Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer



Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Pages: 477

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 2019

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★

Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

if you haven’t read this book yet, please be aware that this review MAY contain minor spoilers. Proceed at your own risk!

Like a lot of books, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a super hyped book that I was a little unsure of. However, a lot of my friends have read this book and enjoyed it so I thought I probably would too. I definitely was not wrong!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and follows Harper after she is taken from the real world to the land of Emberfall. In Emberfall, she must become the curse breaker, a role she doesn’t know about yet.


I decided to pick this book up as I traded with someone for an ARC of A Heart So Fierce and Broken which is the second book in this series, coming out in January, so I decided it was about time that I read the first book. I really enjoyed this book but I think my main criticism of it is that it did feel a little bit slow at times. I know that books can’t constantly have action all the time, but I felt that the pace of this did slow down a lot between those kinds of scenes.

I quite liked the writing of this book, although as mentioned, I did find the pacing quite slow at times. I do think the writing suited this book and I found myself wanting to keep reading it when I couldn’t. I actually went into work quite tired a few days as I stayed up to finish this book. I’d describe the writing in this book as addictive. It was easy to read and understand which made it for a rather fast read overall. It was also perfectly descriptive – not too little but also not too much.

I thought the plot of this book was quite good. I went into it vaguely knowing what the storyline was going to be like seeing as it’s based on the story of Beauty and the Beast. Of course, it follows a girl being taken in by a Beast and this girl must break the curse. In this book, the Beast is a prince that relives the same season over and over again. It at the end of each season, he turns into a horrifying monster. Harper is the last girl that Rhen must try to capture the heart of before he becomes a monster enslaved to the one who cursed him forever.

Harper is a fierce character that I quite liked following throughout this book. She is an independent and feisty character. Plus, she lives with cystic fibrosis which does not hinder her or her character in any way. I thought it was really positive to see a character living with a disability that didn’t define her. This was really great to see in a fantasy book and I think it’s just even better to see disability representation in YA books so that more people can actually relate and see themselves in books. Harper is a compassionate character who really focuses on helping those less fortunate than her, despite everything going on in her life. From her mothers illness, to her and her brother just trying to keep going, she tries to help those that are in need.

The other characters in this book are Prince Rhen and Grey. I thought that Prince Rhen was a good character and similar to Harper in some ways but I also felt that he was a little selfish at times, not being able to see past what he wanted due to being blinded by the curse that binds him. Despite this, he did genuinely try to do what he thought was right and tried to protect his people from the Beast inside. Grey’s character was a tricky one. Throughout this book, he remains fairly neutral but a loyal friend to Rhen. However, in some scenes throughout this book, you could see his softer side peeping out.

In regards to the world building of this book, I thought that the land of Emberfall was described really well which definitely aided the story as I was able to easily imagine the different settings. The majority of this book did take place in a castle though which was a fairly easy setting to imagine. I think the setting up the world in this book was fairly important as it’s a fantasy So based entirely on the authors imagination, but I definitely think she was able to get her vision across in this book really well.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad that I picked this book up and that it pretty much lived up to the hype. It wasn’t a love love love book for me, but I did really enjoy it and as mentioned earlier, it did have me staying up past my bed time to read more of it and that’s something I haven’t done in a long, long while. I would recommend this if you’re looking for a retelling or a fantasy book, especially for the Autumn/Winter weather coming up. You’ll want to get cosy with this one!

The Priory of Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon


Title: The Priory of the Orange Tree

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 804

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (Gifted, thanks to Bloomsbury)

Rating: ★★★★.5

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

If the sun burned out tomorrow, your flame would light the world.’

The Priory of the Orange Tree has been one of my anticipated reads since I first heard about it so I was absolutely thrilled when Bloomsbury sent me a copy. Admittedly, though I’ve wanted to read it ever since I received it, I had been putting it off because of the size of it. Let’s be honest, it’s the size of 2/3 books so I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly quick read. I also planned fairly badly.

The intention to read it before the end of 2018 was there, but wanting to reach my Goodreads goal before 2018 ended got the better off me and so I opted for shorter books instead. Really, I should have been starting this beast of a book as it took me a month to read it and I finished the last 30 pages the day it came out. I think that it can be a little daunting when you first face this book as it is 800 pages. I know I definitely felt a little intimidated by it and like I may struggle, but it was such a fantastic book that I’m glad I finally read it.

I’m going to try and write this without spoiling anything as I want everyone to go into this book with no spoilers, so if this review is quite vague, now you know why!


In Priory, we follow four characters PoVs as Virtudom is on the brink of war. These characters are Ead, Tané, Niclays and Loth as they all navigate through the South, East and West. The world building in this book was just fantastic. It was so rich and descriptive that I found it easy to imagine the settings. Of course, rich world building in an 800-page book is something you would expect but Samantha really delivered. I didn’t find it at all confusing like I was first expecting. It was incredibly easy to follow because the settings were all so different. You can really tell that Samantha did so much for this book, not just because of the size but because of the sheer amount of detail throughout Priory.

Out of the four PoVs that we follow in this book, I think that my favourite was Ead but I also liked Tané. Both were prominent and were the primary focus out of the four characters we follow. I really liked Ead because of how there were so many layers to her and because she wasn’t afraid to do what was right. Tané was similar in that respect but she was also focused on herself and making sure she was the best dragon rider she could be. I liked Loth as a character but  we didn’t go to his PoV as often as Ead and Tané’s. I felt that Niclays really went on a journey during this book, but I personally liked his chapters least out of the four as I just wasn’t as invested in his story as the others.

Other than the 4 main characters that we follow, there are plenty of other characters throughout this book and all are fully fleshed out with backgrounds. Two of my favourite characters were Sabran and Meg. Although I did think Sabran could be a little cold at times, I did quite like her. Meg was such a good friend to Ead and I loved her attitude throughout the book. She was quite a badass as and when she needed to be.

Relating to characters, there was LGBT representation of f/f and m/m relationships and exploration of sexuality in this book which was good to see.

The dragons are quite a prominent feature in this book, or perhaps I should say wyrms. There are good dragons and bad wyrms which is different  There were quite a few different creatures featured throughout, but my favourite was perhaps the ichneumon called Arlaq who is kind of like Ead’s pet.

Although I found the pacing a little slow for the first 400-450 pages, as everything started to fall into place I found that it really picked up and the last 350-400 pages went by much faster than the first half. One thing that did slow the book down for me was the long chapters which is why I have given Priory 4.5 stars as I did feel like the long chapters did slow down the first half for me alongside the slower pacing.

I have read all books in Samantha’s The Bone Season series so far and I know that those books also have long chapters. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of Samantha’s books or her writing but I find that for me, long chapters slow the pace down meaning it takes me longer to read which is exactly what happened with this book. Despite the fact it did have long chapters, I was still interested in the book and was left wanting to read more whenever I put it down.

Final thoughts?

I found The Priory of the Orange Tree to be an enjoyable read that was incredibly well thought out. The character development was great, the world building was incredible and the plot was easy to follow. Despite the fact that the first half of the book was slower than the second half and the long chapters, I did find this to be a satisfying read and a really fantastic standalone book. I would absolutely recommend this book.