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Ratings and Book Reviews (8 77 star ratings
8 reviews
)

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5
77
5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star
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  • 6 person found this review helpful

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    I was so wrapped up...

    4.5 stars — This was the kind of book that gave me tummy tingles from nerves and anxiety and had me growling in frustration and racing to the bathroom yelling “Dammit, I have to pee!” to my husband because my bladder interrupted my reading time. I think that speaks for itself. 😛 I loved Harper. She was fierce, bold, if somewhat impulsive and reckless. I didn’t mind that she made those missteps, because *I* would make those missteps when presented with a foreign world with completely different rules of living. I think, in the end, that Rhen (and Grey) really appreciated the unique and unfiltered perspective she brought, because she was unencumbered by traditions. I found the dichotomy of being so fierce with her soft heart and lack of stomach for violence to be intriguing. She is faced with this crazy situation, and she is threatened, and sometimes she’s jumping in headfirst attacking, and other times she cannot watch someone with ill intent be killed. It was…odd. It both worked and didn’t work for me. I think if she hadn’t been so attacking at times, I would have understood it more. And I did understand it to an extent, just…something. I did love how we got to see a strong disabled character, who had to deal with those limitations, but it was just a small part of her story, it wasn’t her whole story. Basically it was a perfect diversity story. Rhen was hard to love at first. I felt for his despair and pain, but I also boggled at his inability to see the truth of the entire situation. That he hadn’t even considered the logistics of finding someone to love, it was all just a means to an end. He was an interesting character in that way, because it was hard to like all of him at the beginning. But I think that made his growth and transformation that much more satisfying. It made me connect with him when he started to fall for Harper. It was so hard to see him develop hope only for Lilith to come in and destroy it. Sometimes I wanted him to defeat that better, to give people a bit more credit, to grow just that teensy bit more. And then there’s Grey. I loved him as a character, and I loved how he provided a counterbalance to Rhen. He was fiercely loyal, and incredibly frightening in his abilities. I definitely want to know more about him. I loved the almost friendship he had with Rhen, and I loved the friendship that he formed with Harper, and how he supported her. The romance had amazing parts, and had lacking parts. I loved the way they slowly got to know one another, and trust one another, and I appreciated that so much. And I definitely felt some chemistry between them. But at the same time, I was never quite certain if it was supposed to be a love triangle, or if I was misreading things. I wish it had been slightly more clear one way or the other. The ambiguity didn’t work for me. I, personally, am not a love triangle fan, but I could have tolerated it if I’d known if it was present. I know that sounds weird, but the middle ground was just unsatisfying. Even at the end there were these moments where Harper, Rhen and Grey each individually had these thoughts and memories, and I’m not entirely sure what point that was supposed to be driving home. Maybe I’m just too dense. I like things clear, at least by the end. And even setting aside the weird love triangle that was or wasn’t, the ending with Harper and Rhen wasn’t entirely satisfying for me. I’m not sure if we’ll get more in the next book, but I don’t think so. So I was a bit bummed. I wanted that literary romance ending where I’m gushing, you know? The secondary characters were fantastic. I loved the relationships that Harper developed with Freya and Zo — they made me so happy. I’m conflicted about her brother, Jake, and Noah. I didn’t really like how that turned out…but not sure if that will get more resolution in future books. So yeah…I had a lot of semi-critical things to say, but even despite all that, I was just so wrapped up and enjoying myself that I still can’t help but rate this high. Don’t try to figure me out, I can’t even figure me out.
  • 2 person found this review helpful

