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.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 4.32 out of 5
29th January 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
There is blood under my fingernails. I wonder how many of my people I’ve killed this time.
I received a copy of this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My new review policy for 2019 is that I won’t review every book I read.
This is because I was starting to find writing reviews a bit like doing homework and if you know you have to do ‘homework’ after each book it tends to suck the joy from the reading experience.
My ‘unofficial’ rule was to only review ARCS (otherwise what’s the point of requesting?) and any book that I had a strength of feeling about (either positive or negative). Anything ‘meh’ or ‘alright’ could be gently pushed aside.
But what happens if an ARC is an ‘alright?’ Well, I guess I have to review it.
I have rated A Curse So Dark and Lonely 3 stars out of 5. I enjoyed it. It was good. It had a fairly standard plot and followed a lot of typical YA conventions and tropes but it was an easy read with engaging characters.
It was – nothing special. There are a ton of Beauty and the Beast retelling’s and this can now be added to the pile. A Curse So Dark and Lonely seems to be very hyped at the moment as one of the more amazing versions but unfortunately for me it was average.
Our three main characters are Harper, Rhen and Grey with the story being told from the alternating POV’s of Harper and Rhen.
Harper is our ‘Beauty’ who has been unwittingly dragged from Washington D.C to Emberfall by Grey, loyal Commander of Prince Rhen, in the hopes that she will help remove the curse.
Rhen is our ‘Beast,’ cursed to live out season after season of turning into a different horrific beast until he can find a woman to fall in love with him.
The characters are engaging enough although at times Harper does fall victim to ‘not like other girls’ syndrome and despite all the talk about Rhen’s ‘arrogance’ the narrative portrays him more as desperate and self-loathing. I found it a bit laboured to read Harper’s constant complaining about his arrogance when I just felt I was being ‘told’ he was arrogant and not ‘shown.’
Although Grey is not a main character he is a very interesting secondary character (though as the sequel seems to be Grey focused that makes sense).
All three characters worked well together and I didn’t feel like the relationship between Harper and Rhen was the usual ‘insta-love’ which can easily occur within YA. The development of their relationship felt more organic and there may even be an additional complication with Grey and Harper’s possible feelings towards each other. This may play out in the second book but while I like the possibility of having some bumps in the road to love I was over love-triangles ten years ago.
Unfortunately I found the villain’s rather one-dimensional and rolled my eyes at the lack of substance behind their motivations. Revenge and power are the easiest ones to use but there needs to be reasons behind revenge and power other than the light ones provided here.
The world building was standard although I switched off from the explanations of Emberfall’s geography but then I found that I also switched off from the over explanations of strategy and war.
The plot had a tendency to meander and I found the first half of the book, where it was more about the build up of the characters relationships, more interesting than the second half. The second half became politics, action and Harper thinking a lot about her family.
Also, the end of the book is really not the time to introduce new characters – I had no emotional connection with them, despite being ‘told’ I should.
I’m not sold on the fact that this is part of a duology or possibly even a series because it really didn’t need to be and the twist felt like it was just something to serve as an entrance into the second book rather than make any meaningful perspective change towards the plot.
All in all, this was a solid YA book and I did enjoy reading it but for me it’s not a particularly standout or amazing book.