C.G. Drews's Reviews > A Curse So Dark and Lonely

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
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really liked it
bookshelves: epic-fantasy, magical-fantasy, read-2019, disability, young-adult, retelling

This book is like receiving a warm magical hug...and then a swift smack in the face all at once. Which, aww, that is amazing. That is just what I'm here for! I absolutely adore Letters to the Lost (like pls put it on my all time favourites list) so I had high hopes I'd adore Kemmerer's foray into epic fantasy too. And well OF COURSE. (I also have her Elemental series on my TBR...this year = Year of Kemmerer.)

➸ this is a beauty and the beast retelling!
I'm a ferocious fan of retellings, but I like them to bring something fresh to the old stories. And this one did. It's obviously still Beauty and the Beast, but the plot twists were fresh and the characters felt new and I adored how this version has eternally replaying "Seasons" where Rhen tries again and again to break the curse -- but he dies. And he reboots. And has to do it all over again. And over the course of the season, he has to make a girl fall in love with him as he slowly turns into a monster. 

So basically he is in a Groundshog day of eternally being eighteen, a monster, and everyone hates him. HAve a good life Rhen.

Note: He is not having A Good Life.

➸ the magical castle was my favourite thing
It's also stuck in time, so it's this flawless cheerful and permanently lush and opulent castle (or prison) and it just mocks how horrible Rhen's life is. Sweet music plays. Delicious food appears out of nowhere. It's beautiful and eternal....and empty. Because his whole family is murdered, his kingdom is falling apart. He's down to one guard (Grey). And this is the last season before the monster destroys him forever.

➸ but let's talk about Harper ok?!
She was a fierce bucket of live-wire SPARKS. While Rhen is the Prince of a magical world called Emberfall, Harper hails from good ol' earth (D.C. to be specific) and has a horrible home life. Her brother is a criminal, her mum is dying, and she gets kidnapped and zapped to a completely different dimension. So to say she is enormously pissed off is an understatement. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ She does NOT sit down and take this quietly. She will stab u. Twice. She also has cerebral palsy which I loved, because seeing badass girls with disabilities in magical settings is something YA needs.

➸ And shhh shh a moment for my fave: Grey.
I confess he was my absolute favourite of the whole book. He's a secondary character, but I rotated shipping him with Harper AND Rhen. At least in the beginning, lol lol. He's Mister Solemn Loyal Soldier Sir (but secretly plays with kids and is soft™) and he's the mum-friend and the protector. He will BLEED for Rhen and Harper. 


➸ so let's talk about the romance...was it Stockholm Syndrome?
Actually no! Obviously Harper is Not Thrilled™ to be kidnapped. But Rhen wasn't aggressive or domineering either. He was actually...dude, he was depressed. He hide it behind being aloof and princely, but he gets tortured by a witch at night and he knows he turns into this monster that kills people and he's just...so so done. He's tired and sad and smol.

Harper is this woman of ACTION (let's SAVE Emberfall! Let's FITE the bad guys! Let's CHANGE things!) and Rhen is this exhausted Slytherin just like...watching her go for it.

Harper: *charges off to save something*
Grey: should go after her
Rhen: nah
Rhen: let's wait till she's stabs something and falls over then we'll help

➸ The ending freaking ruined me also, thanks for that, and how was your day?
I'm just pining for the next book. I was blatantly HIT with emotions and then left with so so many questions. The plot twist? I applaud. The end was full of monstrous action scenes, blood and viscera, aching hearts and shredded hopes.
(view spoiler)

➸ it was very long though
So the pacing was a bit slow for me. But that saying...this was important to really develop Harper and Rhen's relationship.

This is a beautifully vivid, lush and heart-wrecking retelling that pushes together people who think they have to fight alone. But they absolutely don't. It's a story that weaves loneliness and wanting together, threaded with a girl who brings hope to a boy who is terrified of the monster inside him.
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Quotes C.G. Liked

Brigid Kemmerer
“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”
Brigid Kemmerer, A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Reading Progress

May 3, 2016 – Shelved (ebook Edition)
May 3, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read (ebook Edition)
February 7, 2019 – Started Reading
February 7, 2019 – Shelved
February 9, 2019 –
page 112
22.58% "Harper: I want answers!
Rhen: you...want to play cards??
Harper: a n s w e r s
Rhen: do you...want a nice drink?
Rhen: do you want a snack"
February 10, 2019 – Shelved as: epic-fantasy
February 10, 2019 – Shelved as: magical-fantasy
February 10, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019
February 10, 2019 – Shelved as: disability
February 10, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult
February 10, 2019 – Shelved as: retelling
February 10, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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Laura I love everything about this review. It's so perfect.

Jess ✩ this is the best review i've ever seen

C.G. Drews Aw thank you, everyone!


Kristen Best review!

Jamie Dacyczyn Great review! Totally summed things up better than I could have. The potential pitfalls and they way they were avoided, the personalities (Harper seems like she should be a Mary Sue but somehow isn't??), and I totally forgot to mention Noah in my own review. He's just like, "WTF....but all right, let's get some shit taken care of." Well done!

rachel ☾ i totally thought the plot twist was going to be rhen & grey but the ending it was just *chef kiss* perfect anyway

Jazzie This review is the best review that has ever reviewed! It basically covered everything that I felt while reading this book. Like COMPLETELY on point. Now I don't know what to do with myself because cook two isn't out yet and I need it. 😓

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