Kemmerer, Brigid. A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Bloomsbury YA, 2019. 484p. ISBN: 9781681195087. $18.99. HS OT ***
Rhen, the crown Prince of Emberfall, is cursed to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over after rejecting the advances of a witch. The curse turns him into a monster hell bent on destruction and the only way to break the curse is for a girl to fall in love with him. This seemingly easy solution has evaded him time after time resulting in the death of his entire family and many royal subjects.
Harper’s life has, at best, been difficult. Her father is long dead, her mother is slowly dying, and her brother is a reluctant worker for her father’s former associates. Harper intervenes when she sees what she believes to be an assault of a young woman on the street in Washington DC and catapults herself into the parallel world of Emberfall. Now she is stuck in a world that she wants to leave, a world where there might be more at stake than just a princeling.
This is a character-driven fantasy novel that is light on the world building. The novel takes place primarily in Emberfall but the world is minimally explored and the whole portal-to-another-universe is left until the end of the book. It is more or less a run of the mill fractured fairy tale, with a few extra bits, like the fact that Harper has cerebral palsy and that her brother is gay. It would have been a more compelling book if Harper’s cerebral palsy was explored more deeply instead of treated as an asid. Even though there is nothing ground breaking here and much of the plot is obvious, there is a reveal at the end that will likely keep readers of romantic fantasy interested. This title is suitable for middle school shelves.
Carla Avitabile, San Mateo Public Library