Many stories have taken a chance by trying to retell the classic tale of “Beauty and the Beast,” and because of this, the differences between each retake tends to fade. Brigid Kemmerer, however, is able to successfully keep her telling of “Beauty and the Beast” unique and interesting in “A Curse so Dark and Lonely.”
The novel revolves around a cursed prince called Rhen who must repeat the autumn of his 18th year until he is able to find a girl who can love him as a deadly beast. Harper, our lovely heroine, is suffering in her home life with a deadbeat father, a dying mother and a minor case of cerebral palsy. These two meet in the “real world” and end in a “fake world” as Kemmerer makes sure to blur the lines between urban and high fantasy.
The plot itself is very “Beauty and the Beast” esq since it is a retelling, but it takes the Beast story and twists it. Rhen is not self-centered or absolutely disgusting to Harper when they first meet, he is actually pitiful and lonely. His “Beast” however, has a dark and gory twist which is revealed when he goes on deadly rampages and kills citizens every time he transforms.
The romance in the novel, unlike other similar novels, is lowly developed and isn’t a “love at first sight” cliche. Kemmerer also makes sure to talk about other types of love, like love for one’s country and oneself. Rhen isn’t beastly in personality and is a genuinely likable “Beast,” but he lacks self-love and “A Curse so Dark and Lonely” explores the back and forth bickering between someone with no self-love, like Rhen, and someone who has been able to overcome a ton of obstacles and still love themselves, like Harper.
One minor flaw the book does have is that it contains a cliche love triangle between Rhen, Harper and Grey (who is undoubtedly the best character in the book). However, even with following this cliche route, it is well done and truly leaves the reader standing at a crossroad, unable to decide which duo is better.
Overall, “A Curse so Dark and Lonely” is an absolutely amazing version of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” and doesn’t blend with other similar novels by having unique characters and a disturbingly gory version of the Beast. This book is definitely recommended for lovers of romance and fantasy.