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Brutal Curse

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Prince Carden of Tierney lost his home, family, and claim to the throne in one fell swoop when he rebelled against his father for a cause he knew was right. Instead of wallowing in despair, he embarks on a new journey, starting a new life on the Southern Isle. When he finds himself caught in a web woven by the famously ruthless fae queen, Coeur, he insults her and she vows to teach him the most difficult and heart-breaking lesson he will ever learn: that humans are incapable of love, and that hearts are beastly things.

Arabella wasn’t really living, she was existing and surviving as best she could. A chance encounter with Carden changes everything for her, but the deadly game he’s dragged her into might cost her life.

Still, she agrees to play. The rules the fae queen gives them are vague, and it’s obvious there are things Queen Coeur isn’t telling them. She’s sure of it. But what she does know is that together, she and Carden must pass a series of tests and trials. If they fail, game over. But if they succeed, she just might be able to restore her family and carve out the life she’s always envisioned.

282 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 2, 2018

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About the author

Casey L. Bond

59 books1,338 followers
RONE Award-winning author Casey Bond lives on a rural farm in West Virginia with her husband and their two beautiful daughters. She writes phoenixes – gloriously flawed and morally gray characters that fiercely rise from the ashes of their circumstances.

Worldbuilding is one of her favorite pastimes. She thinks thunderstorms are better than coffee and that watching a meteor shower is the closest thing to magic you might ever see. She’s a firm believer that every amazing book needs a world you want to wrap yourself in, a character you want to win, and a love you would fight for.

Casey is the author of When Wishes Bleed, Gravebriar, House of Eclipses, and Where Oceans Burn.

@authorcaseybond on social media sites.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 75 reviews
Profile Image for Brittany.
836 reviews111 followers
May 2, 2022
With the comparison to two of my favorites Alice and Wonderland mixed with Beauty and the Beast, I thought it sounded intriguing. Meh I am just not feeling it- DNF @ 45%. I tried super hard to power through but I am just not connecting to the story or the characters. Im kinda bummed - very rarely DNF but it’s just not for me.
Profile Image for Darque  Dreamer .
360 reviews47 followers
November 8, 2018
Brutal Curse is gloriously dark and enchanting. It's a unique twist on two beloved, classic tales that will leave you breathless. If you love fae, magic, and and a little bit of mayhem, you will enjoy this one!

I could not put this one down. I read it in one sitting and adored every minute of it. It was daring and alluring and oh so exciting!

I loved the twist on two classic faerie tales (yes, I consider Alice a faerie tale), and I loved how it still felt like its own faerie tale. It had everything I love in a faerie tale. There was magic, trials and adventure, a lesson to be learned, romance, and a satisfying ending. It was perfect.

The world Casey created was fantastic. It was so rich and vivid and it really made me visualize both stories, kind of mixed together. It also had its own layer of uniqueness to it. And then there were the characters.

Arabella was my favorite. I thought she was bold, brave, beautiful, and witty. I loved how she represented both Alice and Belle from the two tales, but still kept her own characteristics about her. She went through a perilous trial in the story and was better for it.

I also adored both Carden and Rule. Carden had a little growing up to do, but he was still brave and sweet and added that prince charming layer to the tale. Rule was dark and seductive and added a layer of intrigue and mystery to the tale. They almost represented light and dark, but also symbolized choice.

Casey also made sure to include characters influenced by both stories. There were characters that, in one way or another, represented The Mad Hatter, The Rabbit, The Red Queen, and the Beast's cursed servants in the castle. And, obviously, The Beast was represented, and I even feel like Gaston's essence was there.

This was a glorious tale of finding one's self, of overcoming obstacles, and fighting evil. It was about love and friendship, and darkness and passion. It had a psychological layer of inner reflection and morality to it, and it offered the best bits of both classic tales, as well as its own originality. It was enchanting and captivating and oh so mad!

Thank you to Lady Amber's Reviews and PR and the author for providing me with this free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review, and as part of the blog tour!
Profile Image for Andy.
2,354 reviews176 followers
March 11, 2019
3.5/5

I received a free copy from the author through YA Book Stop on Facebook in exchange for a honest review.

What an interesting fairytale retelling. This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast mashed with Alice in Wonderland. There were clear elements from each fairytale present. After a chance meeting outside her village, Arabella is whisked away to play Queen Coeur's deadly game with Carden, the runaway prince from the neighboring realm. Both want to hide secrets from their past and the troubles they've run from. In order to win Queen Coeur's game, they must work together to fight their demons and outsmart her otherwise they'll be dead by the end of the game.

For five days, they'll have to survive the torments the Queen dreams up and at night they must dine with the court which holds its own obstacles. One of them is the Queen's son, Rule, who attracts Arabella's attention on the first night. Arabella and Carden try to wade through the dangers together until the Queen turns Carden into a beast subject to her whim every night.

