Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
I have received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely is one of the most hyped books of this year in the YA fantasy community. When I started reading it, I was expecting the usual Beauty and Beast retelling, the girl falling in love in the end and then all problems are solved… but this was so much more than that.
This is the story of Harper, a girl from DC who’s constantly underestimated because of her cerebral palsy and has been dealing with a lot since her father left, leaving a lot of debt behind, and her mother got cancer. When she is kidnapped to the fantasy realm of Emberfall, she is sucked into the curse that has befallen the castle and its prince, Rhen. Every end of season, Rhen turns into a monster and goes on a killing spree. His family is dead and the castle has been empty except for him and his commander of guard for hundreds of seasons – and Harper is his last chance to break the curse. But that might not be enough…
Harper is a no-nonsense character. I absolutely loved that about her. She’s tough, kind-hearted, brave and she is a great rep for cerebral palsy, in my opinion. I don’t have cerebral palsy, so I cannot speak from experience, but I never thought she was badass despite that, but rather it was just something else about her, like being short. Rhen is complicated, difficult to love and always scheming. The character development in this book is amazing. I spent a lot of time wondering if I wanted them to fall in love or not, worried about the kingdom, swooning a bit over Grey, and generally being tense waiting for terrible things to happen any time. Which, you know, they do.
This book is so dark and gritty and takes an emotional toll on the reader. I wanted things to be alright but had no idea how they ever would. The storytelling is wonderfully seductive, and the twists and difficult decisions and sacrifices that were made all the time broke my heart. There is so much at stake, and it gets more and more complex as the story goes. I am almost scared to read the next book. I could barely sleep the night I finished this, going through the details and the twists in my head and possible outcomes.
As dark fantasies go, this is one of the best I’ve read so far!