ACTUAL RATING 4.5 A Curse So Dark and Lonely opens on New York. A teenaged girl, Harper, waits as lookout for her brother as he threatens an unknown person who hasn’t paid their debts. While she waits, a woman is being kidnapped, stolen from the streets by a man determined to save his lands by breaking his curse with her love. Next minute, the tables are turned and suddenly he is on the ground while his prey runs for her life and Harper brandishes a tire iron. Fade to black and she wakes to a foreign room, foreign men and her kidnapper awaiting her return to the world of the living. I loved how this opened, it got me excited for a novel which has been hyped to within an inch of its pre-publication life. But let me tell you now, it actually deserves it. Now, if you aren’t into the cover thing, that’s all good but seriously, my main reason to request this from Bloomsbury was this cover. Its blue (the arcs are shiny, and silver and I covet them but meh, Ill just have to get the normal one) and covered in leaves. It’s all ambience and broody and pretty much tells the reader just what they are getting in for. Harper has cerebral palsy; she should be limited by life but instead finds ways around it. Throw a villain at her? Instead of fighting fair, she uses her surroundings. Need to escape? Well, she can’t climb but she can sure as hell try. She doesn’t let her altered ability stop her and I absolutely loved it. For the majority of the novel, I actually forgot she had legs that don’t work properly because honestly, except for the few points where she mentions it and the little passage at the end, Harper is a normal teenager who hates being confined to their room but refuses to speak to her elders. Basically, she is genius when it comes to an MC. The men of the piece, Rhen and Grey, are so damned knightly and proper, I actually rolled my eyes at their introduction. But only for a minute. After around 1/3 of the novel, I wanted to beat Rhen to a bloody pulp because, honestly, you just can’t fix stupid. Grey on the other hand, I wanted to grab a hold of and whole bodily push him in the direction of his lady friend. By the end however, I just wanted everyone to be ok. Like, that ending had me feeling all the feels (not cool Kemmerer). Now essentially, A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a Beauty and The Beast retelling but reversed so as the prince gradually becomes more Beastly than less. It’s a great twist and one I really enjoyed. At its bare bones this tale would have been good. Under Kimmerer’s guidance, it was amazing. The scenery was magnificent with its changing of seasons after a single step, the castle felt more like it had personality than just being a random building and instead of a wilting rose, this version has scales which slowly creepy onto our prince. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and story, but the real stars of the show would have to be the secondary characters. First off Harper’s handmaiden is just auntie goals. She is soft and squishy and full of love but also has a diamond hard exterior where nothing can get to her. Karis Luran, while rarely actually present is so sinister that I cower at the thought of her attacking the unwitting neighbouring lands. She is all spite and venom and ultimatums (A+ girl-villains!). Jamison is just so ridiculously loyal that I can’t fault him. He is knightly and regal but knows what it is to be close to rock bottom. But the ultimate meanie crown and my favourite character would have to be Lillith. A scorned witch determined on getting revenge, she puts Rhen into an endless loop of torment for his sins. Occasionally popping in for a visit to check on his progress, the Witch Queen (not an official title but what can you do) is all things vindictive. I especially loved her torturing Grey for being protective of Rhen. Note to everyone out there – if you want to write a nasty girl who hates men, check out this novel because this woman is amazing. I feel she is warranted in her actions and you will fil at any attempt to convince me otherwise. My only peeve with this was the fact that I found it just a tad too predictable. From Rhen and Harper’s narrative arc’s to Grey’s real identity, I was unfortunately able to pick them all. The clichés aside, I found this novel very enjoyable and accidentally read it straight through, finally going to bed at 3am. It’s a very healthy and almost perfect 4.5/5.