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A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Review

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Brigid Kemmerer is a young adult contemporary, paranormal and fantasy author. Her novel, MORE THAN YOU CAN TELL, is a companion to her acclaimed 2017 release, LETTERS TO THE LOST. Her first books included The Elementals series and THICKER THAN WATER. Her newest YA novel, A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY, is a fantasy Beauty and the Beast retelling with a contemporary twist.

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY follows Prince Rhen and teenage Harper, whose worlds collide when Harper is transported into his world in order to break the curse ruining his kingdom of Emberfall. Harper, who lives in present-day Washington, D.C., is not thrilled about being wrenched out of her life while her mother is dying, her father is absent and her brother is desperately trying to keep the family afloat. Meanwhile, Rhen has almost given up on saving his kingdom, but falling in love with Harper is his last chance to break the curse and be rid of the monster devastating his kingdom.

"Kemmerer succeeded in writing a compelling fantasy story that is the perfect cover-to-cover read. Every time I picked the book up, I had no problem immersing myself in this world."

While the entire plot is based on the need for Harper and Rhen to fall in love, that is not what they spend most of their time focused on. A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY is powerful because it is not entirely focused on the romance but the implications of the romance. Along the way, Harper helps Rhen repair his kingdom, which was probably my favorite element of this book. Even though she is new to his world and customs, Harper steps up when Rhen has almost wholly given up. Almost immediately after I started reading this book, I knew I would soon fall in love with these characters, their humor and their opposing worlds. The novel is always enjoyable, and I could not keep myself from laughing when Rhen started calling Harper “my lady” because it goes against what someone from today’s society, like Harper, would ever be called.

One of the first characters that Harper meets is Grey, Rhen’s commander of the Royal Guard. He brings her to Emberfall to break the curse. The castle is inhabited with only Rhen and Grey at the start of the book, but readers soon meet several other characters. However, the cast of characters is relatively small, which means that the main characters develop and their relationships are first and foremost in the story. While Grey starts the story closed-off, he quickly became the most interesting character for me, and the one I am most interested in learning more about in the sequel. 

Having read both Kemmerer’s LETTERS TO THE LOST and MORE THAN YOU CAN TELL and being absolutely blown away, my expectations for A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY were incredibly high. I was intrigued that Kemmerer was writing fantasy and wanted to know how her writing would change from her typical dark contemporaries. Kemmerer succeeded in writing a compelling fantasy story that is the perfect cover-to-cover read. Every time I picked the book up, I had no problem immersing myself in this world.

Engaging and charming, A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY is likely to be on my favorites list of this year. Many compare this novel to A COURT OF THORNES AND ROSES, so I would try reading this book if you are a fan of Sarah J. Maas. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary or fantasy because it has a unique blend of both. Fans of Kemmerer’s contemporaries may find that this novel has a lighter tone, but it is just as addicting, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

Reviewed by Grace P., Teen Board Member on February 13, 2019

A Curse So Dark and Lonely
by Brigid Kemmerer