Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I give her a nod and turn for the door. 
“Rhen,” she calls after me. 
I pause in the doorway and face her. 
“I’m not going to fall in love with you,” she says. Her words are not a surprise. 
I sigh. “You won’t be the first.”

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Publication Date: 29 Jan 2019

Genre: YA

Pages: 489

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA


Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was 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 barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But 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.

My Thoughts:

In all honesty, I am a cynic when it comes to retellings of the Beauty and the Beast because it is my all-time favorite fairytale. I was excited when I first heard about this book (because who doesn’t love the opportunity to relive the magic and beauty of that tale), but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was also massively apprehensive. This book soared passed my outrageously high expectations because it was such a breathtakingly original work of literary magic that I daresay should not even be considered a retelling.

The opening chapters describe a scene where Harper witnesses a man (Grey) attempt to kidnap a girl in broad daylight in bustling Washington D.C. Even though Harper has cerebral palsy, which gives her a physical disadvantage, she still holds her own with a tire iron. While the girl is able to escape Grey’s attempted kidnapping, Harper is the next victim to be sent to Emberfall.

After reading those opening chapters, I instantly fell in love with Harper. First off, bravo for the inclusivity of characters with disabilities. Also, thank you for not making her disability a crutch or a source of pity. Harper is fiercely independent and will not allow anything, disability or not, to stand in her way of returning home to her dying mother and brother who must hustle to pay off their father’s gambling debts.

As the story continues, we are introduced to Grey, the Commander of the Royal Guard or at least he was before the creature killed everyone, and Rhen, the Crowned Prince of Emberfall who is cursed by the enchantress Lady Lillith to become a creature that preys on the kingdom once a season. Prince Rhen is convinced that the only way to break the curse is to fall in love.

Cue Harper. Harper does not buy the whole falling in love to break the curse spiel. She’s been kidnapped for god’s sake, so why on Earth would she fall in love with her kidnapper?! Instead, after she learns the state of destitute at which the citizens of Emberfall have fallen on, Harper takes it upon herself to help the people of Emberfall irrespective of their impending doom. She may not be able to help them all, but she will die trying!

As the story continues, the layers from the previous seasons of despair and defeat gradually peel away from both Prince Rhen and Grey. They accept that this is the final season of Lillith’s torment and regardless if the curse is broken or not, they will assist Harper in ensuring that their people are not forsaken.

Contrary to what I originally believed, this picturesque Beauty and the Beast adaptation was what I needed. The splendor of this story is that there is no love at first sight. Trust has already been completely shattered. Yet, you fall in love with the real moments that these characters have with one another. There’s something magical and enriching about stories that have relatable characters.  I cannot recommend this story enough. It will definitely be one that people will seamlessly integrate into their memories of the Beauty and the Beast.

Rating: 5 stars

Have you read A Curse So Dark and Lonely? Do you like fairytale retellings? Let’s discuss!


  1. The short excerpt broke my heart! I’ve been hearing a lot of good things so far! Now, I know I have to secure a copy for myself! Beauty and the Beast was also my fave fairytale. And I love retellings so I’m really excited for this one! Awesome review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – 5 stars. I have my reservations about Beauty and the Beast retellings because it’s my favorite fairytale, so I have some pretty unrealistic expectations. That being said, this was everything I needed and more. This adaptation gave the fairytale a modern day glow up, and I need more of Harper’s sass in my life! Here’s my review. […]


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