In book review

REVIEW: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Release: March 2018
Rating: ✭✭✭✭/5

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

Hello lovelies, I'm back! After spending a weekend in London I'm fully recharged and ready to go back to blogging. Up next: my review of A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer! I've read this book a while ago, while reading it for a buddy-read with my friend (shame on me for only writing my review now). From a lot of my friends I'd heard that this book left them shook, which resulted in a lot of anticipation on my end!

What is this book about?
A Curse so Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and centers around the teenage girl Harper, who has been forced to survive on the streets due to her dying mother and a brother with a knack for trouble. When she attempts to rescue an unconscious woman she encounters on the streets of Washington, she is magically transported to Emberfall, the fantastical kingdom under Prince Rhen. Rhen, however, isn't your typical prince. He is cursed by a witch to continuously repeat his eighteenth year, in which he turns into a horrific beast every single autumn. The curse can only be broken if he manages to make a girl fall in love with him, which should be easy enough, right? But Harper isn't sure what to make of this new situation she finds herself in, and the curse doesn't seem to be the only thing they need to worry about...

"This early in the season, 
the other girls would sit by the hearth and gaze at me over crystal goblets, 
while I’d pour wine and tell stories with just enough devilishness to make them blush.
 If I put a crystal goblet in this one’s hand, she’d likely smash it and use the shards to cut me."

 What did I think of A Curse So Dark and Lonely?
Right off the bat, I thought A Curse so Dark and Lonely had a very pleasant writing style. It's very to-the-point, easy to get into, and picks up quite a bit from the start. Despite the seemingly big size of the book, A Curse so Dark and Lonely reads like a dream. It's fast-paced, introduces the characters as well as the story nicely, and the fairytale-like elements in it had my Disney loving heart soaring! 

I really liked the three main characters, and the very different characterizations of all of them separately. The book is divided into three POV's, and each have a very distinct voice. I particularly liked Rhen's character (my emo boy, I loved him!). Additionally, the main relationship pulled me in and I found myself rooting for them a lot throughout the novel. Also, this book has disability rep in the form of Harper's character, who has celebral palsy. Harper's determination made her such an empowering character that I think a lot of people can relate to!

Plot-wise, I enjoyed the majority of the book A LOT. Kemmerer's take on the traditional Beauty and the Beast story is original. The idea of a whole new kingdom that exists separately from contemporary US life in which Harper is immersed was a nice twist, as well as reading about her process to adjust in this new fantastical universe. The massive plot-twist at the end of the novel, too, made this book such an unexpected love!

The main issue (or the only issue) I had with the book was the love triangle the writing seems to be setting up for in the next book. I'm not sure if I was meant to interpret it this way, but it seems to strongly hint at a plot like this. I'm not typically a huge fan of the love triangle trope and I think that should've been left in 2011. I won't judge too quickly, though, and I'll see how it plays out in any future books in the series.

All in all, this book didn't leave me as "shook" exactly as I'd hoped it would, but it's a solid fantasy nonetheless. A Curse so Dark and Lonely nicely sets up the plot for future books. The plot-twist at the end was interesting, and the writing style was well-paced. This book made my fairytale-loving heart happy, which is why I'm giving it a solid 4 stars. I can't wait to see what the second instalment will bring!


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In arc review

REVIEW: Candle and the Flame

Title: The Candle and the Flame
Author: Nafiza Azad
Genre(s):  Young Adult, Fantasy
Release: May 14th, 2019
Rating: ✭✭✭✭✭/5

"The desert sings of loss, always loss, 
and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, 
it will grieve you too."

Ever since laying eyes on this over-the-top GORGEOUS cover, I've been in love with this book. The Candle and the Flame pulled me in with its enchanting premise and I couldn't wait to devour it. Imagine how elated I was to see I could read this beauty early! The Candle and the Flame blew me away with its fantastical story and Nafiza's magical writing style. 2019 has a bunch of diverse fantasies coming out, and I'm absolutely LOVING it. Then, it's probably no surprised I ended up adoring everything about this beautiful book.

What is this book about?
The Candle and the Flame follows Fatima, who lives in Noor, a city previously destroyed by the Shayateen Djinn. The only ones who survived the attack were Fatima and a few others. Now, peace has seemingly returned to Noor under the rule of a new maharajah, and the city currently lies under the protection of the Emir, Zulfikar, and his army of djinn. Carrying her past with her, Fatima has been surviving on the streets of Noor for as long as she can remember, however, when one of the most powerful Ifrit dies, something fundamentally changes within Fatima's being. She is pulled into a whole new world, and something bigger than she ever imagined existed has come for her.

"The humans call this place the Desert of Sadness,
they believe that the land grieves for the forests that once stood on it."

What did I think of The Candle and the Flame?
The Candle and the Flame weaves such an intricate and immersive story, it's hard not to be pulled into this beautiful world right from the first page. The beginning of the book nicely sets the stage for this fantasy standalone. There is a lot of world-building going on in the first chapters, which I found infinitely fascinating. The author manages to incorporate so many beautiful Silk Road as well as Islamic cultural influences, which I absolutely adored. The book is filled with beautiful languages: Arabic, Hindu, Punjabi, to name a few, and she manages to seamlessly transition between them to create an intricately crafted universe.

Despite the fact this book is rooted in fantasy, The Candle and the Flame contains a lot of social commentary that really hits the spot. I particularly loved how the book addresses topics such as women's rights by taking on a fierce and feminist take by for example introducing a matriarchal society, and the many (MANY!) kickass female characters. It's refreshing to see how women aren't pitted against each other for once, but instead they all receive a big role within this beautifully crafted universe. I also love seeing the multicultural universe that this book supplies, by mixing languages and cultural influences.

The writing itself is absolutely breathtaking. The tone of the book is so magical and fantastical and really helps to immerse the reader within the story and its world. The beautiful lyrical prose and elaborate descriptions really make the universe that the author depicts come to life.

I think the characters, too, were very nicely done and built, considering this book was always meant to be a standalone. Stand-alones have the danger of falling into the insta-love trap because there is so little time to start, build, and conclude a story. I loved the relationship between the two main characters, and the romance didn't feel forced at all. Instead, the novel had a very fairytale-like feeling, with its magical aspects and its deep romantic bond.

I genuinely ended up adoring this book. The world-building, gorgeous culture, and solid themes are what made The Candle and the Flame stand out for me. I think this is an excellent book if you're looking for a great immersive standalone that, despite its fantastical elements, bears an important message. This read is a solid 5 stars and I can't wait to see what the author writes next. I LOVED IT!

Goodreads | Amazon

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