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    Surprisingly Amazing

    This is YA fantasy EXACTLY as it should be. Amazingly, the hype is true. There is no insta-love, and A Curse So Dark and Lonely is full of complex emotions, features a heroine whose disability never defines her, a prince who is (slowly) learning his place, a stoic commander/bodyguard (whom I find very yummy, lol) and a supporting cast whom seem as real as the pages you read them off. Beauty and the Beast Re-telling I did not believe it was possible to do Beauty and the Beast in a realistic, socially acceptable way. It always felt to me, even as a child, like the most unlikely of fairy tales. Why would anyone want to love a cruel, killing beast? And yet Brigid Kemmerer gives us a 'beast' that is not only endearing but in fact worthy of some sort of affection. But it's not really our beast/prince that is the reason our lead gal gets tangled up. In fact it's the whole land he rules, it's people, it's sorrows and triumphs that bring her around. Before she can really appreciate or understand him; she needs to understand his circumstances. I feel like this is very true of real life. You can't truly love anyone until you understand where they are coming from. And yet it's not love... Now before you are thinking that the ending is obvious, she must fall in love with him, let me caution you. It's not that simple. This fact alone makes Kemmerer's story so much more complex than the average fairy tale. At no time is it a given that any one thing will happen. This is not your Disney "Happily Ever After" fairy tale. So be prepared as not everyone can survive, not everyone can be happy, and not everyone can fall in love. Loyalty There are many themes throughout A Curse So Dark and Lonely; not the least of which is loyalty. From loyalty to your family (aka: blood kin), to friends, to country, to monarchy, to your own values. Loyalty is a core piece of this story. I love the conflicting loyalty that is shown in Commander Grey (our prince's bodyguard). He is in fact my favourite character throughout the whole book (and not just because his descriptions make him sound sooo gorgeous). Grey has to find a way to live not only with his own guilt and grief but also with his constant turmoil over what his loyalty to the prince means he has to do. And this is played out time and time again. I want to say more but I will give too much away! Let's just say that Grey is a key character to pay attention to. I really like how Kemmerer didn't just make the prince and his (hopefully) curse breaking girly the only main characters. Without each of the people that they encounter, and definitely without stoic Grey, we couldn't have the story we do. Disability Representation Our lead gal, Harper, has cerebral palsy (CP). It's established early on. What's also discussed very quickly is that her CP is not near as bad as some have. She has a left foot/leg that does not cooperate much and has had many surgeries and physical therapy over the years. It was important to me that there be a reference to her being 'lucky', as Kemmerer calls it, that she can walk at all. My cousin has CP and he is bound to a wheelchair; yet that doesn't mean he isn't smart and capable. Because he is very competent, has a full time job and lived on his own for years. Impressive all from a wheelchair. I love how our lead gal is challenged by her disability but at no point does she allow it to define her. In fact she gets very fired up when people talk about it in any way other than what it is, a birth defect that she needs to overcome. It's a refreshing and wonderful portrayal of a physical disability. For once I have zero objections or issues with how disability is portrayed. It's really great to see an author get it 'right'. Emotional I feel like I keep saying how surprised I was by this story but I really have no better word for my emotions and reaction. The most surprising part of Kemmerer's story wasn't that it was a good fairy tale portrayal or that her characters were solid; it was actually how much emotion was in the pages. I'm not an emotional person most days and yet I was moved by so many small moments throughout the book. It wasn't one big sob fest; but it held these nuggets of progressing emotions that were as poignant as any climax. This increase towards possible love, friendship and appreciation felt just like real life often does. It's not an instant "I love you" moment for most of us. Be it with a possible spouse, friend or family member. It's something that evolves over time. The other interesting part was how often our characters question themselves and each other. They find themselves saying it is "real" or just "the curse". I think in real life we do this a lot too. Is this just lust or love? Am I sure this is "it"? These are difficult questions in real life and in fiction. I leave you with this quote from the story: "I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light."
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    Definitely a page turner!!

    I love a girl with spunk and a brain! I was captivated from the first page.
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    FANTASTIC

    Fantastic book! Totally needs and deserves a sequel!!
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    One of my fave reads of 2019

    This book was truly mesmerizing from beginning to end. It was dark and delicious and everything I wanted.
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