Rummanah Aasi
 Description: 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. 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.

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a refreshing retelling of Beauty and the Beast. In my opinion a successful retelling uses the main plot points of the classic fairy tale or novel while also constructing a new story to stand on its own. Kemmerer's latest succeeds.
  Prince Rhen, the sole heir to Emberfall, is cursed to repeat the autumn of his 18th birthday until he can find a woman to fall in love with him despite his seasonal transformation to a monstrous beast. The season resets after every failure-all 327 of them. When Harper intervenes in what looks like an abduction on the streets of Washington, DC, she is transported into Emberfall. She is desperately looking for a way back to D.C. so she can tend to her dying mom and help be the lookout for her brother as he tries to pay off their absent father's debts to a loan shark. The last thing Harper needed is to be at the center of the curse. Harper is shocked to learn that she is Rhen's last chance to break the curse, but Harper isn't sure if she can fall in love with Rhen.
   The story is told from dual points of view. Harper is written in modern voice and is absolutely the true hero of our story. She has cerebral palsy, but does not let her disability define her. Kemmerer does a fabulous job in dodging the disability inspiration tropes we often see in fiction stories where characters have a disability. Harper is also fallible. She is impulsive to the point of recklessness, but also incredibly generous, strong, and persistent. She stands toe to toe with Prince Rhen and challenges him to think of helping his kingdom who has suffered greatly while he has been sequestered and aloof.
  Rhen's chapters are written with a historical, refined voice. He is also a complex character. Interestingly, Kemmerer does not make him a full time Beast. The threat of monstrosity is always in the back of Rhen's mind. He bears the burden of the fate of his family as well as the dire circumstances of his kingdom. His interactions with Harper has given him inspiration to fight for something even if his curse can not be broken. I would have loved to get a clearer understanding of the curse and why it happened. We do get some backstory, but I wished it was fleshed out a bit. 
  The romance between Harper and Rhen is delightfully of the slow burn kind. Harper demands trust and friendship first from Rhen, before romance is suggested. Even though the story is problematic when it comes to consent given Harper's abduction which is talked about, consent is taken seriously. Rhen and Harper do not touch unless Harper gives her explicit consent. 
   There are other secondary characters that are equally captivating as our main characters. I loved Grey and want to know more of his story. His interactions and friendship with Rhen is compelling. Freya and Zo are both examples of strong female friendships that Harper has in the story. Though we find out what happens to Rhen, there is a still a lot unknown as we discover more secrets in Grey's past. I'm really looking forward to reading more about him in the future.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence which takes place mostly off the page, threats of sexual assault, and minor language. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Hunted by Megan Spooner, A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
2 Responses
  1. I enjoyed this one as well. I found myself, like you, curious about Gray. I am looking forward to learning his story in the next book.

  2. Kindlemom Says:

    I absolutely loved this so I'm so excited that you did too! I can't wait for the sequel!

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