I love retellings. Classic retellings, fairytale retellings, mythology retellings, I love them all (related: recs anyone??). Except for Beauty and the Beast retellings. I have yet to find one that dazzled me. After seeing fantastic reviews for A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I thought this would finally be the Beauty and the Beast that broke the curse (see what I did there??) Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
When I was reading I couldn’t stop thinking how this book is basically Groundhog Day meets Beauty and the Beast.
Book: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Published January 29th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
TW: violence, death, murder, sexual assault, physical assault, nightmares, death of a family member, ableism, suicide, blood, gore, torture
Fall in love, break the curse.
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.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. (from Goodreads)
Harper is loyal, always wants to help people, and extremely impulsive. Half of the time that impulsiveness saved her, the other half of the time it almost got her killed.
One of the big things about Harper is her need to return back home. Her mom and her brother are all she has, and see needs to help them in every way possible. I wish Harper’s relationship with her brother could have been developed more. Or maybe if she had a friend from home? It would have upped the stakes a bit more.
I admired how courageous Harper was throughout the book, however it annoyed me that she always assumed the worst of every situation. It is totally creepy when some rando snatches you off the street and brings you to an enchanted castle. Harper’s reaction to that totally makes sense. If it were me, I’d run the guy over with a horse too. What doesn’t make sense is the part after she decides to trust those magical randos. She claims she trusts them and yet always finds the worst in their actions.
Rhen is a prince that once upon a time was stupid and got himself cursed. And then continues to wallow in self pity by being overly aggressive to everyone and everything in his general vicinity.
I think underneath all of his pain, Rhen wants to be a good person. However I think that A Curse So Dark Lonely was so busy trying to create an enemies-to-lovers situation that his better traits got buried. Even when he became “nicer” it just felt forced to me.
Rhen would have been a lot likeable if he wasn’t so beastly in both forms. I would have been fine if the beast was only the giant fish/lizard/bird hybrid thing. Having his human form act like the beast in the beginning was unnecessary. Towards the middle(ish) we saw some softer moments, but I would have liked even more of them.
The parts when Rhen opens up and talks about how miserable he is broke my heart. The curse took such a toll on everyone involved and watching the characters fall apart hit me where it hurt.
Freya is the most likable character in this book. No, I will not be taking arguments at this time.
The romance in this book fell flat. The trust between Rhen and Harper felt shaky at best. I don’t know how a relationship is ever going to work between them if they don’t earn each other’s trust. Also, I don’t see the chemistry. And the small inkling of a love triangle at the end needs to go away. Don’t even start that storyline.
I found the parts where the kingdom is being rebuilt to be far more interesting than the drama between the main characters. It seems like reconstruction will take the forefront in the next book, so I look forward to seeing where it goes.
I don’t think Beauty and the Beast retellings are for me. The whole kidnapping thing doesn’t start off strong. Add in characters that I was not a fan of, and this book and I didn’t jive. I’ll still probably read the next book. You never know, it might surprise me.
Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely? What did you think? Do you like Beauty and the Beast retellings? What is your favorite one??