This was a fascinating twist on the normal fairytales. For the most part, I did enjoy the story line and how Arabella and Carden would work together. The romance part didn't make me swoon, but I didn't mind them together either. The part that kind of made this messy, was Rule. He suddenly had POVs after about half of the book and I think the mystery around him would've been more shocking if he didn't have a POV.

The ending felt a bit rushed to me as well. There were some things that happened and the only explanation given was "magic". Which like okay, but magic isn't the end all, be all. That was the only major question I was left with.

Overall, a good story with interesting characters and several turns I didn't see coming.
Profile Image for Bonnie (A Backwards Story).
416 reviews224 followers
Read
May 6, 2019
"Growing up, my brother had often reminded me that not all poisions taste bitter. Queen Coeur was a bitter person, one that everyone knew was deadly, which must be avoided at all costs.
I had to be the sweet poison no one expected or could even detect, especially her."

~BRUTAL CURSE

The best way to explain BRUTAL CURSE by Casey L. Bond is that it has loose refrains of Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast running through its heart, with a villain who could take on Amarantha in her lair Under the Mountain in A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas. If those comps don't have you instantly intrigued for something fresh and page-turning (I seriously read this in one sitting!), here's a little more about the book and my thoughts. But this was my first Casey L. Bond book, and since she has other twisted retellings as well, I very much hope it won't be the last!

The novel switches between perspectives of our two protagonists: Carden and Arabella.

Prince Carden is a long way from home. He's given up his future crown and escaped his father, the king he could never please. He's looking for work and follows a trickster fae who leads him to Queen Coeur's estate. Once he steps foot on her grounds, he is arrested for trespassing and told he must participate in a deadly game, where he'll either win and leave with his life, or lose and be the next human Coeur decapiitates. To make things interesting, Coeur looks into his mind, sees his recent encounter with Arabella, who is unknowingly his heartmate, and decides to raise the stakes...

Arabella takes the opportunity to leave home and her vicious father when her brother comes home for a short trip. Her brother doesn't want her along, not realizing how bad she has it at home. She follows along anyway, and when spying on her brother exchanging money and goods with a mysterious man in a tavern, bumps into a boy looking for the same man. Their eyes meet and there's the flash of interest, of something that could be someday, and then each goes their own way. When Arabella loses her brother in the woods, she sets up snares to catch wildlife, desperate for food, and chases a rabbit that gets loose, never realizing he's a trickster fae in disguise until she is brought to Queen Coeur's palace and encounters the mysterious lad from the woods again, before being told that she's about to embark on the game of her life...

There are a lot of intriguing concepts curling the world together and creating a new blend. I really love the aspects at play from classic tales. Carden calls Coeur a beast, and so he becomes one on and off throughout the game, which changes his demeanor and the way he interacts with Arabella. There are invisible servants who are cursed themselves, another nod to Beauty and the Beast. Coeur herself is a queen who seems to have stepped out of Alice in Wonderland and her favorite means of punishment is decapitation. The trickster fae that leads both Carden and Arabella to Coeur's palace is, at one point, disguised as a rabbit -- a very late rabbit -- and the rabbit is his insignia. Ah, there is so much more as well, but I want to save some discoveries for you to discover and savor on your own!

BRUTAL CURSE is a fantasy that has romantic elements, but isn't focused on the romance. As readers, we're always saying, "They're fighting for their LIVES. Why are they more interested in making out!?" Casey seems to have taken that critique and made sure where, despite being heartmates, this is a world where survival is key. Plus, these two know nothing about one another and met by chance. They have to get to know one another. They need to learn to trust one another. They need to work together. They need a foundation to win the game before they can have a foundation for anything else. So if you're looking for a novel full of romance and swoon, this one isn't for you, but if you want one that's action-packed and actually focused on that action, you are in exactly the right place!

I enjoyed reading BRUTAL CURSE and would read another book from Casey. The ending was a little rushed and I went back and read the last chapter or two a second time to pick up on everything, but I still enjoyed the story I sat down with and would pick up another the next time I wanted a new take on a traditional tale!
Profile Image for evelina.
463 reviews82 followers
March 29, 2019
I just randomly stumbled upon this book in the app i use for audio- and ebooks. I wouldn't say that it is a bad book but it just didn't really engage me.
Profile Image for Jessica Belmont.
1,482 reviews44 followers
November 5, 2018
What an interesting twist on a fairytale loosely based on Alice in Wonderland. This is my first Casey L Bond novel, and it surely wont be my last. I’m thoroughly impressed with her ability to remind me of Alice in Wonderland while creating a new story full of fantastic characters and a unique world.

