The Ballad of Never After – Stephanie Garber

Title: The Ballad of Never After
Series: Once Upon A Broken Heart #2
: Stephanie Garber
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: September 13th, 2022 (Flatiron Books)

Synopsis: Not every love is meant to be.

After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.

But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.

Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can…


Following Jacks’ betrayal, Evangeline has vowed to never trust him again and turns her efforts to finding a cure for Apollo and waking him up. But when a deadly curse is cast on both her and Apollo, Eva has no choice but to ally with Jacks again. In return for her opening the Valory arch, he agrees to help her lift the curse, but it quickly becomes evident that they aren’t the only ones who want to open the arch – and there are also those who will go to any lengths to ensure they don’t succeed, leaving Evangeline to decide yet again who she can truly trust.

What I like best about this series is that despite it being a spin off from Caraval, it never actually feels like one. The world alone is so captivating, layered and rich in detail that it makes for a thoroughly immersive read right from page one as we return to Evangeline Fox’s story and The Magnificent North. The plot was an absolute roller coaster and there wasn’t a single dull moment – it was just one thing after another. But despite everything that was going on, it never lost the feeling of a fairytale. The narrative had its fair share of curses, magical enchantments, monsters and more that ensured this was a thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end.

Evangeline was a much less annoying figure this time around, now that she wasn’t so naive and trusting, but there was still a lot she didn’t know about pretty much everything that was going on

Jacks remains my favorite character though, and I loved that we got to see a little of his past. He is the villain you can’t help but like, and despite being such a contradictory figure, there’s something of a hero in him, especially when it comes to Evangeline, and their dynamic is a truly fascinating one. Where in book one there were times when I felt we didn’t get enough of Jacks, this book certainly made up for it and more, revealing more of his motivations, past and plans.

For the first book in some time, I had to give some thought to what I didn’t like and I couldn’t really come up with anything major. The beginning did feel a little clunky to me, mostly because it had been over a year since I read the first book so I’d forgotten a lot, and it did take some effort to keep all the curses the characters were under straight. There was quite a bit of history and lore introduced as well which was great, but the way it was done felt a little haphazard to me.

For some reason, I thought this was a duology and I didn’t even realize until the very end that the story wasn’t wrapping up after all. And to say that that ending was wild would be an understatement. I definitely did not see that twist coming and I’m kind of regretting picking up this book so quickly after release date because now I have to wait an entire year to know what happens next – I have so many questions!! I would say I enjoyed this book much more than Once Upon A Broken Heart – in fact, I would go so far as to say it’s even better than the Caraval trilogy. I would highly recommend The Ballad of Never After to both fans of Caraval and fantasy fans in general!

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:


2 thoughts on “The Ballad of Never After – Stephanie Garber

  1. I'm All Booked Up YA December 14, 2022 / 10:27 am

    Your review makes us want to read this series! We’re glad to see there has been character development since the first book.

    Liked by 1 person

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