I Was Disappointed of Grey from A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

After one whole week that feels more like forever, I finally managed to finish A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer yesterday, and much to my dismay, it had been quite a... disappointment. It was perhaps not wise to set my expectation a little too high based on my experience during A Curse So Dark and Lonely alone, though I swear I didn't do it on purpose.

Contrary to what you might think, I honestly didn't hate the story nor did I think that the premise wasn't interesting enough to keep me going onwards. The fact that I still managed to enjoy it surprised me that I ended up giving it a 2.9 stars rating instead of a plain old 2. I had thought highly of this duology because of the fact that ACSDAL did the three main characters greatthat alone was my sole reason to instantly pick up the second book. With that being said, not in a million years would I have thought that it would be my biggest mistake.

Disclaimer: My review below will contain spoilers for the first book. Please stop scrolling if you haven't read A Curse So Dark and Lonely yet, or if you're interested, read my review first here.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken explores the story of Commander Grey who turns out to be the legitimate heir of Emberfall. Not wanting the crown for himself, Grey flees and goes by the name Hawk, leaving Rhen with no clue about his supposed-to-be brother except for the fact that he is half a magesmith. One day, Grey is accidentally discovered by one of Rhen's armies and is forced to return to the castle. But instead of telling Rhen the truth, Grey takes his chance and flees to Syhl Shallow with Karis Luran's oldest daughter, Lia Mara, who tries to convince him to stand against Rhen for the good of Emberfall.

I would say I enjoyed A Heart So Fierce and Broken even more than I already did IF I saw it as a standalone and not in any way related to A Curse So Dark and Lonely. The list below will explain my distaste but please note that my points will be full of spoilers:

1. I’m not saying that I agreed with what Rhen did nor that I blamed Grey for doing what he thought was right, but the Rhen and Grey I knew in ACSDAL wouldn’t have done what they did here. We will examine his reasoning more in the second point but for now please note that Rhen had his own motives to do things he did while Grey, on the other hand, progressed drastically downwards in terms of personality and objectivity. I, OF COURSE, didn’t want Grey to suffer, but how was I supposed to be more sympathetic if I didn't find the change in Grey’s personality make sense? A part of me still believed that Grey would do anything for Emberfall (and Rhen) even if his life was at stake while at the same time I was also relieved that he chose to do what he considered best.

2. Knowing Rhen's history, we understood how bad Rhen had suffered just as we knew how hard the curse had been on him throughout book one. That being said, seeing him being painted as the bad guy in the first half of this book didn’t seem right even if it was done unintentionally. After everything he had been forced to go through, I couldn't help but compare him to Tamlin from ACOTAR (I always think that his character was done dirty in a way and it really bummed me out to see the same happened to Rhen whom I liked so much).

3. Despite being kind, I loathed Lia Mara on sight for being manipulative. I know I'm being very subjective right now, but reading this book as a sequel was extremely hard for me. If A Heart So Fierce and Broken were a standalone, I would probably like it a thousand times better as it would be easy for me to hate Rhen and root for Lia Mara instead, knowing nothing about his past. But what happened was it was not. It's important to remember that I didn't agree with what Rhen did in this book, but I understandably couldn't hate him either. The same applied to Lia Mara, but in her case, it was forcing myself to like her that I couldn’t seem to do no matter how hard I tried to. Her romance with Grey also helped nothing at all.

4. In the end, I hated Grey so much. The remainder of the commander I used to very much adore in ACSDAL was completely gone. I didn't see him as a villain, but I so didn't consider him a hero. So when Jake said something similar to "You didn't trust Rhen enough" right to his face, I just couldn't agree more. Grey didn't trust Rhen enough to tell him the truth and instead, he blamed Rhen for being paranoid, left him, AND challenge him when he knew he would have won either way. I mean, RHEN WAS CURSED BY A MAGESMITH FOR HUNDRED YEARS, KILLED HIS FAMILY WHEN HE TURNED INTO A BEAST UNWILLINGLY, AND YOU WERE THERE, GREY. Was it so hard for you to understand that instead of being cruel, Rhen was still a human who was just simply afraid? (I couldn't helpsorry for the rant).

On a calmer tone, let's pretend that we're now in a parallel universe and this book was a standalone. If that were the case, I would say that even if slow-paced A Heart So Fierce and Broken was still enjoyable. The fact that Syhl Shallow seemed to have a very different culture compared to Emberfall quite impressed me. I also liked the fact that Jake and Noah played a bigger part here though I was honestly hoping for more Harper.

Charade aside, it was hard to decide what to think about this book. A Heart So Fierce and Broken had a very interesting premise in spite of the disappointing character development. Even if I'm not sure whether I'll be picking up the third book, let's still hope that it would be more likable and possibly Lia Mara-free.

Actual rating: 2.2★