‘A Curse so Dark and Lonely’ – Brigid Kemmerer

With the release of book two I decided it was high time I got round to this Beauty and the Beast retelling.

This time round our Beast is Prince Rhen, cursed to relive his eighteenth year time and time again. The only thing that will save him is to have someone fall in love with him. Unfortunately, over the three hundred plus seasons Rhen has tried this it has failed. When he turns into a monster Rhen has killed his family and is, slowly, destroying his people.

Our Beauty is Harper, a young girl from DC. We first meet her as she’s looking out for her brother, desperately hoping they can do what is needed to pay off their father’s debts and keep their mother safe. When Harper sees a man attack a young girl in the street she pursues him…and before we know it Harper is spirited away to Emberfall.

Not off to a good start the two characters are prickly towards each other from the start. Each has their own situation to try and resolve, and in our minds there’s a focus on the curse. However, their characters certainly play a huge part in the choices they make and how this impacts on them.

Rhen’s commander, Grey, is a great character from the start. Spirited but strangely loyal, he also develops a close friendship with Harper. At one point I wondered if this would be a cliched love triangle, but the role Grey plays is a much more interesting one.

Over the course of the book we see Harper and Rhen develop their relationship, but also develop as individual characters. We have the manipulative Lilith, the enchantress who has cursed Rhen, and political machinations as those around Rhen try to take advantage of the circumstances.

While the latter stages of the story are, in some ways, quite predictable I was struck by the developments around certain characters that suggest where this might go. I’m looking forward to reading book two soon.