Review: A Heart So Fierce & Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.”


A Heart So Fierce & Broken is the second book in the Cursebreakers series by Brigid Kemmerer. I absolutely loved A Curse So Dark & Lonely so I was excited to pick up this book. This is the second book in the series, so there will be a few spoilers. Proceed with caution.

This book picks up with the big reveal of Grey being the missing heir. The kingdom of Emberfall has been thrown into chaos. The curse has been broken, the “monster” is now gone, but a civil war is brewing over the missing heir. There is also discourse over the kingdom of Disi. Princess Harper promised (non-existent) troops and the people grow leery of this promise. Grey must come to terms with his new status, and make the ultimate decision about the future of Emberfall.

Okay, so I didn’t love this book which was really frustrating. First, let’s talk about the things I liked. The pacing is great in this book, even though I didn’t really love it, the plot really moved. I liked learning more about the kingdom of Emberfall and the addition of characters from the kingdom of Sylh Shallow. I also enjoyed the relationship between Lia Mara and her sister.

Now, let’s get to the parts that I didn’t enjoy. The thing I loved about A Curse So Dark & Lonely was Harper and she is nowhere to be found. The book mainly alternates between Grey and Lia Mara’s points of view, which makes sense since this is more Grey’s book. I just figured that there would be some chapters with her, involving what was happening in Emberfall. I also felt that this book shoved Rhen back to the starting point. All the character growth shown in the first book was completely lost. I guess my struggle was that it felt like this book had no point. They spent the whole book traveling, and Grey was so lost personally that it felt like the character just lost his voice. I still feel like I don’t understand why Grey wants the throne. With the epilogue reveal, it feels like we are just back to the very start of the series which I don’t love.

Overall, this book was a disappointment, so much so that I considered not finishing it. It is a testament to Kemmerer’s writing that I was compelled to finish. I’m still going to pick up the last book in the series because I need to know how Harper’s story ends.


Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Bridget Kemmerer

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.