This was never a curse to be broken. This was a death sentence. The true curse has been the thought that we might find escape.”
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication date: January 29, 2019
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
I found the plot to be fast paced and gripping, but without feeling too rushed. I’ve read a lot of fairy tale retellings, and this one was different enough to be entertaining yet it still kept many of the familiar concepts I associate with Beauty and the Beast. It included the beast (of course), a girl taken against her will, and an enchanted castle. I also thought the romance aspect of the story was very realistic, especially the fact that at a young age it’s hard to identify what love feels like.
The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”
Harper is the only character I have come across in the YA/Fantasy genre who suffers from cerebral palsy. She was strong and ferocious and did not let her disability hinder her in any way. She was also loyal, and so brave, albeit sometimes bordering on reckless.
Rhen, was a bit self-centered, but Harper helped him come out of his bubble of misery and made him understand that he was not the only one suffering. His people were suffering too, and he had the means to help them. I felt like Rhen’s character wasn’t as fully developed as Harper’s, and we were missing a lot of his background. I understand it was painful for him to talk about his past, but we needed a bit more to make him real.
Lastly, I want to talk about the villains. The enchantress, Lilith was scary, but not as scary as that queen from the other neighboring kingdom Karis Luran. I thought the fact that she was totally fine with burning innocent women and children alive was a lot more terrifying than the torture Lilith was willing to impart on our characters.
I’m always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”
The World building:
The world is called Emberfall, but apart from the castle, an Inn, and the surrounding woods we don’t get to see a whole lot of it. The castle is where the characters spend most of the their time and the author does a great job describing it in great detail. I just wish it had a giant Library ??
We also get a nice rendering of the bad neighbohood in Washington D.C where Harper is from, and her dingy apartment.
This is a story about loyalty, bravery, and what it means to truly love someone. It was beautiful and enchanting. I would recommend it to all Fantasy readers and fairy tale lovers. I read it in two sittings because I could not put it down. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series “A Heart so Fierce and Broken” which will be out January 7, 2020.
Have you guys read this one? What did you think?