Length: 496 pages
Release date: 29 January 2019
Fall in love, break the curse.
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But 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.
Meet Harper Lacy. She’s a very, very special girl, ladies and gentlemen. She’s resourceful (but she doesn’t realise it), beautiful (but she doesn’t care about it), and different to all the other girls. It’s not because she has cerebral palsy, although she does. And it’s not because she likes to ride horses, although that does make her stand out. It’s because she. Isn’t. A. Shameless. Gold. Digger.
For real, this is the premise: Prince Rhen has been reliving the season over and over again in a twisted curse that somehow worked better when Amarantha delivered it. As you may have realised, he has to get a girl to fall in love with him, so of course he goes about doing it the normal way: sending his henchman, Grey, to kidnap ones that nobody wants from Earth. Somehow, most of them have been happy to take advantage of all the food, dresses and jewels they can get until a few months in when Rhen turns into a monster and kills everyone. Awkward.
But Harper is different, guys. She hates Rhen’s guts (I WONDER WHY) and doesn’t have time for any of the princess stuff:
For a different girl, the best part of this bedroom would be the closet.
Yes, because that’s what every other girl is after, Harper. You are the only one on the planet who could ever THINK there’s something more to life than ball gowns and diamonds.
Speaking of Harper, don’t forget her number one personality trait: Complete, utter inability to listen to anyone but herself. Warned not to wander around in a potentially dangerous place? Takes off at the first chance she gets. Told how sadistic the villain is repeatedly, at every turn? Is SHOCKED when the villain is sadistic and evil. I get it, every heroine since Katniss Everdeen has had to be the feisty rebel, but there is a line where proactive crosses into dumb and Harper has way overstepped it. Naturally, she gets by with little more than scrapes and bruises thanks to Kevlar-grade plot armour.
No one stops me. Then again, I don’t ask for permission.
Don’t forget, she knows how rebellious she is as well.
For the likes of Harper, there’s no such thing as keeping your mouth shut to stay alive. Then on the opposite end of the sad spectrum you have Grey, who’s funnily in the running for the greatest, most enthusiastic lapdog I’ve seen. If Harper’s defining trait is inability to take advice or orders, Grey’s is that he does nothing BUT take orders. At one point he actually goes off on a monologue justifying Rhen’s abuse towards him because he is forever unquestioningly devoted. Somehow, this is seen as a good thing.
“I follow orders,” he says equably. “I bear you no ill will.”
This is after threatening to cut off Harper’s arm. But chill, come on, he was just following orders. He doesn’t actually have anything against Harper, really, he was just doing as he was told.
I don’t think I have to point out why “just following orders” is so genuinely scary.
Rhen doesn’t deserve anyone’s unquestioning loyalty, let alone someone as effective as Grey. At his best, Rhen was bland and unforgettable, and at his worst, he’s every stereotype of a royal playboy wannabe with too much power and too little empathy.
I hope the three main characters develop somewhat in the sequel, because I can’t see anyone choosing to subject themselves to several books of Harper, Rhen and Grey as they currently are, especially with a predictable plot and juvenile world-building. It’s not terrible, and there are some interesting bits as well as good disability rep, but everything just works out so perfectly for the protagonist that the story reads like her lucid dream.
*Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book! All opinions represented remain my own.*