You’ve probably noticed it’s been a while since I posted a book review. My life has been so busy with moving back to America from England, that I decided to wait until I finished the Cursebreakers trilogy to write a review on the whole series. And I was able to finish it last night!
The author of this series, Brigid Kemmerer, is a New York times bestselling author. She lives in Baltimore with her family. She’s written numerous books including Thicker than Water and Letters to the Lost. Her latest release is Defy the Night. But, today I’m talking about the Cursebreakers series, starting with A Curse So Dark and Lonely.
This is the first book in the Cursebreakers series, and is essentially a Beauty and the Beast retelling. In the fantasy world of Emberfall, Prince Rhen was cursed by an enchantress. Autumn would always repeat at his castle, and he will turn into a monster at the end of the season, until he can find a girl who loves him. His loyal guard, Grey, is able to travel to Washington D.C. at the beginning of each season, to find a girl. To perhaps everyone’s surprise, Harper becomes one of the girls that ends up in Emberfall, kidnapped against her will and no way to get back.
What I loved about this first book was the disability representation. Harper has cerebral palsy which affects her leg and she walks with a permanent limp, but she tries not to let it get in the way or to let it define her. She is a fierce protagonist, always fighting for what she thinks is best. I also love the character of Grey; he’s fierce in his own right but also funny in a deadpan manner.
However, I had to give the book three stars because it doesn’t seem to add much to the beauty and the beast narrative. It’s a tale that’s been told a hundred times, and I know it by heart. While it’s a good story, I want something new.
This is the second book in the Cursebreakers trilogy. As you can see, I liked this book a lot more than the first one. My favorite character, Grey, becomes a main character in this one. Plus, we are introduced to another badass character called Lia Mara. I like Lia Mara even more than I like Harper–Lia Mara is kind and bookish and even a bigger girl, but that doesn’t stop her from anything. Lia Mara is the daughter of the queen from an enemy kingdom known as Syhl Shallow and seeing her dynamic with her mother and sister is very interesting. I can’t speak much on the plot of this book without spoiling the first book, but this plot is newer and interesting and adds a lot more. That being said, there were definitely parts, especially in the beginning, that were slow and dragged.
The finale to the Cursebreakers trilogy was probably the best book in the series. Two countries are preparing for war, but what are they really fighting for? This novel explores the perspectives of all four protagonists: Rhen, Harper, Grey, and Lia Mara.
What I like here is there is a theme of fear and how fear controls the actions of people. Some people in the book fear magic and what it can do. Some fear being betrayed. Some fear being attacked. There is even the fear of making the wrong decision. The book explores how fear can ruin us and how we can conquer fear. As well as how we can forgive those who have acted in fear.
I also love throughout the series the romance plots that were not only super cute but more realistic. Because instead of an insta-love plot, the characters will say “I think I could love you in time” which I think is an amazing way to go about it.
However, I have to knock a star off because of one specific thing. SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH SKIP AHEAD. Brigid Kemmerer included my least favorite trope, the trope that most people hate. She had to make one of the characters pregnant. And that’s one way to ruin a book. I hate the pregnancy trope, even if it’s a happy one. Ugh.
Overall, I’m glad I read this series. I would give the whole series four stars overall! I’d definitely recommend this YA Fantasy series to any fantasy reader, especially those that like retellings.
Brigid Kemmerer’s Instagram here.
Brigid Kemmerer’s Twitter here.
Book trailer here.