A Curse So Dark & Lonely – 4.5 Star Review

photo credit: colbywilkens on Instagram

“Words spoken in the dark in the middle of the night always feel so much heavier than they would at any other time.”

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

After devouring A Court of Thorns and Roses, I am incredibly slow to pick up Beauty and the Beast Retellings because, I mean, who can top that? Honestly, ACoTar still holds 1st place, but A Curse So Dark & Lonely is a close 2nd & that says a lot I think! It is definitely more appropriately labeled YA than ACoTar and a closer rendition to the original fairy tale we all are familiar with while still containing originality. The writing style of Brigid Kemmerer was engrossing and smooth, enabling me to finish this book in record time. 

The action picks up right from the beginning and our female MC, Harper, is almost instantly introduced to our cursed prince, Rhen. I appreciated how things got straight to the point, in a way that didn’t feel rushed (if that makes any sense at all, ha!). The first part of the story took place somewhere other than within the enchanted/cursed castle. The original stories hyper focus on the castle, so this change of scenery felt fresh for the story and kept my interest piqued. Another aspect I respected in this retelling was that Rhen was forthcoming about his curse and what was needed to break it. Whereas in other versions of this tale it is often a secret to be discovered. What little deception the prince DID partake in, was original to this retelling & I was okay with it. 

The King’s Ransom card game was another unique feature in this book that I loved. Not only did this inventive game provide a clever way for plot advancement and organic character dialog and connection, but it also left the reader wanting to play the game. The descriptions of the hand painted cards had me literally itching to find a pair for myself… I’m sure there’s got to be some on Etsy, right?! This game added to the culture of this alternate world and I’m so pleased the author included it the way she did.

Harper was our feisty female lead, and why she did fall into some of the YA pitfalls of female heroines (hence my docked .5 star), she did have some unique characteristics that I absolutely loved. The first being, she had a prominent limp related to her cerebral palsy. The presence of this disorder within a YA fantasy novel, and being the MC, was wholly unique and brilliantly done in my opinion. Harper’s disorder wasn’t just a token for diversity. It was critical to her character development, relevant to the plot, and simply felt real to who she was. It provided her with a vulnerability, explained her inner strength and personality, and kept her relatable. Her character arc fell a little for me in the middle, but overall, I was beyond pleased with what the author accomplished with this new angle. 

Grey was hands down my favorite character! The commander and best friend to our crown prince, Rhen. Grey is trapped into the curse with the prince and forced to repeat the same season indefinitely. He is also the one in charge of finding a girl each season for the prince to woo. Not going to lie, I was really (really) hoping for a love triangle and I would’ve been TeamGrey all the way! I didn’t dislike Rhen per say, but he just wasn’t a focus for me. As obvious in this review because I don’t really have a lot to compliment or comment on regarding his role in the story. Pertinent sure, just not a personal highlight.  

Lastly, I also truly appreciated how each new character we met along the way slowly snowballed into larger roles within the story. I liked seeing how the relationships developed and the cast of secondary characters transform. I’m absolutely reading the next book in this series and I am beyond pumped to learn about the new POVs we will get in that follow up! The sequel will most likely be the YA Book Club pick for February on my Instagram, so if you haven’t read A Curse So Dark and Lonely you should do that now  & then we can read A Heart So Fierce and Broken together next month! 

Reviewed by CoCo

Thank you to colbywilkens on instagram for the photo! You can visit her IG account by clicking here

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