Content/Trigger Warnings: Abduction, captivity, talk of cancer, terminal illness, loss of a loved one, murder, death, grief, torture, trauma/PTSD, abuse, a pedophile comment, attempted sexual assault (by Lilith), thoughts and attempts of suicide, a lot of ablest speech (always in a negative light from the villain)
“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”
Friends, I truly wanted to love this books with my whole heart. I mean, it’s a retelling and a Beauty and the Beast retelling at that. And we all know I love a good retelling, but despite many good elements this book offers, I couldn’t give this book five stars. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that book two will be better.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that has the crown prince sealed into a Groundhog’s Day effect, where he’s forced to repeat the same season to find a love that will break the curse. But at the end of each season, should the prince fail to find love and break free of the curse, blood will be spilled and terror will descend upon the people of the kingdom. However, after three-hundred seasons, this will finally be the last season.
⚔️ The Characters ⚔️
⚔️ Harper – The Belle. Eighteen years old and living with high functioning cerebral palsy, Harper isn’t living the easiest life before she’s captured. Living with a mother who has cancer and can’t afford medical treatment, a father who vanished after stacking a high debt to crime lords, and a queer brother (Jake) who takes on the burden of providing and protecting the family. *Side Note: There are many forms of cerebral palsy, I can’t confirm if this is accurate representation. However, if you are an own voice reviewer please send me a link for your review so I can boost your voice and feelings about the representation!*
⚔️ Rhen – The Beast. The prince of the kingdom. I mentioned above that his goal is to bring a girl back to his kingdom and make her fall in love with him. Should he fail, he turns into a different beast each season and destroys anything and everything in his path. Then a new season will begin and the curse repeats itself.
⚔️ Grey – Rhen’s guard commander, the only living person left in the castle. He takes his job very seriously, loyal to the bone, and the only one with the ability to portal between worlds. With all that being said, Rhen bestowed the task of capturing the girls and bringing them back to the castle.
⚔️ Lilith – The enchantress. The one who cast the curse over Rhen and his kingdom.
⚔️ Freya – An underrated character of this book! A single mother of her own child and taking care of three of her sister’s children. A character that hit so close to home in every single way. I would love if she received her own novella or series because she is a true gem in this whole book and deserves her own happy ending.
All these characters will come together to set the scene for the rest of this tale and to deliver a different story of Beauty and the Beast. You will see Harper become a warrior princess and decide if she’ll save this kingdom from impending doom, Rhen decide if he truly wants to spend his last season withering away in a castle or if he’ll step up to save his people, and watch how things come into place.
Throughout this entire book, there’s a heavy element that opens up the discussion of responsibility. More specifically about taking responsibility for things you don’t have control over. Whether that be deteriorating health of loved ones or people doing bad things to you and the people you care about. There were so many scenes sprinkled throughout the book that open this discussion and I truly believe it’s important to shine light on that. Some things are out of our control and I think it’s very easy to just take responsibility. If you don’t who will, right? But sometimes it’s not our responsibility, when do we say enough is enough, and I like how it opens up so many discussions around this topic because so many fall to this default.
“We are all dealt a hand at birth. A good hand can ultimately lose – just as a poor hand can win – but we must all play the cards the fate deals. The choices we face may not be the choices we want, but they are choices nonetheless.”
I also want to talk about the mental health representation in this book. Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of mental health representation and struggles throughout this book, and I encourage any reader to practice self-care while reading this book. There were a lot of scenes in this book that were extremely hard to read through. More so from Rhen’s perspective of the book. Rhen undergoes a great deal of trauma and I believe with my whole heart that it is important to say that the trauma and PTSD Rhen suffers is very accurate, valid representation. Not all trauma comes from wars and sometimes it comes from someone mentally breaking you repeatedly, watching the people you love and care for have harm dealt to them. It touched very close to home and I really wanted to shine light on that because in society we don’t often talk about trauma or PTSD and the best way to break the stigma is by talking about it more. I also liked seeing the representation for mental strain, guilt, and the waves of grief we see Harper go through in the first couple of chapters of being separated from her mother and brother. One thing that isn’t often talked about is the guilt and mental strain someone can feel when they’re miles away from a loved one who is terminally ill. Seeing that representation with Harper in the first couple chapters of this book, it hit close to home and I know for many readers this will also hit home. There will be a lot of hard moments to read through in this book, but the representation of mental health is so accurate and I hope more readers will shine light on it.
“Not all scars can be seen, my lady.”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t give this book five stars. What really hindered my thought process and impacted my reading was the odd pacing and length of this book. There were chapters in this book that felt like it was just dumping information or details while there were other chapters that felt like they went by too quickly. I don’t often say this, but for the length of this book, I think the author could have introduced either Grey’s or Lilith’s perspective, have that three point of view situation, and I would have enjoyed it far more. Normally, I don’t like more than two point of views, but I truly believe the author could have really made this interesting with adding that third perspective instead of just giving us Harper and Rhen.
Overall, this was definitely a unique spin on Beauty and the Beast. I think if you’re a lover of Beauty and the Beast or retellings then you will probably want to add this to you list. And this is a trilogy! So there’s two more books right after this one and you bet your apple pie I’m rooting for Grey and Harper to end up together, someway, somehow. However, I don’t know if I’ll continue on with the series. I haven’t heard enough about the second book to consider picking it up. Maybe in the near future I will though, you never know. I am a sucker for a retelling!
Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection ❤️