By Brigid Kemmerer
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
I’m not going to make you wait until the end of this review to find out whether or not I recommend this book. I will, without hesitation, recommend “A Curse so Dark and Lonely” as one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings I’ve read to date, although it is very loosely based upon the classic fairy tale. As a matter of fact, I will recommend ACsDaL as one the best retellings I’ve read, ever. Brigid Kemmerer has masterfully created a whole new plot with multiple settings, but still sprinkles pieces of the classic throughout. This book is sure to keep every single reader sitting upright, with their fingers on the edge of the next page, ready to flip.
Harper, our heroine of the story is wild but clever. Defiant but loyal. Young but fearless. She doesn’t let her Cerebral Palsy slow her down at any point in this story, which is inspiring on so many levels. I feel that Kemmerer keeps her character true and credible from the beginning to the end. I never felt like she acted younger or older than her age. She would make wrong decisions, like a normal teen would, but wasn’t melodramatic over anything. Contrary to the classic tale where Beauty is prisoner and falls in love with her captor, ACsDaL holds its own creative twist. This young maiden or DC native, rather, doesn’t take anything lying down, and that makes this prince react differently from every other prince you’ve ever known.
Our beloved Prince Rhen wants his curse to be broken a million times over. With the help of his loyal (and dashingly swoon-worthy) Guardsman, Grey, they’ve tried the same tactic of finding a girl to break the curse with no success. With Harper, things are made different because she makes them so, from the first moment she places her feet on Emberfall’s soil, and this ultimately gives us a very changed prince. Kemmerer did a marvelous job of weaving past events and flashbacks with present day problems as they arose, giving Rhen and Grey strong characters with even stronger voices.
Grey was such an added bonus to this story and I couldn’t help but feel a strong connection to him. A loyal guard as well as a true ally and friend to both Rhen and Harper, Grey really helped to tie this fantasy together in a whole new fashion. Grey never waivers with dignity or honor but adds humor and flare with his quick wit and unending devotion for his prince. His swordsmanship and agility are impressive and I can see why he had to be a main character. I dare say Grey was as much of a newly added book boyfriend as was Rhen.
While the noble characters of this revamped fairy tale grabbed hold of my heart and warmed it so, the malevolent Lilith dominated her own scenes throughout the story, crushing my heart to near its breaking point. I think I specifically remember one scene where I was actually holding my breath as I read. Though she was not the only villain of the story, when she appeared, Lilith was vile and unsympathetic to say the least and definitely earns the reputation she was given. I once read that every story should have a major conflict that the story is rising to, there should also be smaller conflicts that your characters need to overcome to keep the story engaging and suspenseful. Kemmerer does this with perfection.
As the story unfolds and secrets are spilled left and right, the reader is thrust into more fierce and engaging subplots than from any other retelling I’ve read before. With all of that said, the ending will surprise the reader the most. I hope you enjoyed my review of “A Curse so Dark and Lonely” by Brigid Kemmerer. I also hope you come out alive in the end. I admit that the book hangover is real with this one!