The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

Ballad of Never After book cover


Goodreads: The Ballad of Never After
Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart #2
Age Category: Young Adult
Source: Purchased
Publication Date: September 13, 2022

Official Summary

The fiercely-anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Once Upon a Broken Heart, starring Evangeline Fox and the Prince of Hearts on a new journey of magic, mystery, and heartbreak.

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. . . .

Star Divider


I wrote in my review of Once Upon a Broken Heart that Stephanie Garber had blown me away with a fairy tale world that felt fresh and new and, of course, rather dangerous and with a romance that had my eyes glued to the page. And there is so sequel slump here. The Ballad of Never After continues Evangeline’s story with immersive writing and a story I could hardly put down, and now I’m dying to read the third book.

After reading and being underwhelmed by Caraval, I never would have predicted I would have a Stephanie Garber obsession, but the Once Upon a Broken Heart series has managed to give me one. This is the kind of original world building I love. Garber gives little nods to well-known fairy tales, but the Magnificent North feels totally her own, like something I have never seen before but somewhere I’d certainly like to go and experience a bit of magic (danger notwithstanding). I love, too, that she has created Fates, beings who like Fae are not quite human and don’t function by our rules, yet which humans are drawn to.

I do think The Ballad of Never After seems more romance-focused than Once Upon a Time. Obviously there’s a plot, but at times it felt a little bit slowed by how many romance scenes there were. I am all for it though. Garber knows how to write a gut-punching line about how a love interest will break kingdoms for his love, and it was rather moving. My only reservation is that Evangeline was married in book one so . . . her romance with Jacks involves her committing adultery. The book doesn’t really deal with this besides her occasionally saying, “I’m married, you know!” as if that achieves anything or stops all the caressing. (And as a content note for anyone looking for book recs for younger readers, there’s no sex, but there’s certainly a lot of touching of Evangeline’s breasts.)

I want to know what happens next though! I do like, minus the adultery bit, that the romance between Jacks and Evangeline seems fairy tale doomed, and I want to see how they get out of it. Because I am going to believe they do get out of it! And the book sets up a wild cliffhanger for the plot of book three.

I will be avidly awaiting the next release and ready to throw my money at stores to purchase it.

5 stars

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