Top critical review
Turn back all ye who enter here.
Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2020
"Fear makes people act in ways we'd never expect."
The curse is finally broken, but rumors circulate that Prince Rhen is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Grey may be the heir, but he doesn't want anyone to know his secret. On the run since he destroyed Lilith, he has no desire to challenge Rhen—until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother's violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
"Ah, yes, the most dangerous person at the party is always the girl sitting alone with a book."
Coming off the high of the first book, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I was shockingly underwhelmed with this one. Going from a 5-star first book to a 2-star second book doesn't sit well with me, but here we are.
Let's start with what I loved: the dedication of the book.
"Look in the mirror. You’re a cursebreaker. You’re strong. You’re amazing. You are changing the world by just being in it."
The sisters. Lia Mara and Nolla Verin are two completely different people on opposite sides of the spectrum. But instead of breeding hatred, the sisters love each other instead. It's highly evident and can I just say this was super refreshing and I wanted more of it? We see opposites balancing the other in romantic relationships all the time...bring me more balanced siblings!
Jake. Rhen was Harper's sidekick in the first novel. Now Jake is Grey's. They actually suit each other really well and this bromance is totally a yes.
That was it.
Neither Grey, Harper, nor Rhen actually felt like...Grey, Harper or Rhen. I feel like this is some alternative universe that stole their names and completely changed their characters. Grey was no longer the somber and honor-bound guard I fell in love with. I understood his fears but I did not understand why he ran or why he insisted on keeping the secret that he was the heir once captured. He knows Rhen is strategic and smart. He knows Harper wants to preserve life, always, and to be just and fair. After going through so much together why is there suddenly no trust?!
Yes, let's just throw out everything that we tried to accomplish in book one and spit on the ashes, hmmm?
Speaking of Rhen...what bloodthirsty, idiotic JERK did Kemmerer replace him with? You can't tell me that Rhen wouldn't have figured out the secret anyway based on Grey's actions because it isn't like he spent centuries trapped with Grey and would know how he operates. If they had had a single freaking talk, none of this would have happened and they would have figured something out. But no. We have to spend the majority of the time hemming and hawwing that "this is for your own good." And I understand Rhen's throne and his people are everything to him but...
After spending all of book one not being the villain, why the HECK is he now the villain?????
And HARPER. The little spitfire I knew would have reamed Rhen a good one and not allowed him to do some of the heinous things he did. I loved them together because they truly brought the best out of each other. Instead, she's just a prop on a prince's arm full of tears and apologies.
Regardless of the fact that she understood he was scared and under a lot of pressure, she would not have allowed him to become a monster.
And the END. I just...nope. I can't do it. After being a good sport and making my way to the finish only for THAT to happen...I'm scrubbing this book from memory and considering A Curse So Dark and Lonely as a standalone.
Saying it louder for those in the back: turn back all ye who enter here.