I requested A Curse so Dark and Lonely from Bloomsbury to review on Netgalley. I was honestly a little hesitant about this one, I put off requesting it for a while, but Milana really loved it so I went for it! It’s definitely heavy on the romance, and there a teeny bit of a love triangle. After that fizzles, I really started to dig into the story and the characters.
Click here to read the Synopsis!
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.
Like some other popular books out there in the YA world, A Curse so Dark and Lonely follows a girl split between our world, and a fantasy world. Magic does exist, but it’s mostly a background element. After the MC, Harper, is taken into her real life Medieval Times, she starts to learn about Rhen & Grey. A bit of a love triangle develops between these 3, but it doesn’t really last. The primary romantic tension captivated me for one simple reason.
Prince Rhen is basically Loki.
You may not know this about me, but I am a bit of a fan of Marvel Studios films. I am especially a fan of Loki Laufeyson. My dog’s name is Laufey. When my brain made this connection between the Asgardian prince burdened with glorious purpose, and the prince of Emberfall, I couldn’t unsee it. His snark and brooding manner are so reminiscent of Loki to me, and it was simply wonderful. I was rooting for him to find a way to love and be loved from that point on.
There are a lot of other excellent elements of this book aside from the romance though! Harper has cerebral palsy, which was incorporated into her character development to great effect. She learns to thrive in Emberfall no matter what challenges she faces due to her limp. She is stronger because of her desire to do everything she needs to. She never backs down from learning a new skill, but is still able to acknowledge when she needs additional time to learn it correctly.
The characters in this book are smart. They piece things together as soon as I did, most of the time. Usually I find myself yelling at characters (especially in YA) to put together the mystery of a story sooner, and I didn’t feel that here. The characters are also very communicative. For the most part they don’t keep secrets from each other (with some exceptions) and I found that really refreshing.
Not only is there a lot of romance in this book, but the bromance begs to be mentioned. Grey is Rhen’s Guard, and his closest confidant throughout the book. They have such a great friendship, and play to each other’s strengths and weaknesses so well. I loved watching them interact and try to help each other along throughout the book. The titular curse is not an easy thing for Rhen to deal with, and Grey really takes it all in stride. I think a lot of readers will love Grey.
So, even though this isn’t a book I would normally reach for I am so glad I did! I highly recommend this to anyone who likes their fantasy with a dash of magical realism, and some romance. It will be on shelves later this month, January 29th.