The pace of the story was great, and I didn’t wanted to put it down. I really loved Carden and Arabella. This novel has mystery and action, with a splash of romance. My kind of story.

I highly recommend checking this one out. Fairytale retellings can be really fun if done right, and this one is done right.

*I received a copy of this book as part of a blog tour. All opinions are my own.*
Profile Image for Amanda Evans.
Author 22 books107 followers
November 26, 2018
Having read Savage Beauty by this author, I automatically pre-ordered Brutal Curse and I wasn’t disappointed. This was a beautifully written, dark twist on Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast. The focus of the story is on Queen Coeur and her dark twisted game that lasts over five days.

Our two main characters Arabella and Prince Carden must band together to play the game and try to beat Queen Coeur. We also have Prince Rule who may or may not be one to trust.

Arabella and Carden are heartmates which is something Queen Coeur despises and she does her utmost to kill them both, destroying and separating them with truths they want to keep hidden.

This is a fast paced, action inspired tale that will have you turning the pages and staying up way past your bedtime. It’s dark, twisted, and brutal in parts. I absolutely loved it and was delighted with how the story played out. I never knew what the game would throw at Arabella or Carden and this kept me turning the pages.

If you enjoy dark fairy tales this is a story you will most definitely enjoy.
Profile Image for Blaire Hammond.
Author 18 books59 followers
February 26, 2019
Brutal Curse by Casey L. Bond Spoiler Free Review.

*I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for a free and honest review.*

I really enjoyed this book. This was an interesting, exciting, fast paced and emotional story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I couldn't help but give it a 4 out of 5 stars. The writing was excellent and the characters were well developed throughout the novel.

I adored the world building and the adventures throughout the book. It had me gripped and I was unable to put this book down! It was a really wonderful read and I can't wait to read more from this author. I loved the high stakes of the story and couldn't wait to see where this story went next as i rushed through each page! It was fantastic and I highly recommend picking this up!
November 9, 2018
"Hearts are beastly things."

I have been impatiently waiting to get my hands on this book because I am a sucker for a fairy tale retelling. So without further adieu...my review.

OMG. This is for sure not your classic children's fairy tale. It's more twisted and has more turns than anything I have read in a while. I actually couldn't put this book down.

The characters were phenomenal. I loved reading about Carden, Arabella, Rule and Queen Coeur. Each of these characters were such an amazing part of the story, which kept me wanting to read more.

The story-line was extremely addicting. Bond is a true storyteller by bringing for a slew of feelers in this magical fairy tale story. I was completely enchanted by the power of the words that flowed off of the pages of this book. Each turn within the story continued to get more twisted and addicting to read. I literally couldn't put this book down!! Each event was incredible and I never saw the outcome of the ending until the story and it's characters were ready to reveal it. I highly recommend this read!!
Profile Image for Katie Koziczkowski.
1,168 reviews1 follower
June 9, 2022
I enjoyed Brutal Curse! It was very intriguing and different which I enjoyed. It's got aspects of Beauty and the Beast, but not as much as I would have liked; it had more Alice in Wonderland aspects to it. I really liked Carden and Arabella. They're good people who have had a rough life. I was rooting for them to get their HEA the whole time. I had mixed feelings about Rule, I didn't know what to think of him most of the time. I 100% knew how I felt about Coeur, and that was pure hatred. She's evil to her core! I really wish there was a little more to the end, like an epilogue a little later down the line for more of an update; that would have made me like the book even more! Other than that I found Brutal Curse to be a great read!
Profile Image for Kalli Bunch.
395 reviews18 followers
February 23, 2019
The title of Brutal Curse is aptly named because this book is effing BRUTAL!!! Eyes bugging out, nail biting, edge-of-your-seat, yelling HOLY CRAP ON A CRACKER!!! I felt like Mel B half the time from AGT yelling WHAT JUST HAPPENED!??!?!??! So many twists...It was epic. It was a major twist on Alice in Wonderland, but you could kind of see a little beauty and the beast in there. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but I saw it. And the ending was so so good!!! I can't wait to read the next book from her! 5 stars and 2 thumbs!! Actually, can I borrow some hands?? HA!
Profile Image for Alicia.
86 reviews2 followers
February 22, 2019
Brutal Curse is a genius retelling of my two favorite stories Alice and wonderland and Beauty and the beast. I was sucked into the storyline from the moment i started reading it. I really enjoyed the relationship that Arabella and Carden developed. There were so many twisted twists and turns and I absolutely loved it! I can't wait to read more books by Casey L. Bond. She can definitely keep my attention.
Profile Image for Kayla.
19 reviews2 followers
November 16, 2019
I think I love everything Casey Bond writes! This was a good twist on the queen of hearts story from Alice in wonderland.
330 reviews
April 1, 2019
DNF at 33%

