High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Young Adults
Cursebreakers, Book # 1
January 29th 2019
March 3, 2021 March 5, 2021
Beat the Backlist, Library Love, The Backlist Reader, Virtual Mount TBR
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. 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.
About the book
A Curse so Dark and Lonely is the first book in The Cursebreakers trilogy. It is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and therefore is somewhat a fairytale-like Young Adult. We are in Washington, DC, where Harper lives with her brother and mother, sick with cancer. While she is helping her brother (involved in petty criminal acts due to their father leaving them in debt), she sees a man kidnap a girl. To save her, Harper attempts to hit the man, but suddenly finds herself in a new world that she doesn’t recognise. The man is Gray, the Commander of the Emberfall royal family, a world parallel to ours. The prince is Rhen and he is the beast of the “fairy tale” but he is a particular beast because he becomes a monster only at the end of the autumn season, when the girl he kidnapped from the other world, doesn’t fall in love with him.
In fact, Harper is the 328th girl who tries to break the curse. Will she succeed? And what will happen, now that she is trapped in this world, to her world and her family since she wasn’t in an idyllic situation before she was kidnapped?
What I think
I love Beauty and the Beast, it has always been my favorite Disney movie. The only thing missing here is the library… However, given my disappointment with ACOTAR (can you see I was really disappointed by the amount of times I mention it?) I was afraid to read this book for fear of another disappointment. But it was not so. Or at least until now, after the first book, because the disappointment for S.J. Maas happened in the second, so I hope it doesn’t happen here (but reading the plot of the second book, the author shouldn’t overturn the characters… or I hope). However, I loved Harper, especially because despite her having cerebral palsy, she doesn’t let that stop her. In fact, when they wanted to pass her limp as a battle wound (for the reason why they want this, you have to read the book) she immediately made it clear that she was born this way and she is not ashamed.
I also like the fact that in the end Rhen is not a perennial beast, but only in a certain moment of the curse, but despite this he has not managed to make any of his chosen girls fall in love with him. Also I like that since Harper arrived he has kind of woken up and understands that his kingdom is suffering and so he wants to help his people.
The chapters are not very long, they are narrated from the point of view of Rhen and Harper and are so pressing especially at the end that it is impossible to put down the book. To say, I read 250 pages on the last day and for me it’s a super record nowadays. I read the book in English and I had no problems with any words and in any case the English is within everyone’s reach.
Harper is the Beauty, as mentioned she has cerebral palsy from birth (obviously) but that doesn’t stop her. She didn’t have an easy life because when her mother fell ill with cancer her father went out of his way to help her, but that left a lot of debt. When he ran away, the debts passed to Harper’s brother, Jake, who goes out of his way to pay them back especially now that her mother is at the end. I like the fact that she has a head of hers, she is not the usual Beauty who is subjugated by the beast or who goes out of her way to irritate him. Also the beast is not really a beast as we know it.
Rhen is the beast. Its commander, Gray, is in charge of finding the possible “Cursebrakers” who might break the curse. But he doesn’t just kidnap by accident, Rhen told him to ask the girls if they want to spend a season in his castle and they are usually all without family. Harper is the anomaly because she was not the chosen girl. Plus Rhen is good, (I mean he isn’t the arrogant boy of the real fairy tale), he made a mistake that got a spell cast on him, but he’s not an evil character. What he did while he was the beast (the monster or creature as it is called by his people) is not excusable, but from the first time he turns into a beast he always tries not to hurt anyone.
Gray is adorable. His oath to protect the royal family plays a big part in the story but that’s not the only thing that keeps him next to Rhen with each passing season and the spell isn’t broken. And even though I understood the final twist (because yes there is a twist to introduce the second book) I liked it and can’t wait to understand how the story ends.
The enchantress Lilith is terrifying, but I liked her as an antagonist. She is the classic woman who wants power and when she doesn’t get it she has to piss everyone off but I like her as bad person.
Can I say that I also liked the final creature? Because apparently the beast is always a different creature every season that passes and this one we read about is wonderful. Which in the end also made me swoon a little as if it were a normal pet… I know I’m out of my mind.
I can’t wait to read the second book but alas I applied for it in the library and I still have about 9 weeks Luckily I requested the third one right away so then I don’t have to wait (maybe I get the third before the second! They are only a week apart.) Anyway, I really want to see how it ends and how the relationships that started in A Curse So Dark and Lonely develop.