A Curse So Dark and Lonely – 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.
Video Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Prince Rhen, heir to Emberfall, is cursed to repeat the autumn of his 18th birthday until he can find a woman to fall in love with him even as he transforms each season into a monstrous beast. The season resets after every failure-all 327 of them. When Harper intervenes in what looks like an abduction on the streets of Washington, DC, she is transported into another world. Instead of worrying about her dying mother or the risks her brother is taking to pay off their absent father’s debts to a loan shark, Harper is trapped in Emberfall at the center of the curse. Harper, who has cerebral palsy, is shocked to learn that she is Rhen’s last chance to break the curse. But Harper isn’t sure if the fate of a kingdom can be enough to make her fall in love. Kemmerer’s “Beauty and the Beast” retelling introduces a unique world filled with fantasy and menace. Rhen is an accomplished if pessimistic strategist while Harper is impulsive to the point of recklessness. Despite their obvious tension and occasional chemistry, Rhen’s evolving friendship with his guard commander Grey is often more compelling than Harper’s interactions with either man. While Harper and Rhen accomplish much over the course of the novel, this installment has little in the way of closure. VERDICT Rich world-building, hints of a love triangle, and unresolved questions will leave readers anxious to see what happens next. A strong choice.-Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“Has everything you’d want in a retelling of a classic fairy tale: a finely-drawn fantasy world, a heroine rarely seen in fiction, and a tortured hero with a secret. I have only one complaint: I wish the sequel were already available!” – Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A SPARK OF LIGHT and SMALL GREAT THINGS
“Absolutely spellbinding. A Curse So Dark and Lonely expands on all the beloved themes of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to create an intensely original retelling: one full of fierce new characters, wicked magic, and wondrous amounts of heart. Brigid Kemmerer doesn’t just tell a story, she builds an entire world that you will never want to leave.” – Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of CARAVAL and LEGENDARY
“I couldn’t get this creative, suspenseful take on ‘Beauty and the Beast’ out of my head.” – Sara Holland, New York Times bestselling author of EVERLESS
“Slow burning, big hearted, magical fun! I loved every minute.” – New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins
“Heartwarming, thoughtful, and romantic: Brigid Kemmerer took me on a magical journey with this dark fairy tale about growing up, falling in love, and making impossible choices. I can’t wait to see where these characters go next.” – Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling co-author of MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE
“Beautifully dark, filled with wild adventure and a modern-day heroine every reader will find a bit of themselves in.” – Alexandra Christo, author of TO KILL A KINGDOM
“Harper is the undisputed hero . . . Avoiding disability inspiration tropes, she is a fallible, well-rounded character who fights for the vulnerable and resists being labeled as such herself despite how others perceive her. A fast-paced, richly detailed feminist epic.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This enthralling modern fable champions altruism while illustrating intimacy’s relationship with honesty, respect, trust, and consent.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Fans of Cassandra Clare, Marissa Meyer, or Alex Flinn, as well as any reader looking to sink into a top-notch story with great characters, will want to read this book.” – VOYA, starred review
“A complex, creative, and compelling reimagining of Beauty and the Beast.” – School Library Connection, starred review
“A fresh twist on an old story. . . . Fans of Sarah J. Maas will be eager for this one.” – Booklist
“Kemmerer knows how to blend a compelling story with a swoony romance, and the love triangle that inevitably develops . . . is organic and unforced because of strong characterization.” – BCCB
“A unique world filled with fantasy and menace . . . will leave readers anxious to see what happens next.” – School Library Journal
“Kemmerer merges modern sensibilities with an epic love story in this Beauty and the Beast retelling.” – Shelf Awareness
“Readers looking for a different sort of coming-of-age story or teen protagonists grappling with complex situations will fall in love with this romance-tinged novel.” – Starred review, Booklist on MORE THAN WE CAN TELL
“A must-have for any YA collection. Give to teens who enjoyed A Boy Called It by Dave Pelzer or The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.” – Starred review, School Library Journal on MORE THAN WE CAN TELL
“This book is going to fly off the shelves to all teens, but it will hold special interest for those looking for a tear-jerking romance and serious readers of realistic fiction.” – VOYA on LETTERS TO THE LOST
“A great concept, delivered in a compulsively readable package . . . romance readers will stay up late to finish this very satisfying and heartfelt read.” – Booklist on LETTERS TO THE LOST
“Explores the ideas of carving identity out of pain and the way perception colors expectations.” – BCCB on LETTERS TO THE LOST
“Readers will find themselves rooting for the real Declan to win Juliet’s heart the same way his online persona did. Consider this tale of modern star-crossed love as a first purchase for YA collections.” – School Library Journal on LETTERS TO THE LOST
Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite fairy tales. Not that I’d fancy being kidnapped to break a curse, but there is a romantic notion to it. Now it has been creatively re-imagined in A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Brigid Kremmerer concocts this luxurious fantasy where a perfectly imperfect young woman must save a kingdom from a monster that is terrorising the villagers. A young woman who becomes a force to be reckoned with, driven by her love of family and longing for home. With a riveting romance and a hell of a villain, it was a wild ride from start to finish. Despite the fact that the story is a standalone, there will be a sequel, that I’m very excited to see in the future.