I've read and enjoyed a lot of fairy tale retellings, but this one has me bored. I don't feel connected to the characters at all and can't stomach the idea of listening to 7 more hours of it. Can't quite put my finger on what is missing...
Profile Image for Gemma McLaughlin.
125 reviews9 followers
July 3, 2020
Beauty and the Beast meets Alice in Wonderland?! Of course I didn’t hesitate to pick this one up! And I’m so glad I did! A fantastically well thought out retelling with a dark twist, it had all the right enchanting pieces of both fairytales thrown into a mix of magical fae that just worked.
Each character represented a fairytale one in a unique way from the fae Queen of Hearts ruling her own little kingdom with an obsession of colour, a runaway Prince she curses to become a Beast, our main protagonist who had a lovely balance of both Belle and Alice who followed the White Rabbit to the castle, as well as the Mad Hatter, the enchanted cursed servants in the castle, a version of Gaston that you couldn’t hate as well as our very own panther ‘Cheshire Cat’, also known as the dark and seductive fae Prince of Hearts.

The storyline was gruesomely thrilling, Arabella and Carden are both captured by the feared fae Queen Coeur to be partnered up and compete in her messed up mind games for all the kingdom to watch and enjoy. If they survive the five days together; they get to live, if they fail; they both die. Each trial tests them on their inner demons and guilty secrets, making them come to face the real reason they were both running away to start fresh from their own unbearable lives.

‘”What is that on your neck?” she asked, eyes transfixed on Arabella’s shard of glass.
“A remnant of my past,” Arabella answered elusively.
The Queen clucked her tongue. “The past is important, you know. Most humans prefer to forget it entirely. Why do you wear yours so boldly?”
“Because I want a different future.”‘

I really enjoyed the connections between the main characters, the tethers that bonded them together in one way or another, some being stronger than others creating a heartmate tether. Things became really interesting when the dark and brutal fae Prince Rule also shared a tether with our main protagonist creating an exciting love triangle. Of course we knew Carden was her heartmate from the start, but when his beast form started creating a wedge between them you didn’t know who was going to win Arabella’s heart in the end.

‘”Can you help her?”
“Of course, I can,” he answered. His enormous front paws stopped on a piece of pale tile. “The question is, will I help her?”
“It’s why you came here, isn’t it? Why you helped yesterday… You want her to win.”
The cat yawned, showing his incisors. “I want her to live.”
“Why?”
“Because life has become much more interesting with her in it,” he replied.
The panther stared quietly, not moving a muscle. There was only one person I knew who watched her so feverishly, and suddenly I realised who he was. “Rule?”
The panther bared its teeth at me and jumped into the mirror, the surface rippling like water in a still pond before settling and hardening.’

The author did a brilliant job at building the fantasy world that combined the dark mysterious castle hidden within an enchanted forest of sorts, protected by fae who did the bidding of the evil fae queen. The colourful castle itself was quirky and you definitely felt the Alice in Wonderland effect with each room and confusing corridor. I liked the little details in the story, like how each trial began by sending them down a dark hole to end up somewhere magically personally disturbing for the characters in order to drive them mad. The scenes themselves weren’t overly detailed, but they didn’t need to be, it just worked.

I did feel like a lot of the book felt rushed in areas, particularly during the trial games as well as the romantic connection between Arabella and Carden. You knew the queen wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty for the pettiest of reasons, so overall I felt the trials were really tame in comparison, you never felt any urgency in their situation and the fact that each game started at dawn and finish when the sun set, they felt unusually quick and uneventful at times and more like a trip down memory lane.
There was absolutely no romantic build up between Arabella and Carden which actually had me rooting for Rule since he was the mysterious anti-hero that kept intervening in order to help Arabella. Enough to make him go up against his own mother. The way he stared at her across the room, the way he took the appearance of Carden just for the chance to dance with her as well as his ability to save her from her own mind during the games was all so endearing, I couldn’t help but feel like their connection was so much stronger which made the ending slightly less impacting. I think this is why I couldn’t bring myself to give the book 5 stars. I would still highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fairytale retellings!
Profile Image for Gemma McLaughlin.
125 reviews9 followers
March 12, 2021
Beauty and the Beast meets Alice in Wonderland?! Of course I didn’t hesitate to pick this one up! And I’m so glad I did! A fantastically well thought out retelling with a dark twist, it had all the right enchanting pieces of both fairytales thrown into a mix of magical fae that just worked.
Each character represented a fairytale one in a unique way from the fae Queen of Hearts ruling her own little kingdom with an obsession of colour, a runaway Prince she curses to become a Beast, our main protagonist who had a lovely balance of both Belle and Alice who followed the White Rabbit to the castle, as well as the Mad Hatter, the enchanted cursed servants in the castle, a version of Gaston that you couldn’t hate as well as our very own panther ‘Cheshire Cat’, also known as the dark and seductive fae Prince of Hearts.

