Also by this author: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1)
on January 7, 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: E-Book •Source: Overdrive
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.
***Warning, this book will include spoilers for the first book in the series, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and some spoilers for A Heart So Fierce and Broken. You’ve been warned!***
I enjoyed this book much more than it’s predecessor. It’s not that I disliked A Curse So Dark and Lonely, but I was ultimately underwhelmed and didn’t love the romance between Harper and Rhen. This book, however focuses on my (and many other’s) favorite characters of the series, Captain Grey who’s on the run and trying to hide his identity after the events of the previous novel. The other main POV character is surprisingly Lia Mara, one of the daughters of the Karis Luran who tried to overthrow Emberfall in the first book. These two unlikely narrators wove together a story that captured my emotions and my empathy much more than its predecessor.
First off, who doesn’t love Grey? He has the compassion and loyalty that Rhen quite frankly lacks, and he is always focused on doing anything he can to protect his friend and monarch (even fleeing his castle and position in the guard when he realizes that his existence is a threat to Rhen’s claim to the throne). He’s OK living a modest life of modest means and just keeping to himself, until Rhen sends his soldiers to scour the country looking for him, in typical spoiled, ungrateful Rhen fashion.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara is the oldest daughter of Karis Luran, however she is too compassionate and bookish to be her heir of Syl Shallow- that title is bestowed on her little sister. Yet instead of being intense rivals, Lia Mara and her sister are the closest of friends and admire the different traits and qualities that they each possess. Through Lia Mara’s character, we see a different side to the events that happened in Emberfall, and see Syl Shallow as a successful kingdom that loves and respects their queen.
Through a series of events (which I won’t go into too much detail about to avoid spoilers!) Grey and Lia Mara end up traveling together along with an unlikely band of heroes that ends up turning into a mini court of sorts: Tycho, a young stable boy who worked with Grey when he was undercover, Harper’s brother and his boyfriend who are sick of Rhen’s shenanigans, and Iisak (a magical creature from an entirely different kingdom). They became a sort of rag-tag group that learns to trust and depend on each other for survival, a common trope in YA fantasy but one that I nevertheless feel was executed well in this story. They all eventually end up backing Grey and his claim to the Emberfall throne, reluctant as he may be to take it.
I really enjoyed seeing both Grey and Lia Mara, two very humble, loyal people, both struggle with their royal destinies and come to grasp their power on their own terms and in their own time. Grey, who’s spent much of his life in service to Rhen, slowly starts to realize that Rhen’s desperation to keep control of his kingdom is leading him to make poor, violent choices and maybe, just maybe Grey could be a better leader (which IMO he obviously would, and we all know Rhen is not going to let Grey live since he is the rightful heir and Grey doesn’t want to die and who can blame him?) Lia Mara, on the other hand, is willing to support her mother’s wishes and expectations whole- heartedly, even giving up Grey to her sister despite her feelings for him, until her mother crosses the line of daring to hurt those she cares most about. Grey and Lia Mara are both deeply caring and principled leaders and I am so excited to see them claim their thrones in the next book.
I think one of things I most enjoyed about A Heart So Fierce and Broken is that it turned a LOT of what happened in A Curse So Dark and Lonely on its head. We come out of the first book thinking Rhen is the “hero” for defeating the curse finally with Harper’s help and if the protagonist can love him, it must mean he’s redeemable, right? Yet in this second installment, we come to slowly realize that Rhen may actually in fact be the villain of the series in some ways and perhaps he didn’t learn as much as we assumed at the end of book one from his time being cursed. A Heart So Fierce and Broken really challenges a lot of the takeaways from the typical YA fantasy genre and I really appreciated that during my reading experience!
Overall: A Heart So Fierce and Broken was a engaging and improved installment in the Cursebreakers series that offers new POV characters who are easy to root for. I’m really excited to see the direction the next book in the series takes!