines fantasy world with our modern real world and I just love that kind of combination.

Rhen is cursed. Every winter he turned into a beast, so every fall he sends his guard, Grey, out to bring a girl from our world back with him so he can try to have her fall in love with him and break the curse. He's failed every time the last 300+ years. The enchantress who cursed him, aptly named Lilith, tells him that this will be the last time for the curse. He must either succeed to break the curse or he will remain a beast for all time. ;)

Harper is from our modern world and has had a rough go of things lately. Her mother has cancer and is dying, her dad is MIA, which leaves her and her brother, Jake, to try to get to by. Jake has to work for "bad people" in order to pay their father's debts to them. It's when Harper is on lookout for Jake on such job that she witnesses what she thinks is a kidnapping. While trying to stop it she inadvertently brings herself to the fantasy world when Grey decides to take her instead. And so begins our tale as old time.

Harper is not too pleased to be in this other world and Rhen isn't too pleased as Harper isn't what he expected. Things are just complicated. But as you can expect, things slowly change over time. Harper shakes up Rhen's life. Her escape attempts end up leading to helping people. Rhen has been slacking in that area for years because of the curse. While it's been 300+ years for him, for his people it's been more like five. Time moves different within the curse. It gets explained rather well early on, so don't worry about any confusion. I had none of that while reading.

Soon Harper is helping Rhen to better his kingdom, in trying to do more for the people he's forgotten. In doing so they uncover quite the nefarious plot as a neighboring ruler has their own plans for Rhen's kingdom. But that's not their only problem, Lilith visits frequently. She, as well, clearly has her own plans for Rhen, ones that were centuries in the making.

All the while Rhen was subtly trying to get Harper to fall in love with in and break his curse. Though she clearly was having none of it. At first, naturally. Though we all know Beauty and the Beast to be a great love story, this one didn't put such emphasis on romance. It was still there, but I liked seeing it evolve over time. Much like our favorite Disney movie, though obviously it's a longer draw out then the 90 minute movie!

I liked that Harper wasn't your perfect heroine either. It's not often that you have a fantasy heroine with any sort of medical issues. I don't know much about cerebral palsy, but I could relate to some of Harper's struggles, as I have an entirely different condition that prevented me from some of the things that she struggled with too. 

I liked how this one did well to follow the original fairy tale and yet still shine on its own. It was more like Brigid chose to use similar aspects to the story rather than make it a slightly twisted retelling. Like using two different worlds that are parallel. At one point Harper is allowed to return home to see her family, though, unlike Beauty, she longs to return to Rhen, for she is perhaps falling in love with him and wants to help him break his curse.

The pacing to this was very ideal. It's a story that isn't really fast paced to begin with, but I felt like Brigid did exceedingly well to keep the story moving. I never felt like things were dragging. although I will admit to getting a little confused with some of the history of Lilith. She had a bit of backstory, but I'll admit I couldn't quite follow it. Though, I was traveling at the time and can easily blame that as the cause.

The ending was pretty perfect. Coupled with an epic battle with shocking conclusions, it ended in a way that was just right. I do believe this is a series of some sort. That's all I really know at this point. While we aren't left with any dire cliffhangers, thank goodness, we are left with a pretty revealing revelation. And of course the ever present, what will our characters do next? Because there simply must be a next of some kind.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely was my first Brigid Kemmerer book but it certainly won't be my last. It was a magical story that I whole-heartedly loved, even if Harper wasn't a bookworm, tragically. It had all the right elements of a Beauty and the Beast tale and of course the twist and turns of a retelling with an added bit of magic truly made this book a unique and enjoyable pleasure!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars

A Curse So Dark and Lonely releases January 29, 2019


  1. Great review! I need to read this one soon. :)

  2. Lovely review Jess, I agree that the pacing was great. I wonder if the second book will be a sequel or companion.

  3. Oh, yay! I just started this one, and I'm loving it so far!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  4. I've said before that I'm always intrigued by retellings, Beauty and the Beast's most of all, so I already had this book on my radar; however, when you said "his one did well to follow the original fairy tale and yet still shine on its own" you made it jump-up several places on my TBR. It's my favorite, when they take the story you know and twist it and stretch it and make it theirs, and then you see it all in a different light. Awesome.

  5. I'll have to check this book out! I've found so many wonderful reads thru your blog! I love the cover on this one too!

    1. I just emailed my library and asked them to add it to their holdings. I hope they do!

  6. Great review! I haven't read any of her books before, but I definitely know now that this will be one I will with all the action and perfect pacing and ending.


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