Book Review

A Heart So Fierce and Broken

A Heart So Fierce and Broken

  • Author: Brigid Kemmerer
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: January 7, 2020
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
  • Series: Cursebreakers #2

CONTENT WARNING: murder, torture

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broke, 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 Princess Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Grey knows the heir’s true identity but has vowed to keep it a secret. On the run since he destroyed the evil enchantress 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 Cursebreaker saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

I absolutely loved A Curse So Dark and Lonely so much (see review here), that I waited way too long to read this. I always do that, like I’m worried that the second book isn’t going to be as good as the first. In this case, I had NOTHING to worry about. As much as I enjoyed book 1, this one blew it out of the water.

While Rhen, Harper, and Grey are the stars of the show in book 1, the POVs shift a bit in this book. We get a few Rhen and Harper chapters, but most are told through the eyes of Grey and Lia Mara, the daughter of Karis Luran. 

I was absolutely thrilled to see more Grey chapters, since he was really the star of the show for me. He’s tall, dark, handsome, and he’s got a really sweet side under all that strong, manly, protectiveness. Please excuse me while I swoon. I was so happy to see him get a little romance, and I was especially pleased to see it develop slowly over time rather than fall into the insta-love trap that so many books seem to fall into.

I was fully prepared to hate Lia Mara, but I couldn’t help but like her. Unlike her mother and sister, she’s compassionate and thinks things through in terms of how it will affect people. Not simply her people.

“I wonder how he would have reacted if Nolla Verin had approached him with thoughtfulness and respect instead of arrogance and disdain. If she had presumed to care for his people along with her own.”

Unfortunately, Rhen’s allure faded a lot during this book. It brought back the same kind of vibes I felt when reading A Court of  Mist and Fury, where Tamlin went from a hero who was initially misunderstood to a total jerk. I was so disappointed in who Rhen turned into in this book. I mean, I understood that he was under a lot of pressure, but it really didn’t give him any excuse to act the way that he did.

“Prince Rhen is a brilliant strategist and a consummate gentleman, but he can also be petty in the most creative of ways. The curse changed him — in truth, it changed us both — but it did not lessen his ability to be vindictive.”

Even the side characters were amazing. While Jake was fairly surly and not too likable in the last book, he really grew on me in this one. He’s loyal and turned out to be pretty funny, and changed so much through the course of this book. Tycho was a new character, and I just couldn’t help but want to hug him. He’s a teen with a serious case of hero worship towards Grey, and I can totally see where he’s coming from. 

The stakes are higher in this book. Rumors of an heir are spreading, creating a rift between the people of Emberfall. And what could possibly be worse than having the country be on the brink of civil war and having the legitimacy of the crown challenged? Oh yeah, the potential of war with Syhl Shallow! Because you know Karis Luran is always waiting in the wings to benefit her own country.

“It will lead to civil war, if his estimations are correct. All while Syhl Shallow waits in the shadows to strike against Emberfall. We could barely hold the country together while its people were united. With cities at war against the Crown, Karis Luran could swoop in and take everything.”

The story is fast paced and still has the capacity to hook me from the first page to the last. I was so wrapped up in the story, all of the characters, and wondering what would happen next. Just when I thought things were wrapped up nicely, Kemmerer threw a wrench into the works and hit me with a surprise cliffhanger that has me thanking my lucky stars that I waited so long to read this book. Why? Because A Vow So Bold and Deadly is being released later this month, so I’ll only have a few weeks to wait! I read an excerpt of it, and it only made me more excited to read the whole book.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 12

7 replies »

  1. Reading your description of Grey has me *squeeing* in excitement! Haha I still need to read this and even though it was one that I was highly anticipating in 2020 after seeing so many mixed and disappointed reviews I was so hesitant to pick it up. Seeing as we’re book twins I’m feeling a bit more comforted and I think I’ll try to pick it up ASAP 🙂 Great review, Leah!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read A Curse So Dark and Lonely a while back and I really need to get to this one. I’ve gotten really bad at keeping up with series. :/

    Also, you’ve mixed up the publisher and publication date at the top. I hope that’s helpful and not annoying!


    • Not annoying at all! I’ll fix that now. Thank you for the heads up. I read the first book quite a while ago, but read this one just in time to prepare for book 3’s release!


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