A Curse So Dark and Lonely // Review

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

Format: Ebook

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??


34 thoughts on “A Curse So Dark and Lonely // Review

  1. I agree that there were definitely some things that weren’t great in this book. I, personally, really liked Harper because she was a really strong female character and really loyal to her family as well. Rhen was eh in this book but I’m very sorry to tell you that in book two he becomes downright awful.
    I think for me, the reason this book wasn’t a giant hit was that I don’t like portal fantasy. For some reason I really don’t like when a character starts in the real world and gets pulled into the fantasy world. I especially didn’t like the part in this book where Harper just went back to DC. And I agree that the romance was a little weird…honestly, Harper and Rhen might have been better off as just friends.
    Embarrassingly enough, I shipped Grey and Rhen for most of the book….to be fair that would have been a great plot twist but then the end….aaaaaah

    Liked by 2 people

    1. oh well looking forward to disliking rhen even more than i already do ugh…
      for me it was less of the portal magic and more the kidnapping. to be fair i haven’t read much magic recently so i don’t have a preference either way but it does not seem like a healthy way to start a relationship.
      weirdly enough, i thought the same thing. honestly would have been a killer plot twist

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha ha I didn’t even dislike him much in book one but BOOK TWO ARGH.
        Hmm, I see. Yeah, I didn’t like that Grey had to kidnap Harper but like she wasn’t going to go with him willingly? I don’t know…lol it really does NOT sound like a healthy way to start a relationship.
        IT REALLY WOULD HAVE. Honestly I may have to write a book like that XD. Well I’m glad I’m not the only one…I’m weirdly good at shipping people who turn out to be related in some way? It’s very odd.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. i finished book two and you are completely right. i do hate rhen even more ugh
          yea. honestly the whole kidnapping thing isn’t even just part of this book. most beauty and the beast retellings include it and it always seems like a shady way to start a relationship. that’s probably why i don’t often jive with beauty and the beast retellings in general.
          I would read the heck out of that book lol
          Ohhh i totally forgot that they were related for a hot second. yea that would not have worked. that’s a very strange talent you have there (the shipping related characters, that is)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yeah, just…no. I wouldn’t really even care if he died in the next book. Harper is better off without him. I like Harper.
            Ooh that’s actually a good point, that makes sense. Yeah I wouldn’t want to fall in love with someone who kidnapped me (though obviously I feel like a lot of time people don’t really have a choice with who they fall in love with?)
            I know, it’s sort of like the fact that they’re related is just barely thrown in there, like it’s mentioned about once at the very end and that’s it? I feel like maybe they could have made it more clear there.
            Yes, yes it is. It’s only happened three times but with a talent like this I feel like three is kinda a lot.


            1. Harper is better off without him. she can go off and be a determined warrior princess without him haha.
              yes! like he is the lost heir or whatever but then there is that one line where it’s like yea they are related. like hold the phone, can we take a moment to expand on that.
              3 times definitely qualifies as a talent lol. (related: which three were they??)

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes exactly.
                Yeah, it’s just very barely mentioned ha.
                Well…I mean it was this book, then in the book the Merciful Crow I shipped what’s his face umm Jasimir or something and what’s his face Tav or whatever (I know I’m great at remembering peoples names). They also turned out to be half brothers. Actually it was sorta the exact same scenario; illigitimate son is guarding a prince who turns out to be his half brother. The last one was very random, it was from the mg graphic novel Cleopatra in Space, I sorta thought it would be a good ending for Cleo to end up with Pharaoh Yoshira but they were like really really really really distantly related.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh so sorry this one didn’t live up to your expectations!! I personally love this series, but I can definitely see where you’re coming from here. Harper is an amazing heroine… but Rhen’s character never really caught my attention like Harper did. That probably ties into what you said about him being unlikeable most of the them. And let me promise you that the implications of a love triangle are a red herring — dear Grey gets his own love interest in Book 2 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was really torn when reviewing because on one hand my heart strings were being toyed with the ENTIRE time and I felt for the characters. On the other hand some parts just felt weird.
      i’m starting the second one tonight and i’m intrigued to see what direction it goes eee!
      OH THANK GOODNESS I could not handle a love triangle. I’ve heard that Grey is the focus in book 3… He was my favorite out of the trio, so I’m excited to see where it goes!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. some people really loved it, but it wasn’t my fave. i’m definitely looking out for the rest of the series though because i will drive myself absolutely insane wondering what happened lol. it was a bit darker than i expected, but i still liked it well enough. i hope you’ll enjoy! happy reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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