A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken book reviewIn 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.

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
ISBN: 1408885085

Pages: 450
Publication Date: January 7th 2020
RRP: $16.99 AUD

Personal Rating:

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.

An ARC of this book was given to me by Bloomsbury AU in exchange of a review. All opinions are my own.

A Heart So Fierce and Broken was a trip… and not in a good way. I’ve never been so disappointed in a sequel the way I was with this novel. Book two essentially follows the point of view of Grey and a new character, Lia Mara, who is the princess is of Syhl Shallow and all she really had going for her was that she was a really soft female character (in a good way!) and Grey’s forced love interest. Throughout the book, Grey is acting like the surprised Pikachu meme every time his actions have consequences. The general plot of this book is that there is no real plot except Grey deciding if he wants to take everything away from Rhen or not.

This review is going to contain a lot of spoilers because I’ve never been so upset and disappointed by a book before.

The only two good things this novel had going for itself was a beautiful sister bond that should have been explored more instead of the joke of a romance plotline. The side characters who were practically none existent. Jake and Noah seemed like they were supposed to play a bigger role in the plot and yet they were JUST THERE. I guess the fantasy world is pretty cool too much it’s not as heavily explored as in A Curse So Dark and Lonely.

First thing was Rhen. His character was butchered and went through a complete 360, and since we only have a single chapter, we don’t really understand why we had this change. It felt that Brigid Kemmerer wanted to pull a Tamlin and decided to make Rhen the villain. It’s really upsetting cause it throws away all his character growth from book one of working so hard not to be a villain and be a good person. Becoming a villain was one of his fears, and he wanted to work against that, and yet here we are suddenly a villain. I don’t understand how a character who was willing to commit suicide to save his kingdom suddenly seems like the bad guy because he wants to protect that kingdom still. It is clear that Rhen suffers from PTSD, EVEN DR NOAH SAID IT. And yet Grey acts like the shocked Pikachu meme when Rhen was heartbroken from Grey’s betrayals and TERRIFIED to know that Grey had magic. HAVING A MENTAL ILLNESS SHOULD NOT BE THE REASON TO MAKE SOMEONE A VILLAIN.

Grey, the new heir to the throne and magesmith, was so boring to read. I honestly just started skimming his chapters because I couldn’t stand his personality. All he does is be wishy-washy, complain and then act surprised when his actions have consequences. He doesn’t understand why he lost Rhen’s loyalty throughout the whole novel when Rhen clearly told him that he stopped trusting Grey when he left (especially since he and Harper thought he might be dead). He had no chemistry with Lia Mara which was his love interest, from one page to the next he was like oh yeah I wanna kiss her. There was more chemistry in the two pages he had with Harper than the entire novel with Lia Mara. Also, he spent 70% of novel saying “I don’t want the throne” and then suddenly in a single page he has a change of heart and wants the throne because he’s “the rightful heir”. He’s such a disappointment.

Princess Harper of Disi, the disable badass from book one who would take no one’s shit and also OMG REPRESENTATION? Yeah her? None existent in this novel. There may be there for less than 10 pages and all she is there for is to “calm Rhen down” and apologize for everything. What happened to her? So upsetting.

Then we have Lia Mara, who was the reason I could keep reading through the novel. I enjoyed Lia Mara’s character, but I was also quite disappointed by her. Lia Mara is a soft strong female character, meaning that she a good example of strong women who don’t need to commit violence to stand up for themselves and get things done. She stands for peace and desperately wanted that peace between the two kingdoms. But she really didn’t have a purpose other than to advance Grey’s narrative and character arc. She could have so good like Harper, but she was reduced to serving the male character. Also, they also have a random chance of character when SHE KILLS HER MOM. (Why is everyone suddenly good at throwing knives?) What’s upsetting is that she showed no remorse for killing her mother. That whole scene was more of an eye roll than a shock. It would have been more powerful if her sister protected Lia Mara from their mother (get hurt) and that cause a reaction for Lia Mara to act. It would have also given her sister such a good arc from believing violence and cruelty is the way to go like mommy dearest taught us to peace and taking care of one another is more important.

The only character of colour, Noah, was sidelined. I thought he and Jake were going to play a bigger role, but instead, they were there to tell Grey that he should be king instead of Rhen. There were some other new characters who were fascinating but are not even worth mentioning because they were sidelined for Grey’s great dilemma of “I don’t want to be the heir, but everyone is telling me to be the heir.”

Second book syndrome is a real thing, and I often acknowledge this when I read sequels because second books set the scene for the big finale. But this second book suffered from then book two syndromes, it burnt to the grown everything built and set up in book one. Book one was such a good retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I honestly don’t understand what happened with book two. Everything could have been solved if Grey didn’t have a selfish stick up his put and the boys actually communicated. Harper and Jake were even like “why didn’t you just talk to each other?” And the final “plot twist”? It was a cop-out way to force the story to continue.

Will I read the third and final book? Probably, I have a bit of faith that Kemmerer might redeem herself because she is actually a fantastic storyteller when it comes to world-building and pacing. I also want to know what happens to Rhen and see if he is forced to be a villain or given a break he deserved.

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