A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (496 pages)
In Washington, DC, Harper is a high school senior whose mother is dying of cancer and whose brother is working to pay off their father’s debt. But when she intervenes with an oddly-dressed man trying to kidnap someone, she’s suddenly transported to the magical land of Emberfall. Just as she’s never let her cerebral palsy hold her back, being trapped in a fantasy world with a cursed prince and a terrifying monster isn’t going to stop her from getting back to her family.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it takes many creative departures from the original. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I was surprised when the story changed direction, usually thanks to Harper’s bold decisions. It made for a fresh and exciting read! However, the story started slow, probably due to the dense world-building. Luckily, less than a hundred pages in, the pace picked up, grabbing and holding my attention until the end.
The dynamic between the three main characters is what I loved most. Harper’s a strong leading lady, not cowed by the stoic Commander Grey (the oddly-dressed man who transports her to Emberfall) or by the handsome yet troubled Prince Rhen (the cursed “beast” of this tale). They all grow and change as the story progresses, especially Harper who transforms from an overshadowed little sister to a heroine in her own right.
The Bottom Line: 4.5/5 Brookie Stars
This fast-paced epic fantasy springs forth from a well-crafted world with unforgettable characters. I’m eager for the sequel, especially since it will extend past the fairy tale we all know and delve into uncharted territory, forging a path of its own.
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Jamie Mitchell is a writer, library assistant, former bookseller, and all-around lover of the written word. She’s currently working on her fifth novel, and if you’re wondering where the other four are, they’re safe on her laptop and in need of rewriting. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, and enjoys traveling, bookstagramming and experimenting with gluten-free flours.
Favourite book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Favourite brunch spot: 1823 Bakehouse