This post contains a gifted item.
I’d heard some really great things about this retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in a private boarding school. So when I saw that Hodder had advanced copies of Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon up for review I just had to request one! I very gratefully received one not long after and couldn’t wait to dive in. Particularly as my favourite book happens to be a retelling of the same tale…
Back in 2017 I read When Dimple Met Rishi, which was my first foray into Sandhya’s work and I enjoyed it so I had high hopes for this story. Keep reading for my non spoiler review!
Will the princess save the beast?
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime.
She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.
Told in dual perspective, the story unfolds through both Jaya and Grey’s eyes. As a member of the Indian royal family, Jaya has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, both as a female in her culture and as a future ‘monarch’ as it were. The pressure she felt was immense and it was easy to see her struggling between what she felt she should do and how she should act, as opposed to how she wanted to.
Because of this, I felt that at times she wasn’t necessarily a likeable character because I couldn’t help but think “why are you doing that!” However looking back I can totally understand why.
Grey was our typical brooding love interest, the good looking aloof member of the group. He keeps himself to himself for the most part. Though he goes out of his way to stick up for someone being bullied which I loved! For some reason I totally pictured Shawn Mendes as Grey?
Throughout the story I really did feel for him and come to understand why he acted so “off” with his friends. Grey felt responsible for his mother’s death, after being constantly blamed by his father from the age of six. Wow this guy’s dad was a d*ck!
With students from all over the globe, this book was super diverse. Alongside characters of varying ethnicity, there were also characters of different sexualities which I was so pleased to see. Obviously I cannot comment on the accuracy of any the representation. However the novel is own voices as Sandhya is Indian-American.
While Of Curses and Kisses definitely featured some of our fave YA tropes like a school dance, a secret romance, a romantic tryst in the snow and more, there were also some more serious discussions. The story also visited topics such as white and male privilege, feminism in different countries, the colonisation of India by the British, arranged marriage and sexism to name a few.
Of Curses and Kisses was super sweet and a little cheesy read, with a strong message about self identity and standing up for your beliefs. Whilst it isn’t my fave contemporary read, it was a lovely piece of escapism and I really appreciated the nods to the classic fairytale.
I hope you enjoyed my non spoiler review of Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon. I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read it too! What’s your favourite retelling?
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