A Curse So Dark and Lonely
by Brigid Kemmerer
The older I get, the more I fall in love with the Beauty and the Beast story. The romance, the magic, the enchanting friendships, and of course, that library! So it was a no brainer when I saw this book on BookOutlet that I had to pick it up ASAP!
This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling unlike any I’ve ever read or seen before. The bones of the original story are there, but so much was different in an amazingly-well-done way. Harper, our main character (Belle) hails from the here and now. Somehow she is thrust into another parallel universe, where she meets Rhen (this isn’t much of a spoiler…but he’s the beast, guys).
Not only is Harper from our time in this retelling, but she was also born with cerebral palsy. I knew that detail coming into this story, and was interested to see how it would be handled. Would it be gimmicky? Would it come off as a crutch for us to feel for this character? I was pleasantly surprised that none of my assumptions or fears proved true. I thought the author did a wonderful job navigating CP, and I loved Harper’s overall attitude. She was not broken, she had not been injured, this was who she was and how she was born. She took the world in stride, and learned how to make the world work for her strengths.
I really enjoyed these characters. Our three main characters, Harper, Rhen, and Grey felt so fleshed out and real. They truly had their own distinct personalities, which is something that can make or break a fantasy novel. I was laughing at them, and with them, from very early on in this book. I was worried, yet again (trust issues, I swear), that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Rhen’s universe and Harper’s, but the dialogue was executed wonderfully and intentionally. I swooned more and more whenever Rhen or Grey called Harper, “my Lady.” It was very clear that Rhen was a Prince from this fairy tale land, and Harper was learning to play her part in this new world.
I loved the stakes that were added to this story. The original save-my-family aspect remained, but it went a step further when Harper became involved in kingdom politics. She began to step up for Prince Rhen, his people, and his territory, when she could have easily lived a life of luxury with him in his castle. It was inspiring and heartwarming to watch how her actions were immediately mirrored by Rhen. They complimented each other so well, and they made each other better people through every laissez-fare experience, hardship, and trial they endured.
This is a pretty big spoiler, but also a trigger warning: this book deals with the death of a parent from cancer. The parent’s illness is mentioned quite often throughout the novel, but the death scene itself was rather quick, and handled tastefully.
There was so much I enjoyed about this book: the character growth, the multiple POV, the plot twist ending (those last three pages had me G O I N G), the slow burn romance, how much I hated the evil enchantress, how great Grey is as a character, the side characters that made me smile…this was the *chefs kiss* perfect fantasy read.