This post contains a gifted item.
Back in February this year, I picked up a book by an author I hadn’t read before, and that was A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I received a beautiful edition of the book in a Fairyloot box and having heard that it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling (and we all know how much I love a good BATB retelling) I was super excited to read it. Long story short, I LOVED it. I devoured the book in three days and then thought “sh*t, I’m going to have to wait a whole year for the next book“.
Well it looks as though somebody had been smiling down on me, because a couple of months back I received a very exciting email from the team at Bloomsbury asking if I would like to receive an arc of the second book, A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer. You can probably guess what my answer was, and yes there was lots of squealing and jumping around, but fast forward a few weeks and I had received, read and fallen in love with the next instalment in the Cursebreaker series. So, buckle up, get comfy and prepare for some serious fangirling.
Warning: Although this is a spoiler free review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken, proceed with caution if you are yet to read A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Harper has freed Prince Rhen from the curse that almost destroyed his kingdom. But all is not well; rumours are rife that there is a rival heir with a stronger claim to the throne and that ‘Princess’ Harper of Disi is nothing but a fraud.
Grey has fled the castle carrying a terrible secret. When he is discovered by soldiers and returned to Ironrose by force, Grey’s allegiances begin to shift. And as he grows closer to an enemy princess, he is forced to decide whether he will stand against Rhen for the crown he never wanted …
My review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken
From page one, everything just felt so much bigger. We are introduced to more of the world and its people, with the story reaching past Emberfall. Along with stronger world building, there are more characters and perspectives. However don’t be alarmed, our main characters were unique with distinguishable personalities and qualities so they never just merged into the ‘background’. With the introduction of many new characters, and as we followed them on their journey throughout the story, I definitely felt as though this was a more character driven book. Don’t get me wrong though, there was plenty of action.
While the series is marketed as youg adult, the second instalment felt grittier and more adult than the first. There is a particular scene featuring whipping and tortue and I was physically clenching my teeth at the gore and action. Personally I felt that this added a whole other layer to the story, adding more risk and stakes to the plot.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken featured some of my favourite YA fantasy tropes but through Brigid’s second to none world building and writing, they never once felt tired or old. There was a magical training scene which I LOVED. It showed us development for several of the characters in one go *applause for Brigid at this genius*. The training was also brutal but the soldier in Grey understood the necessity. We were also treated to a ballroom balcony scene which is always a good time.
This book had me utterly gripped. Every time I finished a chapter I needed to know what happened next, which meant that my afternoons at work after my lunchtime reading sessions dragged so much and I couldn’t wait to get home and pick up the book again!
My Thoughts on the Characters
Although I enjoyed reading about Grey in ACSDAL, particularly his relationship with Harper, he really comes into his own in AHSFAB. While Rhen and Harper do feature in the story, this book was much more about Grey and his journey, and the alliance between him and Lia Mara and her country. We see Grey develop, becoming used to revealing more of himself rather than the restriction that being a solider brings.
In the beginning I wasn’t sure how to take Lia Mara. Yes she is a princess but she is also compassionate and caring – would this help a world at war? Turns out I was wrong, and yes it would help. Lia Mara defies expectations at all turns, proving people wrong at every stage and not afraid to get stuck in to help.
Speaking of which, I loved the interactions between Grey and Lia Mara froom the start. Obviously there was a fair amount of distrust in the beginning because you know, their countries have been at war… but the two admired one another for their talents, even if they were enemies for a while. Aaaaand I was very firmly planted on the Grey and Lia Mara ship. It blows the Grey and Harper ship out of the water (hahah this was a genuine note I took and I now realise that I am accidentally HILARIOUS with my puns).
The relationship between Grey and Lia Mara wasn’t just one of sexual tension (though hello this is definitely a thing), the two form a bond of shared admiration and respect. Grey motivates Lia Mara and doesn’t patronise her, while she is able to charm and distract the usually so stoic man.
Along with new characters from other parts of the world, we also meet new creatures such as Iisak the Scraver. I really enjoyed seeing his development throughout the story and I definitely didn’t see the big reveal surrounding his character coming! Tycho is also a new favourite character – so sweet and brave and loyal.
The ‘found family’ aspect of this book was the perfect inclusion; watching all of these very different people come together to help achieve a common goal, understanding how despite being so different they all truly care for one another.
Although only featuring slightly in this book, I was happy to see Harper was still giving a big F YOU to what is expected and just caring for those she love unapologetically. And, while I wasn’t Rhen’s biggest fan for the majority of the book, I came to understand his stress and panic and recognise the PTSD that Brigid handles with such care. I am definitely interested to see his progression as the story continues.
My Final Thoughts
Thank you for checking out my review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken! I feel like I just haven’t done this book justice though! There are so many layers to this story and parts that I loved, I really just couldn’t tell you about them without massively spoiling the story.
Now, I cannot believe I have OVER A YEAR for the next instalment??? I just couldn’t get enough of the story and I’ll definitely be re-reading the two books ahead of the third next year, especially after that cliffhanger.
Sitting at the top of my favourite books of 2019, I implore you to pre-order A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer. If you like high stakes, fast paced fantasy with swoon worthy yet realistic romance, badass female heroines and found families then you NEED this book!
And to sum up my thoughts on this book in one line, taken from the notes I made while reading…
JUST. GREY. More. Grey. Pls.
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