Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2)
Brigid Kemmerer
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published January 7, 2020

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About A Heart So Fierce and Broken

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken on Goodreads

My Review

I’m still pretty over the moon to have had a chance to read this book before its release date. Thanks, Bloomsbury! You’re the best!

I’d read some other reviews of the book early on that made me a little worried about reading A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN. Mostly, I worried that Rhen would end up being painted as this unlikeable character, and I just really like him, okay?! I didn’t want to lose my ability to like him.

No spoilers, though, so I won’t say more than this: I definitely felt my Team Rhen spirit challenged at times. But at the end of the day, I didn’t find this book to be one that forces you to choose between them. That’s certainly not what Grey wants, anyhow.

So, the real story: did I love it? YES. I loved falling back into the story world. I loved the return of characters from A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY. The new characters took a little getting used to– I wasn’t sure if they were going to trample my old loyalties or make me fall in love with them. I do have some new favorites. (Iisak, for instance.)

One of the things I’ve seen discussed a lot with this book is the very feminist rule of Karis Luran and her people. I liked that there were some conversations between Grey and Lia Mara about gender roles and equality, courtesy and independence. The story explored those ideas in a really natural way and showed that a man can be both courteous toward a woman and respect her as an equal.

I also loved the message that cruelty and strength aren’t the only kind of power. We see it in Emberfall as Rhen wrestles to bring his people back to faith in his rule. We see it as Lia Mara wrestles with her own value, because she’s been taught to believe that her mother’s way– cruelty and strength– are the only way to rule over others, and Lia Mara isn’t good at those things. She has the opportunity to appreciate and value her gifting as a strategist, and her strength of will and determination, even if her family or her people never appreciate those things.

While A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN does continue the story of A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, it doesn’t continue with a new re-imagined fairy tale (which is fine… just pointing out the difference). It does leave plenty of room for a third book and lots more adventure with characters I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

If you like strong female characters and strong heroes, definitely add A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN to your list. It reminded me a bit of GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson (who wrote a __ of __ and ___ title back before it was cool, I might add.)

A Heart So Fierce and Broken on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Harper’s brother is gay and in a relationship with a young black doctor. Harper has Cerebral Palsy.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently (usually by Harper’s brother).

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Some references to sex.

Spiritual Content
Some characters have the ability to use magic.

Violent Content
Situations of peril and torture (whipping). Characters witness others being killed or wounded. Some brief graphic descriptions.

Drug Content
Some characters drink alcohol and say or do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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