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REVIEW: A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

As we enter our story we are introduced to our main character Harper. Harper lives in Washington DC. Her father owed a lot of money to very powerful people and now that he is out of their lives, it means that their family has to take over the debt. Enter Jake, Harper’s brother. Determined to set this debt right, he has to do what these people want, even if it means hurting other people. In order to do this though, Harper plays lookout for her brother, but one night when she sees a man try to abduct a woman, she stops him but finds herself taken in the girls steed. Harper finds herself transported to the magical land of Emberfall and finds out about some curse the prince has, and that she may be the key to breaking it.

Prince Rhen is cursed by Lady Lillith after her rejects her advances after using her for a brief fling. Angry about this rejection, she curses Rhen to live out Autumn for eternity until someone falls in love with him. If he doesn’t find somebody by the Autumn of that season, he’ll kill everyone in a different way each time. Afraid of the monster that he will become if somebody doesn’t love him, he tries to kill himself but finds that he cannot and so still finds himself in this continuous cycle. Commander Grey, the man that Kidnapped Harper, believes that Harper is different than all the other girls he has abducted for Rhen and thinks that she may be the key to it all. Lady Lillith decides that this season will be Rhen’s last and if he doesn’t get Harper to fall in love with him, he will be a beast for the rest of his life.

Harper being the determined girl that she is, resorts to escaping but finds herself locked in her room after she fails. She does not want to be there and wants to go home, but she cannot. So she tries again, she climbs out of the two-story window and takes off on horseback. She finds herself at a farmhouse, which is burning to the ground and the family that owns it, is being held at sword point. Determined to help, she runs her horse into the swordsman and kills him, luckily for her; Rhen and Grey show up and take care of the rest.

Rhen, wanting to take care of this family, puts them up at a local inn. When the innkeeper asks who Harper is, she leads them to believe that she is a princess and that she and Rhen are to be married. Back at the castle, Harper finds one of Rhen’s rooms covered in blood, he explains that sometimes he dies but finds himself a live again once the new season begins but this is to be his last season and if he dies, he will be dead for real this time. Seeing the abundance of food that is at the castle that hardly gets eaten, she takes it to the inn in hopes making the family feel better but finds that when she and Rhen are there, those who claim they work for the crown attack the inn. It’s the wrong crown though; they work for Karis Luran, the Queen of Syhl Shallow. She tricks the armed troops into thinking that she is a Princess from the kingdom of Disi (DC) and will send troops to stop them. Grey forms the royal guard again in Prince Rhen’s name.

In order to survive in this world, Harper gets Grey to teach her how to throw knives so she will not be defenceless and they grow close. Lady Lillith puts a obstacle in their way to destroy their happiness. Lady Lillith tells Harper that her mother is dying and gives Grey the power to take her back whenever he wants to. That’s whenever HE wants to. She begs him but he does not take her because he wants her to break the curse. Whilst being at the castle, Rhen and Harper are drawn closer to each other but she struggles to find out what is real between them and what is just pretending. Rhen agrees to let Harper go with Grey back to her world and orders Grey to take her.

Harper is back in her world and tells Grey to come back for her in a day. He doesn’t come back straight away. Harper wanting to help her family out brings some jewels from the magical kingdom to get them out of debt. She sees her mother die and Harper spends time with her brother. Suddenly, Grey shows up whilst Harper is eating with Jake and his partner Noah. Grey explains that Karis Luran told Rhen that she knows that his father is dead and that the alliance is a sham. She tells him that his father had an affair with an enchantress and that child is the true king. Rhen tries to kill himself by jumping from a balcony but finds that his incarnation of the beast can fly. Whilst Grey is telling Harper this, the men who Harper’s father owed money to show up and Grey helps them escape by transporting themselves back to Emberfall.

To keep up the charade, Harper tells people that Jake is the Crown Prince of Disi and that Noah is a healer.

Harper gets through to Rhen in his beast form and gets him to help her in attacking Karis Luran’s army and they flee in fear of the beast. Harper is injured in the process but finds that Rhen truly knows who she is in that form. Grey stabs Lillith in order to save both Harper and Rhen and transports her back to the mortal realm. Grey does not come back meaning that Harper, Jake and Noah are trapped in Emberfall without a way back. The curse is broken but Rhen is unsure of why. Whether it was to do with Harper loving him or Lillith dying. Rhen is back to his usual form thank god.

The epilogue reveals that Grey is in Emberfall hiding from Rhen because Lillith told him something before she died, that he is the true heir of Emberfall, that he is the missing heir.

This book was absolutely stunning in both its writing and the plot. This story was a true beauty and the beast retelling with a twist and honestly, I feel in love with the world of Emberfall. Every single word gave a new meaning in the world building and gave it so much life. Brigid Kemmerer did such an amazing job at writing this book.

4 out of 5 stars


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