Title: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2)
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Readership: Young Adult
I received a copy of A Heart So Fierce and Broken from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Potential spoilers ahead for the second book in the series.
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.
In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken is one of my most anticipated 2020 releases and I was so excited and thrilled to receive a copy for review. I enjoyed A Curse So Dark and Lonely a lot last year, and fell in love with Brigid Kemmerer’s writing, so to say that A Heart So Fierce and Broken had a lot to live up to is not an understatement.
I can, thankfully, report, that it did not disappoint, and – in fact – is now my favourite of the two books in the Cursebreakers series.
After the events of A Heart So Dark and Lonely, Prince Rhen and Harper are dealing with a kingdom that is not so sure what to believe anymore, and rumours of a lost heir to the throne are running rampant. Meanwhile, Grey, formally Rhen’s guardsman, is nowhere to be found, and in possession of the question that haunts his former friend and master the most. Grey’s path crosses with that of Lia Mara, the eldest daughter of Karis Luran, an enemy of Emberfall, and the two set about trying to bring change even if it means doing things they never thought they would.
I really loved story.
I will admit, though, that I was concerned with the first quarter of the book – it felt a lot slower, like we were going through another set-up (and in a way we were, since we’ve shifted characters perspectives) – but once we were past that, it was such a quick, fun and compelling read that I forgot all about that slow beginning.
Grey and Lia Mara were both fantastic lead protagonist characters – each dealing with their own issues and both of them fundamentally trying to do the right thing by their respective peoples. Grey is conflicted and trying to stop Rhen from having to make a decision he might live to regret and avoiding the reality of his situation because he doesn’t want conflict. By contrast, Lia Mara is a strong young woman whose strengths are virtually invisible to her family because they don’t align with the skills deemed valuable by the crown. It was really interesting to read the scenes with both Grey and Lia Mara because they learn a lot from each other, from the strengths and weaknesses the other possesses. Plus, their budding romance didn’t hurt either.
But the main characters are not the only reason to like this book – the supporting cast is equally impressive, from young teen, Tycho, who befriends and earns the trust of Grey and is utterly adorable. Iisek, a scraver, who finds his path linked with Grey and his companions is part mysterious mentor, part muscle. And then there’s Jake and Noah, who we met in the first book and are just fabulous. I loved all of them and would happily have spent time in their POV as well.
There were two aspects of the story I really liked:
The first was the question that underpins the story: if Grey had made a different decision, and told the truth from the start, would it have made any difference to the eventual events of this book? As the reader, we can only speculate (although given everything that’s happened, I’m willing to bet not, but it’s not a given). But I liked that characters kept coming back to it and helping Grey work through it.
Secondly, I loved how Grey always chose to let Lia Mara save herself rather than jumping in to save her (even when he really wanted to). He recognised her own strengths and pushed her to see her worth and respected her capabilities. It sounds almost trite to write that out because of course a young woman is capable of saving herself and doesn’t need anyone to let her do that, but it seems like, more often than not, in YA fantasy, the heroine needs to be ‘saved’ – Grey helps in A Heart So Fierce and Broken, but not at the expense of Lia Mara being in charge of her own path. I can get behind that kind of relationship dynamic.
What else can I say? This was just fun and it was nice to read a YA book that had me turning the pages.