A Curse So Dark and Lonely Review: BATB Retelling At Its Finest!

March 1, 2019 by Aila J. | 4 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

A Curse So Dark and Lonely Review: BATB Retelling At Its Finest!A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Published by Bloomsbury YA on January 29, 2019
Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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An instant New York Times Best Seller! In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

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.

This Beauty and the Beast retelling may have some familiar tropes, but it’s definitely not a fantasy to be missed! Kemmerer writes fantabulous dialogue in a magical realm where a girl from our modern day and age travels to. This girl, Harper, has cerebral palsy, but she proves time and time again with her cunning and triumphs that it does not define her, and that she is much more than her disability. I loved seeing the slow-burn, hate-to-love romance (MY FAVORITE TROPES?) develop between her and Prince Rhen, the other POV we are given in this story. Beauty and the Beast is quite a familiar tale, though, so here are some bullet points as to what else to expect:

  • Swoon-worthy guard, and best friend of prince plays a vital role.
  • Prince slowly learns to care for his people and is galvanized to take action after meeting the heroine.
  • So much awesome banter! The back-and-forth of the dialogue flowed perfectly, making the pages turn even quicker.
  • Really nice family dynamics that are only a tad touched upon.
  • An interesting world that is solidly built, although nothing quite special in the realm of fantasy.
  • Super slow burn romance (Super! Slow!) that I heavily appreciated and loved following.

Beware of these following tropes, though:

  • Not quite like the other girls (she’s special! We know.)
  • Romantic (?) tension between Harper and the captain of the guard (is it a good thing or no? Are we regressing into a – gasp – love triangle?)
  • Antagonist is a previously-spurned woman.
  • This is not a trope, but the fact that there’s a sequel for this book and it leaves off on a slight cliffhanger. I came into it expecting a stand-alone, but nope! I always like knowing this information before starting a book so I know what to expect in terms of how invested I will be in the story and how the ending might look.

I once thought the monstrous destruction was the worst part of the curse, but I’ve long since learned that it’s not. It’s this, the repeated humiliation and punishment. The powerlessness to reclaim what is mine. Being forced to watch as every dignity is stripped away.


I’m weak for Beauty and the Beast retellings, and A Curse So Dark and Lonely hit all the right notes! We have a witty and exceptionally hard-working heroine, Harper, who is tougher than she seems at first, and a guilty prince who’s at the end of his ropes… until a spitfire of a girl comes along. There’s a lot of familiar scenarios, but I personally welcomed them and embraced this fantasy like a hug I needed.

Trigger/Content Warnings: mentions of suicide, violence, emotional abuse, manipulation, self harm

Rating: 4 out of 5


Thank you Bloomsbury for the review copy!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$16.99 or from The Book Depository.


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Aila is a young adult reader who loves to transport herself to new dimensions through reading. She's currently an undergraduate student at university in the US. Let's talk about our obsessions on Twitter @aila_1woaa!

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