A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
|A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: An enjoyable riff on Beauty and the Beast with a fab central character who is not defined by her disability. A compelling read but on occasion slightly bloated.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: January 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
Harper's life is pretty disastrous at the moment, through no fault of her own. Her mother has cancer and not long to live. Her father has scarpered but not taken his debts with him. And her brother is forever getting into trouble. But Harper soldiers on nonetheless, despite coping with her own cerebral palsy. One day, she sees an attempted abduction of young girl and intercedes, only to find herself kidnapped in the girl's place. But even an imaginative girl like Harper couldn't have guessed where she was being taken...
... which is, to Emberfall, where Prince Rhen labours under the curse of repeating his eighteenth year until he can find a girl who will fall in love with him. Despite his commander kidnapping girls each year in an effort to break the curse, Rhen has been entirely unsuccessful in his quest for love and his kingdom is falling to rack and ruin because of it. Of course, Harper wants nothing more than to get back to her mother but to do that, she must teach Rhen to govern properly and defeat the evil witch who cursed him.
I love a good riff on a fairy tale and in this respect, A Curse So Dark and Lonely did not disappoint. It has enough of Beauty and the Beast in it to be entirely recognisable but it's also got some welcome additions and variations so you are kept on your toes as you read. I thought it balanced essential elements and both fantasy and contemporary additions really well.
I particularly enjoyed our central character in Harper. It's nice to have some disability visibility and I never felt as though Harper's cerebral palsy was a tick box exercise for this. She emerges from the pages as thoughtful and empathetic but also capable of fiercely independent thought and opinion. She's no kind of cookie cutter: neither damsel in distress nor kick ass heroine. A relatable and likeable well-rounded character and I absolutely loved her. We might be seeing Harper again, too, so that's good! The worldbuilding was detailed and consistent and provided a vivid and credible backdrop for events.
It's not perfect. The book is almost five hundred pages long and at times it feels a little bit bloated. A more ruthless red pen could have taken out some of the fat and improved things. And the first person, present tense narrative - which I personally enjoy - won't be for everyone.
These, though, are nitpicks. A Curse So Dark and Lonely reads well, takes a fresh approach to an old story, and brings a fabulous central character to our attention. Fans of contemporary fairy stories will love it.
If you haven't come across Brigid Kemmerer before, we thoroughly enjoyed her novel Letters to the Lost - give it a try!
You can read more book reviews or buy A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer at Amazon.com.
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