If you haven’t read the first book, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, this review may contain spoilers! (I thought I had posted a review on my blog, but apparently I only posted it on Goodreads. You can check out my review of the first book here.)
Title: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release date: January 7, 2020
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
Length: 450 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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.
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.”
Well, that was fun AND painful. 😩
I adored Grey in A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY so to have a book from his POV was icing on such a wonderful cake. While he’s still stoic, he’s less stiff, less of a robot as we see him wrestle with his loyalty to Emberfall (and subsequently Rhen) and his heart. Talk about a character with a deep, personal internal struggle! I really enjoyed all of his chapters and his interactions with those we aren’t familiar with. All the moments with Lia Mara, too, were stolen bits of happiness for both of them in a world that really pushed them aside, especially for Lia Mara.
Speaking of Lia Mara, I liked her quite well. Her warring emotions were on a different but still personal level than Grey. Though Lia Mara didn’t think much of herself, I liked how over the course of this book we see her show herself that she’s more than what she thinks she is—that she isn’t worthless or not worthy to be noticed just because she won’t be ruthless and vengeful like her mother, Karis Luran. Lia Mara’s relationship with her younger sister, Nolla Verin, is heartwarming too. We see the latter painted every bit as harsh as her mother, but I almost get the feeling that Nolla Verin simply wants to be a 16-year-old girl, not a queen like Karis Luran wants her to be.
I liked how the author brought in a deeper aspect of magic as well. We know of the enchantress, Lillith, from the first book but with Grey being who he is, we get a sense of *good* magic. I’m interested to see where the bit with Iisak, the scravner, will lead in the next book.
Despite all the good parts I enjoyed I am deeply frustrated with Rhen’s actions. Noah mentions it’s possible that Rhen may have PTSD due to everything that happened in book 1 and it was incredibly frustrating to watch how Rhen treats Grey and even young Tycho. I agree with Harper in that Rhen deserves to be punched in the face. I’m not saying Rhen’s actions are justified but when you get the end of the book, we see what is really driving Rhen to act the way he does. Granted we may get the idea he’s being ruled by his own fear, but I think it runs deeper than that.
Overall an enjoyable read. I thought I wouldn’t like it as much as I did but I’m glad that wasn’t the case. I’m definitely eager to see what will happen in the final book and hope there’s redemption for Rhen.