Goodreads: A Heart So Fierce and Broken
Series: Cursebreakers #2
Source: Giveaway from Kelly from Another Book in the Wall
Published: January 7, 2020
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.
*Look for Krysta’s upcoming discussion post on why she didn’t like the ending of A Heart So Fierce and Broken!
When I reviewed the first book in the Cursebreakers series, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I called it “an enchanting, romantic tale perfect for fans of fairy tale retellings who want a slow-burn, swoonworthy romance combined with a more active, political take on ‘Beauty and the Beast,'” so of course I was thrilled to pick up A Heart So Fierce and Broken, which continues the story but with different characters’ POV’s. While A Heart So Fierce and Broken does feature some complex characterization and another lovely romance, however, it has the same flaws as A Curse So Dark and Lonely, possibly magnified: the politics make absolutely no sense, and many of the characters’ actions and motivations are unbelievable.
Although I was invested in Grey and the new friends he makes on his new journey, I spent the first half the book wondering if he were not possibly creating most of his problems for himself. I then spent the second half of the book wondering if his (and other characters’) assumptions about how to make an alliance were completely wrong and if there weren’t an obvious solution to one of the major problems that everyone was simply overlooking (for plot reasons, I assume, as the book never clarifies why this could not be a solution in these particular fantasy countries). This was frustrating, to say the least, and I honestly thought I was going to rate this book two stars at several points while I was reading it.
I was also frustrated with Rhen’s character, which seems to deviate wildly from book one. Brigid Kemmerer seems to have gone Sarah J. Maas on me, by which I mean: characters apparently do things because they cause drama and facilitate plot points, not necessarily because their actions and motivations fit in with their previous characterization. Kemmerer throws a little bit of explanation to readers, but mostly I felt as if I were reading about an entirely different character than the one I met in A Curse So Dark in Lonely. I also really wanted a chapter with Harper’s POV, to get her take on his changes and the situation in general, but of course this book isn’t actually about her.
So why did I ultimately end up giving the book three stars? A lot of the other characterizations are great, nuanced and compelling. Grey gets more fleshed out than he was in book one, and his new love interest has many facets, as well. I also like the general idea of the plot: the kingdom is not as stable as Rhen and his friends hoped after book one, two brothers might need to fight it out for the good of the kingdom, magic might need to be reassessed, etc. It’s overall very exciting and raises excellent questions, and I really did want to keep reading to find out what would happen next.
As for book three…I have no idea what my expectations should be. The final chapter of A Heart So Fierce and Broken changes a lot of the stakes, and not necessarily in a way I like. I have no idea how Kemmerer is going to resolve all this, particularly when her grasp on court intrigue, politics, etc. seems so lacking and nothing anyone does to save the kingdom ever seems to make sense. I only hope the individual stories of the characters will be enough for me in the next book, as well.