As it happens, most of the books I get from subscription boxes are the first installments in a trilogy, a duology or even a longer series. Standalones are hard to find in these boxes. So, one of the books I got in a FairyLoot box was “A Curse So Dark and Lonely”, the first book in the Cursebreakers trilogy and a Beauty and the Beast retelling. And I really love Beauty and the Beast retellings!
The story starts with Beauty, er… Harper, our female protagonist who is in current time Washington DC and is keeping watch for her brother. As she is there hidden in a dark alley, she sees a young woman in need of help. It looks like someone is taking advantage of her as she looks a bit drunk. So Harper goes after the guy in black and attacks him. That doesn’t work so well for her, as she finds herself in a castle. She is pretty much kidnapped and she is being held there against her will. Which is not so far from the fairy tale itself.
It turns out that the castle is enchanted and the Prince, Rhen, is cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the season of his eighteenth birthday again and again, and his guardsman, Grey, with him. The Kingdom of Emberfall has no idea of what happens at the castle. All the prince has to do is have a girl fall in love with him. This could end the curse. Otherwise, he will stay forever the monster he becomes by the end of each season.
If one overcomes the fact that Harper was actually kidnapped and she has come to terms with the fact that she could not go back to her world, the story is one to love! Given that this is a retelling of a fairy tale with a monster, some force and violence was to be expected. So, from that point of view, I understand the kidnapping part. It was Harper’s strong heroin character that got her is this whole mess, not that I justify the kidnapping to be clear with everyone. This strong heroine character is what I really liked about her. She spoke her mind and acted for what she believed was fair. She didn’t expect for other to take care of those in need, but she did it herself, expecting no one to actually do it. She was used to that kind of treatment in her world and she knew that nobody will help the poor and week ones. She was not a stunning beauty and she had cerebral palsy, but none of this stopped her from being loved by the people of Emberfall or from fighting for them.
I enjoyed the story in general and I enjoyed Grey’s and Harper’s characters more than I did Rhen’s. Grey was a true hero with a lion heart. He was the brave and kind male figure that could easily have a girl fell for him. And I also loved the chemistry between Grey and Harper. It seemed that there could be something more between them than just friendship. Rhen was okay for me, I’d say. He is the Heir Prince, though he has forgotten about his people. He seems so consumed of his own problem, his curse, that he doesn’t really seem to understand what is happening to his kingdom since the curse begun. That’s a part that didn’t sit well with me. He should have done something for his people long time ago and not wait for Harper to point it out! Though, it did server the plot I guess.
My favourite character in the book was Grey. That being said, I’m not sure how I feel about the ending… At least I get to read the next book in a few days.