The storyline was gruesomely thrilling, Arabella and Carden are both captured by the feared fae Queen Coeur to be partnered up and compete in her messed up mind games for all the kingdom to watch and enjoy. If they survive the five days together; they get to live, if they fail; they both die. Each trial tests them on their inner demons and guilty secrets, making them come to face the real reason they were both running away to start fresh from their own unbearable lives.

"What is that on your neck?” she asked, eyes transfixed on Arabella’s shard of glass.
“A remnant of my past,” Arabella answered elusively.
The Queen clucked her tongue. “The past is important, you know. Most humans prefer to forget it entirely. Why do you wear yours so boldly?”
“Because I want a different future.”

I really enjoyed the connections between the main characters, the tethers that bonded them together in one way or another, some being stronger than others creating a heartmate tether. Things became really interesting when the dark and brutal fae Prince Rule also shared a tether with our main protagonist creating an exciting love triangle. Of course we knew Carden was her heartmate from the start, but when his beast form started creating a wedge between them you didn’t know who was going to win Arabella’s heart in the end.

‘”Can you help her?”
“Of course, I can,” he answered. His enormous front paws stopped on a piece of pale tile. “The question is, will I help her?”
“It’s why you came here, isn’t it? Why you helped yesterday… You want her to win.”
The cat yawned, showing his incisors. “I want her to live.”
“Why?”
“Because life has become much more interesting with her in it,” he replied.
The panther stared quietly, not moving a muscle. There was only one person I knew who watched her so feverishly, and suddenly I realised who he was. “Rule?”
The panther bared its teeth at me and jumped into the mirror, the surface rippling like water in a still pond before settling and hardening.’

The author did a brilliant job at building the fantasy world that combined the dark mysterious castle hidden within an enchanted forest of sorts, protected by fae who did the bidding of the evil fae queen. The colourful castle itself was quirky and you definitely felt the Alice in Wonderland effect with each room and confusing corridor. I liked the little details in the story, like how each trial began by sending them down a dark hole to end up somewhere magically personally disturbing for the characters in order to drive them mad. The scenes themselves weren’t overly detailed, but they didn’t need to be, it just worked.

I did feel like a lot of the book felt rushed in areas, particularly during the trial games as well as the romantic connection between Arabella and Carden. You knew the queen wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty for the pettiest of reasons, so overall I felt the trials were really tame in comparison, you never felt any urgency in their situation and the fact that each game started at dawn and finish when the sun set, they felt unusually quick and uneventful at times and more like a trip down memory lane.
There was absolutely no romantic build up between Arabella and Carden which actually had me rooting for Rule since he was the mysterious anti-hero that kept intervening in order to help Arabella. Enough to make him go up against his own mother. The way he stared at her across the room, the way he took the appearance of Carden just for the chance to dance with her as well as his ability to save her from her own mind during the games was all so endearing, I couldn’t help but feel like their connection was so much stronger which made the ending slightly less impacting. I think this is why I couldn’t bring myself to give the book 5 stars. I would still highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fairytale retellings!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jasmyn Aurielle.
60 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2020
Rating: 2.9 stars

(I don't even want to round up)

Review:

This book just messed me up on so many levels.

I liked the plot of the story and how it was a retelling of beauty and the beast mixed with Alice in Wonderland but there are so many things that took away from that.

But I'll get to that in a second.

Let's talk about the characters.

Cardon was the H in the story and the love interest of the h. In the book, there is a thing called a heart-mate which is kinda like a soulmate and Cardon was the h's heart-mate. I didn't like his character that much because he didn't have much of a personality and lacked presence. I bet if they the H and the h weren't bonded, they wouldn't look twice if they passed each other on the streets. Also, the book would have done fine if it didn't have dual POV and it was just in the POV of the h because Cardon's POV wasn't really necessary.

Arabella was the h in the story. I adored her because she was selfless when it came to other people. To try to restore her family and save Cardon, she willingly joined the Queen of Heart's game. She was witty, smart, and literally the main character of the story.

Rule was the character that ruined me. At the beginning of the book, I was willing to ship Cardon and Arabella because it seemed natural but (if not done right) insta-love kinda sucks. If anything, there was no chemistry between Cardon and Arabella. Rule and Arabella on the other hand had many conversations and a small quirk that was kinda like "their thing." If Cardon wasn't in the picture, this would have been a very interesting story because Rule is the son of the fae queen and would have to finally stand up to his mother to be with Arabella.

So now you know why I am absolutely ruined. The entire story was about how Arabella and Cardon had to survive the fae queen together but I'm over here in the corner shipping the wrong couple.

