Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast in which a young woman is transported to a fantasy kingdom and must break a curse to save the prince and his kingdom.


"A Curse So Dark and Lonely" by Brigid Kemmerer is a captivating fantasy novel that blends the modern world with a fairy tale kingdom. The story follows the protagonist, Harper, as she is transported from Washington D.C. to Emberfall, a kingdom under a curse. With a unique twist on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale, Kemmerer weaves a narrative filled with romance, adventure, and the exploration of inner strength.

Brief Synopsis

The novel is set in both modern-day Washington D.C. and the fantastical kingdom of Emberfall. Harper, a young woman with cerebral palsy, is suddenly thrust into the world of Emberfall when she tries to stop a kidnapping. In Emberfall, she discovers that the kingdom and its prince, Rhen, are under a curse that forces Rhen to relive the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over again, transforming him into a monstrous creature at the end of each season. Harper becomes involved in the struggle to break the curse and save the kingdom.

Main Characters

HarperA determined and resilient young woman from Washington D.C., with cerebral palsy.
RhenThe Prince of Emberfall, cursed to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year.
GreyRhen's loyal commander, tasked with protecting Rhen and the kingdom.

Plot Overview

Chapters 1-5

Harper is introduced as she intervenes in a kidnapping attempt in Washington D.C. She is then transported to the kingdom of Emberfall, where she meets Rhen and Grey. Harper learns about the curse afflicting Rhen and the kingdom and is determined to find a way to break it.

Chapters 6-10

Harper explores the castle and begins to understand the intricacies of the curse. She also learns about the political situation in Emberfall and the impending threat from a rival kingdom. As she spends more time with Rhen and Grey, she starts to develop a deeper connection with both of them.

Chapters 11-15

Harper and Rhen embark on a journey outside the castle to garner support for the kingdom. During their travels, they encounter various challenges and form a bond that transcends the initial animosity between them. Harper's resilience and determination begin to make an impact on Rhen and the people of Emberfall.

Chapters 16-20

The relationship between Harper and Rhen deepens as they face external threats and internal struggles. Harper's presence in Emberfall starts to shift the dynamics within the kingdom, and she becomes more entrenched in the efforts to break the curse. The stakes are raised as the rival kingdom's forces draw closer to Emberfall.

Chapters 21-25

As tensions escalate, Harper and Rhen confront the impending conflict while also delving into the complexities of their feelings for each other. The true nature of the curse and its potential solution become clearer, but the obstacles to breaking it appear insurmountable. Harper's courage and resourcefulness are put to the test as the kingdom hurtles toward a decisive confrontation.

Main Events

  1. Harper's arrival in Emberfall and her initial encounters with Rhen and Grey.
  2. The exploration of the curse and the challenges it presents for Rhen and the kingdom.
  3. Harper and Rhen's journey to seek support for Emberfall, leading to personal and political revelations.
  4. The deepening of Harper and Rhen's relationship amidst growing external threats.
  5. The escalating tensions and the impending confrontation with the rival kingdom.

Themes and Insights


  1. Resilience and Determination: Harper's character exemplifies the strength to overcome physical limitations and face adversity head-on.
  2. Love and Sacrifice: The evolving relationship between Harper and Rhen explores the complexities of love and the sacrifices it may demand.
  3. Identity and Redemption: Rhen's struggle with the curse and his transformation raises questions about identity and the potential for redemption.


The novel delves into the intricacies of personal growth, the impact of one's actions on others, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. It also offers a fresh perspective on classic fairy tale tropes, emphasizing the agency and strength of its female lead.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Curse So Dark and Lonely" offers a compelling blend of fantasy, romance, and adventure, with a focus on complex characters and their emotional journeys. Readers will find themselves immersed in a richly imagined world while being drawn to the relatable struggles and triumphs of the protagonists. The novel's exploration of resilience, love, and identity resonates deeply, leaving a lasting impression on its audience.


Brigid Kemmerer's "A Curse So Dark and Lonely" presents a modern reimagining of a beloved fairy tale, infusing it with depth, emotion, and a touch of magic. Through its engaging plot, well-crafted characters, and thematic richness, the novel offers a captivating reading experience that will linger in the hearts and minds of its audience long after the final page.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely FAQ

  1. What is 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely' about?

    A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a fantasy novel about a young girl named Harper who is transported from modern-day Washington, D.C. to the magical kingdom of Emberfall. There, she becomes involved in a quest to break the curse that has plagued the kingdom's prince, Rhen.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely'?

    The author of 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely' is Brigid Kemmerer, known for her young adult fantasy and contemporary romance novels.

  3. Is 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely' part of a series?

    Yes, 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely' is the first book in the Cursebreakers series, followed by 'A Heart So Fierce and Broken' and 'A Vow So Bold and Deadly'.

  4. What genre does 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely' belong to?

    'A Curse So Dark and Lonely' belongs to the young adult fantasy genre, with elements of romance and adventure.

  5. Is there magic in 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely'?

    Yes, magic plays a significant role in the world of 'A Curse So Dark and Lonely', with characters possessing various magical abilities and the kingdom of Emberfall being steeped in enchantment.