Book Review, Books

A Curse So Dark and Lonely Review

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A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

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 Lacy. 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.

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Retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Sign me up (actually, not always, but it does get me interested). Then it is by Brigid, who I find to be a great author and she’s one of the few contemporary ones I actually really really enjoy (I am not the biggest on contemporary).

It’s taken me a while to write this review because I wasn’t sure how to write it. I loved the entire new twist to the Beauty and the Beast story. It is fresh but it is also, at the core, still the same story. However, the characters are in their own way so much better.

The addition of Lilith, that was a part I enjoyed dearly, (not that I like Lilith) because it involves more the curse maker, and why the curse was made. Instead of being vague about why Rhen was cursed, well, you get to find out why, and that she is there being a little “playful” with the world and breaching her own boundaries is very intriguing too.

Harper, is an amazing “Belle”. I loved the strength she has and how cerebral palsy defines her yet it doesn’t. It was also very interesting to see how she somehow breaks her boundaries and barriers because she is in a world that doesn’t know what cerebral palsy is and has no preconceptions about it (except that she is either wounded or lame, but that’s about it).

Rhen is interesting and also, you get to see a little better why he is the way he is. It isn’t exactly an excuse but more of a “what else would you really expect given the circumstances?”. And his character growth is probably the biggest through the whole story.

And then there’s Grey, who at first I wasn’t sure what to think of him. Mostly because he isn’t a usual part fo the Beauty and the Beast story, so he was definitely new to this. And all I can say without gushing like a raving lunatic, or spoiling this book, is that I like it.

Brigid has shown that not only is she a master at contemporary stories, with grief and personal relationships at the center of it, but also very good with fantasy and refreshing a retelling in a new way. Doesn’t stop surprising me, and I genuinely can’t wait for “Call it what you want” coming out also this year! (So spoiled by this! Such a good thing).

I just wish she’d be one fo the YALC authors this year. One can dream, right?

PS. I messaged Brigid on instagram to ask for a bookplate since I couldn’t be on the booktour (an ocean literally is in my way), and she was so generous that she ended up offering bookplates to everyone who emailed her. How cool is that? I asked for two because of new book in summer, so I don’t have to bother her twice.

 

Book Review

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Review

This was one of the books that came in a FairyLoot box a while ago, and I had also had an ARC copy of it.

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

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This is a difficult rating and review decision, mostly because I loved the writing, world building and ambience of the book. However, I did not actually love the story. And I just couldn’t get to feel for Xifeng. So to be clear, the “low rating” in this case is more of a “this kind of story/MC doesn’t agree with me, rather than a “this is bad writing” because seriously, that is the furthest away from the truth it could get.

Julie does a masterful work at setting the story in East Asia, and I was hooked with the world, however, the shift of Xifeng never really clicked. She felt a bit like she was being mostly manipulated and never actually made choices, her choices were basically motivated by a “prophecy” of “destiny” and when it shows that she can’t have her cake and eat it, she goes completely against herself because of the Serpent God. That I just couldn’t understand, and Wei perfectly describes her in their last meeting.

All in all, I was fond of Shiro, Wei and the ladies in general, and it was really interesting to read it. Sadly, I knew where the story was going and that it would not be a happy story/ending. I am curious to see the next book and see what goes on with Jade, but then, I think I will prefer Jade as MC than Xifeng, we shall see.

Moon recommends

I am not an antihero reader in general. It’s not that I dislike good villains, but rather than I like villains that either have a good motive or antiheroes that just are in their way of being. The only books that come to mind is And I Darken and the Reckoners series by Brandon Sanderson. And of course, this one 🙂