So that was strike one.

Stike two started at the end of the book

Strike three was how anti-climactic the ending was.



That's about it.
November 8, 2018
Prince Carden has left his kingdom behind in his search for a new life. While he isn’t sure exactly what he is looking for, he knows it is not to be stuck as a player in a deadly and ruthless game hosted by the infamous fae queen, Coeur. She’s out to prove to both Carden as well as her subjects that humans are incapable of love and that hearts cannot be trusted.

Arabella was barely surviving in a dreary existence. When she follows her brother into town in an attempt to escape her reality, she has a chance encounter with Carden. While brief, it’s enough for Coeur to lure Arabella into her wicked game as Carden’s partner.

Knowing death is most likely in their near future, Carden and Arabella agree to the fae queen’s rules and now must work to both outlast and outwit whatever she throws at them. The more time spent together, the more their hearts teacher to one another. But the game and the players are not always what they seem to be. Will Carden and Arabella be able to survive the game and explore life as heartmates, or will Queen Couer prove that hearts really are beastly things and that love doesn’t exist?

Based loosely on Alice in Wonderland as well as bits of Beauty and the Beast, Casey L. Bond weaves an extremely unique fairy tale adventure with Brutal Curse.

I’ve been rooting for Prince Carden since we first met him in Riches to Rags . . .he needed to find his very own happy ever after after helping others find their own. When he catches a glimpse of Arabella in the village, he instinctively feels connected to her. It’s only later that we realize just how connected they truly are.

I also fell in love with Arabella. The author always does an amazing job of writing strong, compassionate and intelligent female leads and Arabella is no exception. She knows exactly what is at stake when she agrees to be Carden’s partner in Couer’s deadly game and does her best to win for not just her, but for Carden and the rest of Couer’s subjects who live in fear and tyranny.

The ancillary characters such as Brave, Oryn, Esmerelda and Prince Rule are also bright spots in this fairy tale. Prince Rule captured my attention immediately and was the wildcard character so to speak . . . you knew all along the story would hinge upon him, you just didn’t know exactly how . . . and what an absolutely brilliant revelation it was!


Brutal Curse is full of twists and turns and amazing surprises and revelations throughout. There is no way for the reader to guess what is coming their way, and it’s simply amazing to get so lost within this fairy tale! 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
454 reviews3 followers
November 4, 2018
Fall into this wonderland! Brutal Curse is a brilliant book. I really loved the fairytale feel with a unique twist. This story is loosely based on Alice in Wonderland. I really liked the connection there. This book has mystery, action, and just a touch of romance. This is the third book in a series but can be read as a stand-alone.
The plot of this book was great. I really liked the connection with Alice in Wonderland. The author gave us just enough to feel the resemblance, but then turned around and made it her own unique story. I really liked the game aspect of this story as well. If you liked A Court of Thornes and Roses, then you will most likely like this book as well. It has a similar feel to it.
I liked the characters in this book. Carden is such a great character. I really liked him in the last book, but this book took him to a new level. The deepness of his caring is truly amazing. Then you have Arabella. She is such a strong and resilient character. I loved watching her fight tooth and nail for what she believed in.
Usually I would talk about heat in a book, but I don’t feel this book is much about heat. While there is obvious connection between the characters, the heat is muted by the storyline. With that being said, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would have liked a bit more romance, but I was happy with the way this story turned out.
The writing style of this book is good. The pace of the story is steady. The story is told from multiple points of view, but it is done in a way that is easy to read and relevant to the story. I liked the other characters in the story as well. As sad as it is to say, I really enjoyed the villain. She was written perfectly evil.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. This was a great fairy tale retelling. Carden is my favorite male of this series. He really endeared himself to me. I also really enjoyed Rule. I loved him just as much. I was torn between the two. The twists and turns in this story will keep your head spinning in a good way. I would recommend this story to others.
Ratings:
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Heat: N/A
Writing Style: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

*Reviewed for Seraphim Book Reviews*
Profile Image for Annette.
2,417 reviews107 followers
March 28, 2021
Where has this book been all this time and why has no one ever told me about it? The moment I discovered it, I was like: This book is something for me. So, I ordered it with my big March Haul this week and the moment it came in, it was staring at me and begging me to read it. I tried picking up another book, I really tried, but this book just didn't let me and eventually I decided to just give in and to pick it up.

I didn't regret it for a second. The moment I started I almost couldn't stop. The story was so thrilling. That's also because everything goes so fast and there's so much happening and going on and even though the book isn't that big we're meeting so many characters and we get to learn so much about these characters. I understand why beauty and the beast is also named in the description, but I think this is most of all a Wonderland story.

