Title: Once Upon A Broken Heart
Series: Once Upon A Broken Heart #1
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 28th, 2021 (Flatiron Books)
Synopsis: How far would you go for happily ever after?
For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.
Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic but wicked Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.
But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game – and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after or the most exquisite tragedy…
Evangeline Fox has always believed in the stories about happily ever afters and true love, until she finds out that her first love Luc is suddenly engaged to her stepsister. Desperate to get Luc back, she seeks out the Prince of Hearts and strikes a bargain with him – in return for him stopping the wedding, she promises him three kisses to be given at a time and place of his choice. But making deals with a Fate is always a dangerous game, as Evangeline finds out after her first promised kiss. The Prince of Hearts has his own plans in mind for her and Evangeline finds herself in the middle of an increasingly dangerous situation and must figure out what he is after and her role in it all to survive.
“The fates weren’t dangerous because they were evil; the fates were dangerous because they couldn’t tell the difference between evil and good.”
I’m usually a bit skeptical of spin off novels, but the minute I heard about this one, I knew I had to read it for two reasons. The world that Stephanie Garber created in Caraval was so amazing that three books simply weren’t enough, and it was a joy to return to it. And second, if there was one character I wanted to see more of after the first series, it would have been the Prince of Hearts, so there was no question of not reading a book that featured more of Jacks. The best part is that this new series can be read as a standalone, without needing to read Caraval before it even though it takes place after the events of Finale. Where Caraval was set in the Meridian Empire, Once Upon A Broken Heart expands on the world building, introducing us to The Magnificent North, a fascinating kingdom that I would love to visit. This story felt like a cross of a fairy tale, a murder mystery, and all kinds of drama and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing was beautiful and it was so easy to immerse myself in this story and characters and finish this book in a single sitting.
“Heroes don’t get happy endings. They give them to other people.”
Evangeline, though an exceedingly naive character at first, was likeable and her continuing optimism in believing that there is a happily ever after out there was endearing. Her arc in this book was wonderful and it made her journey an interesting one to follow. However, my favorite character was Jacks, partly carried over from Caraval, but also, I really hope he has a happy ending this time. He was more or less his delightful morally grey self that you can’t help but love, if a little more cruel, courtesy of what happened with Tella, and I can’t wait to see where his character goes in the sequel.
The one thing I found a bit strange was the inclusion of vampires in this story and the Fate Chaos being one. The entire world and story line has a very fairy tale and whimsical feel to it, so the paranormal aspect being added felt quite jarring, and I didn’t really see the need for that particular plot line. Still, I’m interested to see if this will be important going forward and especially if we’ll be meeting more of the Fates in the sequel.
The ending had a pretty major twist, but I had kind of predicted it much earlier. The best part about the climax was the turn Evangeline’s character seems to have finally taken and I’m so excited to see what she will be like in the sequel. The second book isn’t out until next September and I can’t wait to read it! Whether you are a fan of Caraval or not, this is sure to be an enjoyable read and I would highly recommend Once Upon A Broken Heart to all fans of retellings or fantasy novels.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: