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

Goodreads: A Curse So Dark And Lonely
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling
Rating: ★★★★☆

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.

First of all, if I had realized this was the first book in a series and we wouldn’t be getting the second book until 2020, I would not have jumped into it as quickly as I did. But once I started, I honestly could not stop. Despite being scared half-to-death of the Beast and his roar when I watched this movie as a kid, Beauty and the Beast quickly became one of my all time favorite fairy tales. That library scene was one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen and seriously, goals much? I don’t know how I even thought this would be a standalone because as much as I wish that we had the full story now, I also think that I want this series to last. Forever.

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.” 

This was a dark and magical retelling. I was hooked from the first few pages and I couldn’t wait to get back to it when I was basically forced to put it down so I could fulfill my social obligations. I’ve never read anything by Brigid Kemmerer before so I don’t know if all her books are like this, but I thought the writing flowed nicely and successfully gave the story an eerie fairytale feel. I thought the world building was done well. There was a thick eerie-ness to the setting. This was especially for the castle scenes where everything regenerates day after day. It was hauntingly creepy but beautiful and so easy to picture!

I loved all the characters, and thought they had intriguing backstories that gave them more depth. Harper was fantastic; she’s independent, sassy/sarcastic, fierce, and doesn’t let the fact that she has Cerebral Palsy stop her from fighting for herself and the kingdom. She isn’t defined by her limitations, rather she’s empowered because of them. When we’re first introduced to her she’s described as ‘scrappy and walking with a limp’, far from the beautiful, shy Belle that we know, but I think that’s what made it more refreshing. Basically, Harper is relatable and I really liked that! I liked Rhen and Grey as well, but I didn’t find their arcs especially interesting or special. Rhen’s storyline was fairly typical of a remorseful prince and Grey was the stoic and handsome guardsman with a heart of gold. Honestly though, I was more taken with Grey’s character, and even though we learn a bit about him, I kept wanting more of his backstory. When it came to the romance, I wasn’t very convinced with the chemistry between Harper and Rhen, and I know I’m in the minority with that opinion. They had a connection but I thought it was lacking and felt a little forced. I thought Harper was developing a stronger and more genuine bond with Grey, and if there were teams, I’d definitely be Team Grey (don’t hate).


I’m feeling an impending love triangle and if there’s one trope I really dislike, it’s the love triangle. Like, why? I mean, I get that there was some kind of “love triangle” thing going on in the original Beauty & the Beast, but let’s be real, none of us thought Gaston really had any shot with Belle. I know I’m just assuming there’ll be one in the next book, I could be very wrong and I kinda hope I am.


At the end, I still have a lot of questions that went unanswered though, mostly relating to the curse. Lillith was an intriguing villain, and I wish we got more of her backstory and learned more about her motives because it was still a little vague to me. Was it truly just an act of a spurned lover? We learn about the long history of magic in the kingdom, how Rhen was an awfully cruel and entitled prince, and we get glimpses into how the curse affected him and the kingdom, but I couldn’t help feeling that there was more to it than what we were shown, especially with how the book ended.

Speaking of the ending… I was gutted by it! THAT TWIST is everything that we love and hate in a book, especially when we have to live a year with this cliffhanger! So cruel. I’m dying to know what happens next–I think there’s going to be more political intrigue, deceptions, romance and action in general–and I hope that we get some answers to the questions that were raised in this book.

Have you read A Curse So Dark And Lonely? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below and let’s talk books!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

  1. I think the author said there won’t be a love triangle, if I’m remembering correctly. I also actually think the set-up is that the characters aren’t really going to encounter each other in that way in the next book, but obviously I’m guessing. I also like to think that Grey was serious about not trying to cut in on another guy’s romance. :p

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yay! I’m so glad there won’t be a love triangle, but also a little sad that they won’t interact in the next book (if it ends up that way, of course)! Do you remember where she said that? Haha I defo don’t think Grey would do that to Rhys but… I’m still totally Team Grey (oh impossible dreams) 😂


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