cursebreakers – brigid kemmerer | trilogy review

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Series: Cursebreakers #1
Published January 29th 2019 by Bloomsbury YA
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Representation: cerebral palsy


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Fall in love, break the curse.

Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.


Having read many Beauty and the Beast retellings, I’m always in awe when authors have managed to put their own twists into the familiar storyline. Brigid Kemmerer did that wonderfully as well. She added elements of war and foreign invasion which I thought was a refreshing spin.

Rhen seemed chilly, distant and uncaring but he’s, of course, not that. Just a facade to protect himself against hope and any other positive feelings due to his predicament. Most of the time, he just feels lost and defeated. Every failure at his task meant that he was failing his people, his guardman, and his kingdom. Rhen carried a heavy burden that no one would ever imagine carrying. He’s cursed to be a monster.

“I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.”

After being thrown into a strange world and getting trapped there with no way of escaping, it’s understandable that Harper’s confused and lashed out at her kidnappers. At times, she’s reckless and doesn’t think about the consequences of her actions. Regardless, she’s kind-hearted and nice. Harper suffers from cerebral palsy and it was inspiring to see her take on the world with unrelenting resilience.

Under his stoic mask, Grey is unwaveringly loyal. He’s the kind of character you would unconditionally cheer for because you just want him to be happy. He had stood by Rhen the entire time while the latter was under the curse. He’s the only one who knew the truth behind Rhen’s monstrous self.

Overall, the characters were amazing individuals and the plot was fast-paced. Brigid Kemmerer slowly unraveled the villain and the curse placed on Rhen. The epilogue made me excited for the second book, A Heart so Fierce and Broken.


The review of the next book, A Heart so Fierce and Broken, contains some spoilers of the previous book. Do not venture there if you haven’t read book one yet! 


A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Series: Cursebreakers #2
Published January 7th 2020 by Bloomsbury YA
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Retelling


Rating: 4 out of 5.


Find the heir, win the crown. 

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he 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.

Win the crown, save the kingdom. 

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been 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?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.


I’m liking this thing between Grey and Lia Mara. The love triangle trope isn’t a favorite so when it was sort of hinted in A Curse so Dark and Lonely, I just wanted it to end. Thankfully, in A Heart so Fierce and Broken, Grey finds his own path and listened to his heart as he interacted more with Lia Mara.

Despite being the older sister, Lia Mara’s isn’t the heir to her mother’s throne. Because of her kindness and compassion, Lia Mara was often underestimated. While her mother rules with an iron fist, it’s not how Lia Mara wants to, and hence, she’s out of the running. She’s a little naive and her heart is good. After the revelation in A Curse so Dark and Lonely, Grey had been hiding from Rhen, knowing that his presence would jeopardise Rhen’s legitimacy. It’s sad to see him being so tortured about this issue.

“Choices are never easy. There are good and bad options, but the most dangerous is to not make any choice at all.” 

Something that I would’ve liked is reading from Rhen’s perspective just to know what’s going on in Emberfall while Grey’s on the run. However, I do understand that this book is predominantly a Grey and Lia Mara’s story. Sadly, I’m starting to dislike Rhen. His actions aren’t without reasons and I’m hoping that he would overcome this obstacle soon in book three, A Vow so Bold and Deadly.


The review of the next book, A Vow so Bold and Deadly, contains some spoilers of the previous book. Do not venture there if you haven’t read book two yet! 


A Vow so Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Series: Cursebreakers #3
Published January 26th 2021 by Bloomsbury YA
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Representation: cerebral palsy


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.


Face your fears, fight the battle.

Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace. 

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.


Honestly, I don’t know what to think about A Vow so Bold and Deadly. For the most part, the characters are struggling with their personal feelings whether romantically or otherwise. As of A Heart so Fierce and Broken, Lia Mara and Grey’s relationship is going great while Rhen and Harper are facing some problems because of his actions at the end.

Since it’s written in all of their perspectives, readers get to understand Rhen, Harper, Grey and Lia Mara’s worries and emotions. War is looming, relationships are complicating, and distrust is rising.

The breaking news of Grey being the actual and legitimate heir to the Emberfall throne caused things to sour. Rhen is facing opposition on many fronts. His citizens and soldiers are questioning his rule and Harper’s inability to offer an army from her imaginary kingdom of Disi.

I did think that Rhen deserved more resolution in this one. Harper doesn’t know what to do or how to help Rhen. She couldn’t forget the brutality and harm that Rhen had inflicted on Grey and Tycho. As impulsive as she is, Harper has a good heart and soul. Things aren’t going well for the two of them.

On the side of Shyl Shallow, Lia Mara is trying to rule with compassion which is an unfamiliar notion to a kingdom that’s accustomed to violence under the hands of the previous matriarch. Though her gentleness is met with resistance, everyone gradually understood her position when she countered them with strength.

Surrounded by people who are afraid of magic, Grey encountered many problems since he needs to command a reluctant army who thinks he’s a spy. I did wish for more exploration of Grey’s powers as a magesmith. Despite that, he showed how great of a ruler he can be by gaining trust and respect from those who had shunned him previously. Plus, he was really sweet with Lia Mara as he provided constant support when her resolve falters.

As usual, the villain made use of each character’s feelings to sow discord and chaos. Ensuring that they stay divided was imperative for the person’s plan to work. For what it’s worth, I feel like the demise of the villain was too easy.

let’s chat:
have you read the cursebreakers trilogy? which is your favorite book out of the three?

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