Title: A Heart So Fierce And Broken
Series: Cursebreakers #2
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retellings
Published: January 7th, 2020 (Bloomsbury YA)
Synopsis: Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.
Thank you to the publisher, Bloomsbury YA, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rhen’s curse is finally broken, but Emberfall isn’t out of trouble yet. Rumours of him not being the true heir continue to circulate and the people are discontent. Meanwhile, Grey has made it out of the modern world and back home, but is living in hiding, determined to keep the knowledge of his birth a secret. But when Karis Luran threatens to invade once again and his secret is revealed, the only way to save Emberfall might be to challenge Rhen after all.
I find it rather interesting that more and more retellings are taking the time to go past the traditional happily-ever-after ending of fairy tales and explore the realistic consequences of the events that occurred – as in this book, where the years of the curse have not done much to endear Rhen to the people of Emberfall no matter his efforts. Grey may have destroyed the enchantress Lilith, and is still loyal to Rhen, oath or no oath, but rather than face him and risk the knowledge that he is the true heir being revealed, Grey goes on the run. The fairy tale feel is rather gone from this story however, as the plot takes a more political turn.
The one thing I wished for in this book was POV chapters for Grey and not only did we get that, but he is in fact one of the main characters. Grey is still the same likeable character but goes through a lot in this book and along with discovering that he is the true heir to Emberfall, he also finds out that he has magic, something that has mostly been feared across the kingdom in recent years. A large part of his character arc is finding out who he is now that he is no longer oath bound as a Royal Guard. I was hoping for more individual character development on his part, but bringing a romance arc into the story more or less stopped that.
I’m rather ambivalent on the new characters introduced. It was nice to get Lia Mara’s perspective, and the insight into how things work in Syhl Shallow. She does have an important role towards the end of the book, but apart from that, I feel like she didn’t really do much. Sure she’s smart and brave, but rather conveniently so. It felt very odd when she put the pieces together and figures out things so quickly (even though the facts have been known to many others for a while) that it feels like it was just a way to move the plot along.
Then we come to Harper. Where she was basically the heroine in the first book, she is almost entirely sidelined in this one apart from a few odd scenes. Not to mention her just standing by while horrible things happen, which is completely out of character for her. This is obviously meant to be Grey’s book, but this complete 180 to focus on different characters was rather jarring. The same goes for Rhen who is painted in a very negative light in this book – but if you look at the events logically, he has every right to fear an unknown heir, and one with magic – the same force that ruined his life. Knowing that said heir is actually Grey should change his opinion, but that’s spoiler territory which I won’t delve into, but basically, giving Rhen such limited page time and no POV chapters did him no favours and as a reader, I found his complete change in personality not only hard to grasp but also exceedingly annoying. More or less ignoring two of the three characters that made book 1 work so well was a strange choice on the part of the author in my opinion, and it didn’t have whatever effect it was supposed to.
I’m not particularly happy with how this book ended – indeed, this series could have easily been wrapped up in a duology. And while I will be reading the third book, if only to see how things end (and it’s most definitely not going to be pretty), my expectations have been lowered. This is definitely middle book syndrome. An easy and fast paced read, A Heart So Fierce And Broken, while not up to the standard set by the previous book, is an entertainer all the same, which left me with so many unanswered questions that I hope book 3 will sufficiently clear up. Overall, if you enjoyed A Curse So Dark And Lonely, I would recommend this sequel.
A Heart So Fierce And Broken releases today, January 7th, 2020.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: A Curse So Dark And Lonely