To start, Prince Rhen is cursed. Every season he must convince a young lady to fall in love with him, otherwise when the season ends, he will become a monster hell-bent on the destruction of Emberfall. Over time, he managed to destroy his family, castle, and any hope of falling in love. Enter Harper Lacy, a young woman in present day D.C. whose life hasn’t been easy. Her father has skipped town, leaving her brother to take care of her and her dying mother. Despite being underestimated for her cerebral palsy, she’s become a survivor in her own right. A survivor who is thrust into Rhen’s world when attempts to save someone from becoming a victim. Entrusted to break the curse, Harper and Rhen begin to realise that breaking the curse may not save Emberfall from ruin.
The story draws you in from the beginning, a flurry of action told from the dual perspectives of Rhen and Harper. Tensions are high as Harper ends up in an unknown world, and her bravery is admirable if at times a little dangerous to herself. Kremmerer’s descriptive storytelling brings the kingdom of Emberfall to life, a cold kingdom bereft of anyone but Prince Rhen and Commander Grey. Readers will get to know these characters intimately, and everyone will finish the story with a favourite. Though there isn’t much I can say without giving away too much of the plot, it’s one of my favourite retellings of Beauty and the Beast to date. There are some darker themes, subtle undertones of abuse that might make some readers weary. These themes give the story more substance, bringing it outside of a simple fairy tale and into one of human survival mentally and physically.
Although I cannot speak to the authenticity of Harper’s cerebral palsy, Kremmerer does note that it can affect people differently, and with Harper, it is manifested as a limp. I thought the way that this was addressed was very well done and more than once it is emphasised that while she had a physical limitation, it was not something she considered a weakness. Overall, Harper was my favourite character, with her fiery spirit and strong will. Though I enjoyed Rhen, I loved Grey a little more. There was something passionate about his actions, showing true care for Rhen and for Harper.
The romance is tender and burns slowly throughout the book, culminating into something sweet and focused on a relationship of trust.What makes it even better is that it doesn’t fall into traditional tropes that might happen in a fairy tale retelling. It was one of my favourite aspects of the book, the fact that it wasn’t love at first sight.
If I had anything to complain about, it is the fact that I wanted more. At around 500 pages there’s already quite a bit of story to go through, but I found myself flying through it fairly quickly. I need that sequel, and hate that I’m going to have to wait for it! I am rating this story 10/10, for bringing Harper, Rhen, and Grey to life in such a way that felt adventurous, thrilling, and makes me long for more.
About the Author
Brigid Kemmerer is the author of dark, contemporary Young Adult romances like MORE THAN WE CAN TELL and LETTERS TO THE LOST (Bloomsbury), as well as paranormal YA novels like THE ELEMENTAL SERIES and THICKER THAN WATER (Kensington).
Her next book will be her first foray into YA Fantasy, with A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, available January 2019 wherever books are sold. Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and four sons.
Originally published: 29 January 2019
Genres: Fairy tale, Young adult fiction, Fantasy Fiction