I’m a strong believer that books find us at a particular time for a particular reason …
I’ve been trying to read this book for six months. I’ve DNF’d four times, thanks to interruptions, competing books, or finding the story meh … Meh to the point where I turned down a $5 hardcover bargain book when I was visiting Mosaic Books last month.
And then — lo and behold — I’m flipping through my library’s e-book archive last week and notice that it’s currently available.
“What the heck,” I think. “Might as well give it another try.”
I don’t even read e-books. I hate reading on a screen … but, after the super-heavy Ru and Split Tooth, — and the rather-underwhelming Great and Terrible Beauty — I needed a change.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, with a modern-world-hopping-fantasy twist. Harper’s life is far from ideal: her mom is dying of cancer, her dad is AWOL, and her brother is an enforcer for a local gang. Things only gets worse after being kidnapped and brought to the magical land of Emberfall. There she meets Crown Prince Rhen, who is under a curse and has been living in self-imposed isolation. Harper’s arrival coincides with a rise in international tensions, and pretty soon both are racing to save the kingdom against invaders.
This book was a ton of fun … but, more than that, it was a great example of what happens when you match character development with a well-paced fantasy plot. I couldn’t help falling in love with the three mains: their personalities, their motives, their relationships, and just how gosh darn good they were.
Things I liked:
Harper. Harper is one of the reasons I DNF’d this book over the summer. I found her character grating and overly tough, and felt that her diagnosis (cerebral palsy) was pretty shameless pandering. After pushing past the page 75-ish point, she really started to grow on me. She’s a strong, caring, and determined character — something that we should all aspire to be.
Rhen and Grey. Alright. Don’t get me wrong. Rhen and Grey engage in some highly inappropriate behaviour …
Repeat after me, kids: “Kidnapping is wrong.”
… but, that aside, these two are utter cinnamon buns. Grey’s dry humour and sense of loyalty is brilliant. Rhen’s gentleness, patience, and deep love for his people is touching. Plus, Rhen is totally Bradley James …
The Monster. Kemmerer’s monster was a wonderful interpretation of the Beast — and is ridiculously heartbreaking on so many levels. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of it. I hope – I really really really really hope! – that it reappears in later books.
Things I disliked:
The Girl Hate. Harper is the oh-so-special one in a world full of ditzes and brainless/superficial women. The not-like-other-girls trope is so boring, and paints such an unpleasant view of women in general. And, really, it was hammered home so many times that I just grew irritated.
The Little Inconsistencies. There’s a few nit-picky details that seemed out of place as I read … like the fact that the guards never seem to sleep; a lady being permitted to travel without a chaperone; or that Harper’s brother — despite being dirt poor thanks to the loan sharks — was able to buy a new phone.
The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.
- The Book: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
- Published: 2019, Bloomsbury
- My Copy: VIRL
- Read date: December 8, 2019
- Rating: ★★★★☆
- You should read this if you like … A Court of Thorns and Roses
- Avoid this if you dislike … “my lady”