Kemmerer, Brigid. A Curse So Dark and Lonely. New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.
Hardcover | $18.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1681195087 | 484 pages | YA Fantasy
I had no idea what to expect with A Curse So Dark and Lonely, except that it promised to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling that was a “different” from others. And indeed it was. I found myself impressed with the way it kept the bare bones of the original story intact, while adding a new and fresh take.
One of the standout aspects is the positive disability representation. I love the way Harper’s cerebral palsy figures into her character, but isn’t something that dominates her character to the point of being stereotypical. She’s very much a strong character whose disability is a part of who she is, but doesn’t overshadow the fact that she is also someone who is very family oriented and loving.
Rhen’s character also intrigued me, as I like how Kemmerer not only brought a different take to the “Beast” aspect of himself, but also made him someone to root for, regardless of what form he takes, whereas other interpretations put so much effort into developing the Beast that the Prince almost feels like a stranger. He has some of the arrogance born of being a prince, but at heart, he truly is a good person who does want to do the right thing, especially given the fateful mistake that led to the curse being put in place.
I also like that this is very much a story in its own right, in that the central immediate conflict does conclude, with an ending that sets up the sequel. I’m also happy that, as much as Harper and the guardsman Grey built up a camaraderie in this book, there appear to be no plans to for a pointless love triangle, at least according to the current blurb for book two on Goodreads. It’s wonderful to see a YA fantasy book where it’s recognized that a girl can end up in a committed relationship with someone and also have a platonic friendship with someone else, and not have it devolve into a love triangle.
This was such a beautiful book, and I am excited to see where the story goes next, especially given what has been set up in this one. I would recommend this to those looking for an original take on Beauty and the Beast.