Booktalk: “A Curse So Dark and Lonely”


photo by Ailinh Vu

Junior Gabriella Navarro shares her opinions on “What Happens After Midnight” by K. L. Walther. Released on June 27th, this book filled her with joy from its romance and banter.

Inspired by the story of Beauty and the Beast, “A Curse So Dark and Lonely” is the story of Prince Rhen and Harper, a young girl from the modern world struggling to navigate the world with cerebral palsy. After trying to help someone on the streets of D.C., Harper is taken into the world of Emberfall by Prince Rhen’s guard, Grey, and faced with the hope that she will be the one to break the curse put on Prince Rhen and keep him from turning into a vicious beast. 

Madi: I read this book at the height of COVID when boredom was my default setting. It was exactly what I needed and was an easy favorite. One thing that really made me enjoy this book was the easy writing that had the ability to transport me into the world of Emberfall. I loved the pacing of the book and how quickly I could fly through it. From the very beginning the story is full of intrigue, action and loveable characters. Harper was a great main character to read about, and I really enjoyed how the author conveyed her fear and mistrust when she was abducted. So often characters will be portrayed as strong and fearless which also turns into lack of questioning what happened to them. The fear that Harper felt seemed real. 

Stefany: After being recommended to read this book, I finally gave in. Surprisingly, it was nothing like any other young adult fantasy novel that I had read before. For me, the beginning was slow and left me with a lot of questions that weren’t really answered. For example, the time period of this book was never really mentioned and the description of the setting was often vague which left me to picture the world of Emberfall myself. I pictured a whimsical magical setting when in reality it was dreary and mysterious which reflected the curse’s impact on the kingdom. Depending on your taste in books, that can be good or bad, but as I made my way through the book, it really made it an immersive story. It’s without a doubt that the world Harper is thrown into is truly captivating. I also agree that the author creates a very realistic scenario when Harper was kidnapped, which helps set the overall mood for the story. 

Madi: I see where you’re coming from. It was kind of an undeveloped time period, and the switch between modern D.C. to the kingdom of Emberfall was a large change that was not explained as well as it could’ve been. However, I really liked the magic system in this book. I felt like it was simple but still gave off a very magical and exciting feeling, like you said. The fairytale-inspired writing solidified that. Brigid Kemmerer, the author, did a very good job with describing the dark consequences of the curse and how Rhen has been affected by it. Although it is very similar to Beauty and the Beast, I really enjoyed the unique reason behind Prince Rhen’s curse and how the sorceress, the antagonist, played into it. Her appearances throughout the book drew me in and kept me questioning how she was going to be stopped. 

Stefany: Although I had some issues with the book’s story development at first, I can say that it was a really entertaining read. One of my favorite aspects of this book is how the author portrays Harper. Despite her disability, she is strong and independent. I like how the author contrasts how people in the real world see her vs. in Emberfall. In the real world, she is seen as weak but when she is in Emberfall, her disability is embraced as something that makes her stronger. Not only is this inspiring, but it just makes you want to keep turning each page to know what is going to happen next. This book is filled with fast-paced adventure and magic and is a great read for anyone looking to dive into the world of fantasy.