A note about me: I very strongly dislike fantasy books. I read the first title in this series, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, because it was a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” I love fairy tales, so I often read fairy tale retellings, despite them being fantasies, and love them. This was the case for A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I was immediately sucked into the story, and loved comparing it to the original tale. Plus the female hero in the book, Harper, has cerebral palsy, and how awesome is it to have a book like this have a main character with a disability! But I digress, I am here to talk about A Heart So Fierce and Broken, the sequel, which leaves the “Beauty and the Beast” retelling behind.
I had already been sucked into this story, so when I saw that the second in Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers series was coming out, I had to continue with the story. The story picks up a couple months after A Curse So Dark and Lonely, with Grey in hiding after finding out that he is the heir. Word of the heir has gotten out, and some of Emberfall’s citizens are questioning Rhen. Karis Luran, from Shyl Shallow, is once again trying to access Emberfall’s ports, but this time by way of an alliance. This time we experience the story from the alternating POV of Grey and a new character, Lia Mara. Lia Mara is Karis Luran’s eldest daughter, but her younger sister has been chosen as heir instead of her.
This book is very much Grey and Lia Mara’s story. We see very little of Rhen and Harper who had been the main characters heretofore, which is unfortunate. They both were such interesting characters, and I would have loved to see more of their character development, especially in the aftermath of so much change. What little we do see of Harper doesn’t provide anything new for her character’s story, and Rhen has become a sort of villian in this story. However, I loved getting to watch Grey grow throughout this book, and Lia Mara was an interesting enough character as well. It was fascinating to experience the dynamic between Lia Mara and her sister, as well as her mother.
At one point, PTSD is thrown out as an explanation for why Rhen has become such a jerk. I truly wish they hadn’t just thrown it in like a buzzword and then done absolutely nothing with it. Rhen having PTSD is totally plausible, and would certainly explain a lot of his actions in this book, but Kemmerer didn’t follow through with it, which made it feel like an excuse rather than a real disease that Rhen could be suffering from. As someone who is always on the lookout for quality books that feature PTSD, I was highly disappointed. I hope that in the third book, Kemmerer chooses to do something more with this.
Overall, A Heart So Fierce and Broken is going to be an immediate winner, especially considering how well A Curse So Dark and Lonely did at kick starting this series. Teens love their fantasy series, and this is certainly a higher quality choice. However, if you are looking for more of that awesome Beauty and the Beast vibe that we got in the first book, you are sure to be disappointed. This one is hard fantasy; no more fairy tale remnants and no more real world scenes either.