496 pages | Bloomsbury YA | Fantasy | Release Date: 01/29/2019
The big marketing push for this book in the blogosphere totally put this book on my radar. Brigid Kremmer is a veteran YA author and the premise of this book sounded pretty intriguing; Harper, a modern teen girl, teams up with Rhen a prince from another world, to end a curse. While the ending is quite the cliffhanger I generally found that this book wasn’t for me
I want to preface this all by saying I’m sort of fascinated by YA Fantasy and the tropes it often inhabits. Tropes that I think are so prevalent that the YA Fantasy novel Damsel purposefully turns them on their head. Some things I keep an eye out for are :
No Boys …. Unless They’re Cute
YA Fantasy has no shortage of brooding cute boys. Usually royalty. If there isn’t one just wait until book 2
Capitan of The Guard
In a YA fantasy world, you can usually count on a high ranking bodyguard or royal protector. 9 times out of 10 this character is secretly in love with their charge. I feel like this character’s existence is an easy way to create an emotional bond between the main (usually royal) protagonist and the secondary character. Kremmer turns this concept on its head during the last few chapters which was pretty interesting.
There is always a rebellion. A lot of YA fantasy has a fight-against-the-machine-tear-it-down mentality. This is one of my favorites tropes in YA fantasy because whether or not I will read the second book in a series depends on how much the rebellion has changed the status quo.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely hits all of the usual tropes in a way that is satisfying but sort of predictable. When Harper is whisked away to Emberfall and meets Prince Rhen, who (after sleeping with an evil sorceress) is cursed to relive the same three months over and over again until he can find someone to love him.
Honestly . . . this curse is kind of convoluted
The curse only resets time on the grounds of Rhen’s castle….also, if he kills people they don’t come back… also, every time he fails to find love he is turned into a monster and attacks his kingdom. Also, he can leave the grounds of his castle if he wants to where time goes on normally but he doesn’t tell people he is cursed? Also Grey, his trusty commander– can cross worlds to kidnap girls because… reasons? I mean I get Grey having the ability to cross worlds to get the girls got Harper into the plot but … why? Why would that even be a thing?
The majority of this book was just a bit too earnest for me. When I read YA fantasy I like it when characters actions are flawed or selfish because sometimes being a teenager can mean being a little selfish. You never have to worry if Rhen and Harper are doing the right thing because doing what’s right is all they want to do.
There was also a lot of forced proximity which always makes me feel claustrophobic. For a large portion of this book, Rhen and Harper barely leave the grounds around the castle and so much of the story is focused on Rhen, Harper, and Grey that I didn’t immediately get a feel for Emberfall or what makes it special.
The ending intrigued me, I may check the next one out from the library. Also, I’m surprised there is no audiobook. I think Chris Coulson and Eva Kaminsky would be a great pair for this.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely features a heroine with Cerebral Palsy, if you are looking for that representation give this book a shot!
1/2 of the blogging duo at Books and Sensibility, I have been blogging about and reviewing books since 2011. I read any and every genre, here on the blog I mostly review Fantasy, Adult Fiction, and Young Adult with a focus on audiobooks.