And not so much that it's bizarre and weird, but more that it's a big confrontation with yourself, who you are, who you can be, the parts you want to forget, the parts you want to hide and those things you're not quite proud of. Just like there is magic and there are unreliable narrators. As a reader, and as characters, it's impossible to know who's up to what, who we can trust and who is messing with us and the characters. And that's the true Wonderland spirit!

Just like the Queen or Hearts was a total Queen of Hearts with a lovely origin story. I wish her origin story was a little longer, she deserved that, but still. All the characters fit. The roles the characters play fit. There are a couple of reveals in the end that really change the entire story, but those are also the moments the pieces of the puzzle click and everything fits and makes sense. And despite everything, the ending really left me with a huge smile on my face.

And now I want this author's entire backlist!
Profile Image for Fridey.
66 reviews1 follower
August 7, 2020
Hmmm, not sure how to rate this book. So, I'm sorry, I might just be rambling left and right.

I loved Riches to rags and Unlocked but this one was quite different. Like the other two, I listened to this one, same narrators, I think they did a great job. I feel though, that I should have read this book instead of listening to it, which I might do in the future.



The characters where lovely (Arabella, Carden, Rule and Oryn) and the book was certainly a "page turner" and very eventful, it's not possible to be bored. But it was also heartbreaking as the hero's and heroine's past were presented before them. The evil queen was a master manipulator.

The book came with some very strong meaningful quotes (love those).

I would say, this is more for someone who loves Alice in wonderland; a book I read many, many years ago and didn't like at all. To me, Brutal curse was so much, much more entertaining and not stressful like I thought Alice in wonderland to be.

Recommend if you like Alice in wonderland, characters that share a special bond and that previously have had a rough life, manipulative evil villain and very few quiet moments.
Profile Image for Lindsy.
483 reviews9 followers
March 11, 2019
I put off reading this book for a few weeks but I wish I hadn't! I loved that this book is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a little bit of Alice in Wonderland thrown in. I was also getting some ACOTAR vibes with this book and I loved it. This story may be a retelling but it is definitely it's own story as well. Arabella and Carden are the main characters in this story and the game. They come from different backgrounds and family dynamics but still end up getting chosen to play the queen's game. Queen Coeur is like the queen of hearts but with her own twist. She choses the color of the day and makes people be pawns in a game she likes to play. She is simply brutal and doesn't have any emotion left in her. While I loved Arabella and Carden and the chemistry they had together; I really didn't like the Queen. I think these characters were written very well and you definitely couldn't help but root for everyone and hope the game ended well. I loved that the queens son Rule stepped in and helped them along the way. You learn why as the story goes on and I wasn't sure who was going to end up with who a few times because of all the chemistry with the characters. I'm glad you learn more about Arabella and her family as this story goes on also and that she learns what really happened to her family. I loved that this story has a good ending and I thought it was interesting how the ending was written. I was a little confused towards the end wondering if it was going to turn out to be all a dream but not exactly. I was really hoping the story wasn't going to end with them dying or getting there heads chopped off. I was able to get a copy of this story for an honest review.
Profile Image for Emily Goodman.
1,070 reviews31 followers
November 5, 2018
Casey Bond wows readers with Brutal Curse. Bond creates a unique spin on a classic bringing new life and adventure to a childhood favorite. In Brutal Curse, we finally get to see what happens to Carden, Prince of Tierney. We’ve followed Carden since the beginning of Bond’s retellings and seen this character journey from a pompous prince to one of the most endearing of Bond’s characters. With that being said, Bond retells these stories in a way that they all can be read as standalones allowing you as the reader to pick up your favorite fairy tales.

Brutal Curse is loosely based on Alice in Wonderland and somewhat based on Beauty and the Beast.. While there are elements such a cruel Queen, a cheshire cat and a few beasts, Bond puts her own spin on things by introducing Fae magic to this classic story cursing both Carden and his heartmate (sigh, I found this term so endearing!) Arabella to play one of the wicked Queen Coeur’s games. Adventure after adventure, from sunup to sundown Bond kept you guessing on the outcome of Carden and Arabella’s future. Arabella was strong, determined, and a survivor. A character that kept you coming back for more with each brutal curse chucked her way.

Bond is one of my favorite authors. Her classic retellings of my favorite childhood stories have been such wonderful additions to her already amazing novels. With each new release, Bond continues to make them her own and for that reason alone, you should check out Brutal Curse and all her other stories.
Profile Image for Rayna.
1,031 reviews4 followers
April 23, 2019
Enjoyable enough, but nothing amazing. I liked seeing more of Cardan and the struggles he faced, and Arabella was a great heroine that added life to this book. The queen was ruthless and vicious, but ended up falling a bit flat. This tale was mostly drawing off of Alice in Wonderland, with the tiniest splash of Beauty and the Beast.

