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The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Booktalk: “Once Upon a Broken Heart”

Junior Gabriella Navarro reviews Stephanie Garbers popular Once Upon a Broken Heart. With its magical story and intriguing characters, this book as taken the crown of her new favorite fantasy book.
photo by Faith Walsh
Junior Gabriella Navarro reviews Stephanie Garber’s popular “Once Upon a Broken Heart.” With its magical story and intriguing characters, this book as taken the crown of her new favorite fantasy book.

Stephanie Garber’s books are like the stories my parents used to read to me before bed that would lead to the most adventurous dreams. “Once Upon a Broken Heart” is no different. As soon as I flipped open the first page, I was completely entranced, and ended up binging all 403 pages in less than three days. Even just writing this review makes me want to reread it again.

As a continuation of Garber’s “Caraval” trilogy, this book explores a part of this universe briefly mentioned in passing: The North. Enveloped in deep lore, curses and magical creatures, the North is a mesmerizing setting that embraces the fairytale feel of the story.  

With its magical and electric qualities, this book catches you from the get-go. It transports you into this dreamlike world filled with danger, charm and otherworldly characters. Magic is everywhere, and so is deception, meaning the character and the readers can never fully know who to trust or what will happen next. If you’re like me, you’ll be consistently gasping “what?”

Heroes don’t get happy endings. They give them to other people.

— Jacks, Once Upon a Broken Heart

Paired with this amazing story telling is a cast of interesting and multilayered characters, including Jacks, the mysterious Prince of Hearts, one of the most compelling characters I have ever met. He is villainous but heroic. You know he has ulterior motives yet they are never shown. You sympathize with him and want to trust him, even when it feels foolish. You pity his tragic backstory of unrequited love and curse of killing any girl he kisses, except for his one true love. It makes him seem almost human until you are reminded of the trickster fate that he is. Plus, his swooning appearance, confident demeanor and teasing remarks don’t hurt either. 

The protagonist Evangeline is, in most ways, opposite of Jacks, but the closer you look, the more you notice how similar they are to one another. Much like Jacks, she is flawed and prone to letting her desires influence her decisions. Both have made questionable choices as a result of a broken heart. However, it is clear that Evangeline is a good person at her core, while Jacks’ true nature remains on trial.

I believe there are far more possibilities than happily ever after or tragedy. Every story has the potential for infinite endings.

— Evangeline, Once Upon a Broken Heart

These intertwining threads create a fantastic dynamic between Jacks and Evangeline. They are drawn to each other, yet constantly fight against that attraction. This tug-of-war creates an amazing chemistry that makes sparks fly. 

Garber’s writing is what truly ties all these elements together and makes the book shine. She paced the story in a way that heightens the readers’ attention with suspense and mystery. However, if you do plan on reading this trilogy, I highly recommend reading the “Caraval” trilogy beforehand. Reading the original series will help you understand the backstories of each character. Plus, “Once Upon a Broken Heart” contains spoilers for the “Caraval” trilogy, so it is easier to enjoy all the books in order.

“Once Upon a Broken Heart” is a spellbinding story and an amazing start to an exciting series. If you enjoy magical stories and fantastical characters, then read a new favorite and one of the best fantasy books I have ever read.

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About the Contributor
Gabriella Navarro
Gabriella Navarro, Features Editor
Gabriella Navarro is a junior at Hagerty High School, and this is her first year on staff. She enjoys reading, hanging out with her friends, and listening to Taylor Swift.
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