SYNOPSIS (via goodreads):
“Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. 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 constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? 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.”
At this point in my life, I will give any retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale a shot. It’s one of my favorite stories so honestly, it never really disappoints. So I, of course, needed to read A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Harper is a fierce heroine, who has cerebral palsy. I mention this because she doesn’t let her disability define her, and I think she is also the first YA Fantasy heroine I’ve read that has this disability which is incredible. This is very exciting for representation. She walks with a limp, and often gets sore and achy after doing physical activity. Her disability is not a main focus, and sometimes I wish she would have talked about it a bit more with Rhen and Grey, but I also enjoyed that they didn’t make it a defining feature.
Rhen and Harper have great chemistry, and the story really gives their relationship time to grow. Their development of trust feels genuine and isn’t rushed. I enjoyed that Rhen was bit different from other “beasts” that we’ve seen. He is a decent and genuine person, who through his upbringing found himself in this situation. He understands that he has made mistakes, but he has grown from them and learned. A lot of the time the “beasts” in other re-tellings have a temper and that’s the beast is a manifestation of that, which is what makes this telling so interesting. There is the hinting of a love triangle between Grey/Harper/Rhen, with Grey and Harper developing a friendship first. This love triangle doesn’t take over the book which was wonderful. I do have to say, I kinda preferred Grey/Harper than Harper/Rhen, but I’m excited to see how their relationship develops.
Overall, this book is really well done. The story is well paced and the characters and their relationships are well developed. I definitely recommend if you love YA Fantasy or fairytale retellings.