A Curse So Dark and Lonely
By Brigid Kemmerer
Published January 29, 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that does some interesting things with the story, veering just enough from the original to keep things interesting.
Harper’s life is rough. Her father ran off, leaving them in terrible debt, her mother is dying, and her brother has been forced into criminal behavior by the people his father owes money to. She’s constantly underestimated by her family because she has cerebral palsy. One night, she intervenes when she sees a woman being grabbed on the street, and she’s transported to a magical kingdom.
Prince Rhen is the heir of a dying kingdom named Emberfall. Thanks to a vengeful sorceress, both he and his country are cursed. Each season, he a chance to save himself and the kingdom by finding a young woman to fall in love with him. If he fails, he turns into a wild beast that slaughters his people indiscriminately. The only remaining royal guard, Grey, goes into Harper’s world to find women for the prince.
I love fairytale retellings, but they have to bring something new to the tale to really impress me. A Curse So Dark and Lonely is an inventive version of the story. I liked the combination of a modern heroine who comes from our world being sucked into a high fantasy world. It’s a clever way to modernize the tale while keeping the fairytale elements.
Harper is a tough version of Beauty. She’s had a a less than ideal life, and she doesn’t want to be defined by her disability. At first, she reacts angrily to her captivity and tried to escape, but as she sees Emberfall and the devastation that’s been wrought in the kingdom, she begins to make an uneasy alliance with the prince.
Rhen at first seems less scary than the traditional beast because he’s not in beast form (he’s a handsome prince, of course). But he lives with the guilt of all the people he’s killed, and he barely has the strength left to face another season of trying to save Emberfall. The arrival of Harper spurs him into action.
I loved the connection that develops between Harper and Rhen, and also the connection she develops with Grey. Harper really grows as a character, and she has a chance to shine as she works with Rhen to fight the curse and save the kingdom.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a lovely retelling, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys retellings or YA fantasy.
I received an ARC from Amazon Vine.