The characters were definitely way better than the plot. They had complex histories and made morally gray decisions, making me unsure who to trust or who to like. The queen was playing mind games with Arabella and Carden the whole time, in addition to the series of trials they were forced to complete. Rule was the most difficult character to figure out, and I ended up really appreciating how he was written. The beginning and end of the book were weak plotwise, with the middle being much stronger thanks to the character development and backstory reveals.

This series of four connected standalones was mostly good (I would suggest skipping book two...) - they are quick reads with fairy tales retellings to fall back on for plot and such, but they weren't anything special and didn't have characters that completely stole my heart. Worth the read if you are really into retellings or looking for really light reads.
Profile Image for Lynn Give 'Em Hel Vetica.
168 reviews12 followers
December 21, 2020
This was an interesting Beauty and the Beast/Alice in Wonderland mashup. I'll start off by saying I loved Arabella. She was so fierce and awesome. She wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right, and she was quite cheeky as well.

She motioned to my cheek. “You have a little slut-colored gloss just there.”


I must say Carden seemed more interesting in the beginning when he was the mysterious stranger. I guess I'm not sure I quite understood why he kept being turned into a beast by Coeur. I ended up being much more entertained by Rule because his motivations were much more unclear. He was a mystery that I enjoyed untangling. Coeur reminded me a lot of Maleficent, only she never ended up redeeming herself.

Growing up, my brother had often reminded me that not all poisons taste bitter. Queen Coeur was a bitter poison, one that everyone knew was deadly, which must be avoided at all costs. I had to be the sweet poison no one expected or could even detect, especially her.


Quick but enjoyable read. I'll definitely be reading the others in this series.
Profile Image for Cristie Alleman.
128 reviews4 followers
September 25, 2018
Another must read Fantasy by Casey L Bond!!
Your going to want to read this tale of Beauty and the Beast meets Alice in Wonderland!!
Are you ready to enter Queen Couer's Game? I know Carden and Arabella were certainly unprepared when they found themselves in the Queen Kingdom.. They were thrown into a game no one thought they would ever win.. Unknown to Queen Couer her players have some secret allies who will threaten the Queen's chances of winning her own game.. Carden and Arabella will have to work together to win the deadliest game they've ever played... All the while the Queen is doing everything in her power to tear them apart and put the at odds with each other.. Will they survive or will Queen Couer be victorious once again and have their heads removed..

You've already met Prince Carden in Casey L Bond's other book Unlocked.. But don't worry you can read this and all the other books in this series as stand alones.. Although I definitely recommend each and every one of them..
November 8, 2018
I received a copy of Brutal Curse for my honest opinion.

At this point, I’m not even sure how many books I’ve devoured by Casey L. Bond, but I have yet to find one that isn’t spectacular.

She is a brilliant writer and her mind itself must be a magical, wonderous place to be. Ms. Bond brings those thoughts from her mind and brings them to life for the reader on every page, every chapter, every book. And there are not many authors in this genre that compare to Casey L Bond.

Brutal Curse, a loose retelling of Alice and Wonderland, is imaginative, creative and beyond unique. With both a strong plot and even stronger characters, you’ll find yourself sucked into the rabbit hole right from the beginning pages.

If you are looking for something different, a twist on the ordinary, then I highly recommend Brutal Curse by Casey L Bond.

I can easily give Brutal Curse 5 stars and I’ll throw in a glass of whiskey too.

Profile Image for ClaraLu.
41 reviews
January 23, 2021
Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment. I had read and loved Casey L. Bond's Riches to Rags and Unlocked, and had been excited to find out Carden's path. But, like I said it was a huge disappointment. I have read many many books, and this one was, by far, the worst. The author described many parts of the book, that I felt were unnecessary to the story, and only made it confusing. At times, I felt confused on where the main characters, Arabella and Carden, were and how they resolved their situation. All in all this book was very confusing, led away from the plot, and the characters were not very well formed.
However, if you have loved Casey L. Bond's books, in the past, then I highly recommend her two books Riches to Rags and Unlocked. They were both very good, well written, and well thought out and very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Sara.
234 reviews9 followers
March 10, 2022
I'm struggling on how to rate this one. It's a fresh, new retelling that fuses two stories that you would never think to combine, but also I don't think it was done well. I liked the Alice in Wonderland aspects, but I think the Beauty and the Beast ones could have been cut completely. I understand that the "beast" part of the story leads to the book's climax, but I think that what was written was weak and not emotionally enticing. The Game was...boring? Maybe I was just tired while reading this, but I did not feel the fear or urgency of the Game. There was no tension or suspense, so I could not emotionally connect to the characters and their fear. To be honest, I think my favorite character was Rule because he was the most interesting thing in this story. That's not to say that this book was all bad, I just think it could've been stronger without the Beauty and the Beast stuff.
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