A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, a retelling of a classic, cerebral palsy
Format: I read the paperback version but it comes in hardback and on kindle as well
Rating: 5 Stars
I’ll be honest here, I’ve actually read A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer before so this might be cheating but whatever haha. There’s also spoilers ahead I’m afraid, I haven’t quite worked out how to create a spoiler free review yet/too lazy too.
Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall, is cursed. Forced to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he can only be freed by love. But at the end of each autumn he is transformed into a beast hell-bent on destruction, and after so many failed attempts, his kingdom and its people are barely holding on.Harper’s life has never been easy, but she’s learned to be tough enough to survive. She won’t let anything hold her back, not her cerebral palsy or her mother’s deteriorating health. But when she is sucked into Rhen’s world, nothing is as it seems. Powerful forces are standing against Emberfalll … and it will take more than a broken curse to save it from utter ruin.
First impressions of the book itself are a big yes from me. It’s beautiful and bold, hello the spine is holographic (paperback version, unsure of the hardback or special editions) oh and there’s a map which is always a massive plus for me! There’s a sticker which lets readers know that this is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so you at least know what you’re getting yourself in for. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite Disney films so a modern retelling is absolutely up my street.
The characters help to make this book what it is, they’re likeable, Rhen and Grey are on the right side of brooding, they have some amount of self awareness, with Rhen being pretty resigned to the truth. Rhen and Grey are your classic rugged, handsome prince and sidekick, but Grey is so much more than that. He’s pretty obedient, but the last few chapters are pretty revealing, I honestly can’t wait to see how his story plays out. Am I in love with Rhen and Grey? Absolutely.
Harper has to be one of my favourite female characters ever, she’s so much more than your quintessential female heroine. A main theme throughout the book is Harper and the fact that she has cerebral palsy, I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable about cerebral palsy but I love that Harper doesn’t let it define her, it affects her (she explains to Rhen what cerebral palsy is and how it’s affected her; she has a limp) throughout the book but she never lets it stop her. I felt like Brigid was respectful when dealing with it and she also includes a message about cerebral palsy in the book. Harper is a great character, she’s not just some defenceless girl flouncing around a castle wearing pretty dresses (which is probably what I would do haha), she steps up to the bar and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. I think it’s great that as this is a young adult novel and those that will read it might be younger than me will have someone like Harper to look up to, who shows you that you don’t have to let a lifelong condition define your life.
With Lilith, I’m getting some serious Amarantha and Maeve vibes (any Sarah J Maas fans out there?), she’s your typical beautiful enchantress/ animal that likes to play with their food before they eat it and I feel like that says it all.
Now lets talk about ships! The first I read this I was shipping Harper and Grey so hard but now I’ve read it again for a second time I’m leaning towards Harper and Rhen, possibly even both haha. I like how it’s a left on a bit of an edge with Rhen unsure if Harper broke the curse or not and that she’s not sure if she loves him. It would have been such a cliche if she suddenly realised she was in love with him, but I love that she’s willing to try! I won’t lie I have a feeling she may end up with Grey (you heard it here first 😏 )
This is an outstanding retelling, it’s clever, I love the alternate points of view, the beast is surprising. I think you can tell it’s a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast but it’s so cleverly done I don’t even care. I don’t think it’s as predictable as you’d expect for a retelling, there’s still plenty of twists and turns. There’s a brilliant quote in ACSDAL which goes along the lines of…
When the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light
Now, for me this quote is on par with Albus Dumbledore’s quote on light and darkness so for me this absolutely contributes to this book being one of my favourite books of 2019.
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light
A hugeee FIVE STARS for A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I cannot wait for the sequel. You can check out ACSODAL here. *Affiliate Link*