A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published on January 29, 2018
About A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Fall in love, break the curse.
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.
I love the way some of the elements of Beauty and the Beast were reimagined in A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Instead of appearing as a monster 24/7, Prince Rhen relives the same season over and over knowing that at the end of the season, he’ll turn into a bloodthirsty monster and have no memory of himself. The monster will kill anyone in his path, so even while Rhen is human, he’s tortured by the guilt of what he’s done as a monster in the past and filled with dread at what will happen the next time.
Rhen’s only surviving companion is Grey, the last surviving member of the Royal Guard. I loved Grey. He’s sharp, focused, and loyal. The only thing that worried me about him was how much I liked him—I worried he’d steal the show. (Looks like he’ll get his own chance to tell a story, though. I wasn’t expecting a sequel to this book, but the ending definitely sets up for one.)
Let’s talk about Harper. She’s spunky. She’s brave. She loves her family with her whole heart. She’s so moved by the suffering of the villagers in Emberfall that she begins to find ways to fight for them. And her compassion wakes Rhen’s passion for his people. I loved that.
One of the cool things to me about >em>A Curse So Dark and Lonely was the way the genres collided. The contemporary parts set in present-day DC really read like contemporary YA. The fantasy parts had a really distinct fantasy feel to them as well. I thought that was really well done and maintained perfectly through the whole book.
The end threw me a little bit, though. I don’t want to give away details. But it’s unclear which actions change things—even the characters seem unsure. I’m hoping that the second book makes all of this clearer.
All in all, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a must-read for fairy tale lovers. It’s a rich, beautiful re-imagining of the story packed with great characters. Great for fans of Robin McKinley or Wendy Spinale.
Harper’s brother is gay. He’s in a relationship with a young black doctor. Harper has Cerebral Palsy.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Harper finds pictures of her brother with a boyfriend she didn’t know he had. The way they look at each other tells her they’re in love. Before the curse, Rhen slept with a young woman. (No details.)
A powerful curse transforms the prince into a monster at the end of each season. The sorceress visits him throughout the season to gloat and punish him using her magic. The prince’s remaining guard has the ability to cross into present day Washington DC for one hour each season to bring back a girl who can hopefully break the curse.
The sorceress tortures Rhen and others, causing a lot of pain and sometimes leaving wounds. The monster has killed many people and left a lot of carnage behind. Some scenes include brief graphic descriptions of blood and gore left behind or of battles with the monster.
The prince and others drink alcohol.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.