A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, Another Fairytale Retelling

My first read of August was the well-known Beauty and the Beast retelling by Brigid Kemmerer I had been dying to read since ages ago. A Curse So Dark and Lonely, which I managed to finish yesterday, left me with quite an impression, although honestly the silver spine was actually the thing that had caught my attention in the first place. Thus far, I don't think I've ever owned any book with a more beautiful spine than this one.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely follows the story of Rhen, a crown prince of a cursed kingdom called Emberfall. With autumn being the only season for years, Rhen is obligated to make a girl fall in love with him in order to break the spell. However, years have passed and Rhen has failed each time. As a consequence, a deadly beast inside Rhen will be unleashed at the end of every season and there's nothing Rhenor Grey, his commandercan do about it.

Meanwhile, a young girl named Harper lives in Washington, DC with her mom and brother Jake. With her dad leaving them in debt and her mom being very sick, it's a tough life she's living. However, when an inevitable force summons her into Emberfall, Harper finds herself stuck in it and there's nothing she can do except try to survive.

There are actually a lot of mixed reviews regarding this duology on Goodreads, and while I personally found this book quite interesting, I could understand why some people might not feel the same way I did. A Curse So Dark and Lonely explored the potential of the famous tale Beauty and the Beast quite uniquely, though in a few ways, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it lacked something. Fortunately, the three main characters in this book successfully made up for it:

  1. Harper
    In addition to being well developed, Harper’s character was solid. Having cerebral palsy that caused her to limp didn't make her less attractive nor that it slowed her character progression. She was the kind of heroine who didn't give up easily even though she had reasons to. 

  2. Rhen
    Aside from being very reserved and clever, Rhen's way to handle his lowest point including in it his vulnerability was quite admirable. I hadn't exactly fallen for him in this first installment, though in the end, I began to like him a lot. A little confession to make: I was honestly a little bothered by the way he kept calling Harper 'My Lady', but since I eventually got used to it, I suppose it was okay.

  3. Grey
    There was admittedly a short period of time when I thought there would be a love triangle between Grey, Harper, and Rhen though thankfully it didn't happen. Grey was too loyal and too brave (while also a little scary), and I very much adored his friendship with Harper.

All in all, Kemmerer admirably did a great job sketching her three main characters badass and lovely. A strong connection was formed not only between Rhen and Grey, but between Harper and Grey, and Harper and Rhen also. Even though I didn't feel there was enough chemistry for a romantic relationship between the latter, I'm still very eager to find out what the second installment has in store for us, and whether I'll like the romantic development better there.

Despite my initial struggle throughout the beginning chapters, A Curse So Dark and Lonely was still an overall enjoyable read for me. It might have started out only as an okay, but it certainly got much better that at some point it eventually got me hooked. Even I still couldn't believe that the last few chapters managed to impress me as much as I couldn't believe that Harper did pull off the Princess of Disi facadeit was one thing to be amused and another thing to still adore the twist in the ending even when you had sort of seen it coming.

Actual rating: 4★