Lauren here. It is safe to say we both LOVED our latest read: A Curse so Dark and Lonely – a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, or, as Willow put it, “A better version of A Court of Thorns and… Bullshit.”
Cursed to relive the same autumn forever, and transforming into a monster at the end of each season, Prince Rhen of Emberfall’s curse will only be broken when someone falls in love with him. Sound familiar? Think again.
Harper, the protagonist, is accidentally taken to Emberfall while attempting to bash Commander Grey over the head with something metal, she then escapes her room, steals a horse, and quickly becomes embroiled in military operations. She also has cerebral palsy, feels like a ‘real’ person, and is far from your usual swooning Damsel-in-Distress-type character.
Hold up. Who is this Commander Grey, I hear you ask? That’s right… there’s more than one love interest. We didn’t get that in Beauty in the Beast did we? Now, for me, I can’t seem to separate Commander Grey from Grey Worm in Game of Thrones, and I, personally, would like him to bog off a bit and make way for more moonlit dance scenes between Harper and Prince Rhen. I don’t care how many wiggly eyebrow gifs I receive from Willow about Commander Grey, you can’t beat lovely tortured, Prince Rhen. I mean, can Commander Grey turn into a monster? I didn’t think so.
Hi, it’s Willow, and can I just say: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩
It was with incredible self-restraint that I didn’t read this book in 24 hours. I managed to pace myself. It lasted three days. A Curse so Dark and Lonely has everything going for it. An intriguing plot of fantasy politics – not particularly far-fetched, either. How do you stop an invading army when you have literally no forces to stand against them? How do you win over The People when you’re responsible for their poverty?
I loved the protagonist. Harper was drawn into the world of Emberfall simply by being a decent person doing, what I would hope, most people would want to do when faced with similar threats. With no magic, no resources, and no friends, the protagonists genuiely had their work cut out for them. On top of the curse.
I was surprised by how resistant Harper was to falling in love with Rhen, too. This really felt like a book about two people getting to know one another, rather than falling in love because the plot has pre-determined it.
That said, I am hot under the collar for Commander Grey – Prince Rhen’s only surviving guard. This seems to be a trend with me – prefering the guardsman over the prince – but something about his relationship with Harper is 100% more natural. It seems to me that they are the true romance simmering away. The plot even acknowledges it a couple of times!
And right towards the end (SPOILER WARNING) it’s not confirmed what broke Rhen’s curse. Is it because Harper loves him, or because Grey killed the witch responsible for cursing them…?
It feels to me like a surprising twist, like in the next book we’re going to see Rhen fall in love with someone else and Harper and Grey realise they are free to accept their feelings for each other instead.
I like that the romance had me torn (but mostly for Grey) and that it seemed so inconclusive at the end. I couldn’t guess how they would solve the problems looming overhead, and I enjoyed that Prince Rhen was neither an absolute dickhead and neither a sweet saint. It was perfect arrogance.
Need a great romance this year? WE RECOMMEND THIS ONE!