A Curse so Dark and Lonely

A Curse so Dark and Lonely
Brigid Kemmerer
Published date
Bloomsbury YA

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast fairy tale for young adults. This was my favourite story when I was a kid, so I was very excited to read it!

Rhen is a cursed prince, and when I say cursed, I don’t mean he just looks ugly and reproachful. At the end of each season, he turns into a monster, he loses any awareness of who he is and surrenders to his animal instincts to kill whoever stands in his way. After that, the season resets and starts again from the beginning. But dead stay dead. Always. He tries hopelessly to find a girl who can break this horrible curse, but so far to no avail.

Harper is a poor girl from Washington DC, who struggles to live a normal life while her mother is on her death bed, the father is nowhere to be found, and debtors are knocking to the doors. She is accidentally taken to enchanted Emberfall, and she is not happy about it. She doesn’t want to hear about any curses, enchantresses or monsters, she just wants to go back home. But unfortunately, there is no easy way back from this fairy tale kingdom.

The book is obviously a romance put in a fantasy setting. I’m not usually a fan of this genre, but as it is Beauty and the Beast, which I always loved, it’s an exception. And it was really quite a story. It was not simple; the main character was not a naïve and stupid girl who falls for a prince. She tries to find her way home and, in the process, gets to know said prince better. The story around a romance is an interesting one. A kingdom, left to itself, started to turn to ruin, people are suffering without a ruler to help them, and aggressive neighbours are preparing for the smooth takeover of unprotected land. Rhen and Harper are trying an enormous gamble to at least save the people of Emberfall.

The main character, Harper, is a fierce girl, full of courage and compassion. She is also full of doubts and often lacks confidence. She also has a health condition called cerebral palsy, which makes her movements far from graceful and limit her physical abilities. The author wanted to show us a strong and capable girl who accepts her shortages and moves forward anyway. It was an excellent addition to the story. Too often, characters are far too perfect in every way, which makes them less real.

I was really invested in this story. It caught my attention from the beginning, and I was curious how the author will deal with this classic fairy tale. I enjoyed the characters’ struggle to save the falling kingdom and felt the romance itself was just an addition to that story. I also liked Grey, the Guard Commander, who was a peripheral character. He was far more interesting then Rhen, and I immediately liked him. And I’m delighted that in the next book, A Heart so Fierce and Shattered, there will be chapters from his point of view too.

If you like classic fairy tale retellings, I’m sure you will like this one. I recommend it especially to all fans of Beauty and the Beast; you will not be disappointed!