Brutal Curse

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Title: Brutal Curse
Author: Casey L. Bond
Genre: Fiction/ Romance/ YA/ Fantasy/ Fairytale Retelling
Source: Kindle Recommendation
Rating: 4/5

Favourite Quote: ‘“They will be specifically designed for the pair of you.”
“Then why bet on me? Or on us?”
“On you,” he clarified with a grin. “Only you. And, because there is a flame within your heart. I can feel it licking at me even now.”‘

Synopsis

Goodreads Synopsis:
Prince Carden of Tierney lost his home, family, and claim to the throne in one fell swoop when he rebelled against his father for a cause he knew was right. Instead of wallowing in despair, he embarks on a new journey, starting a new life on the Southern Isle. When he finds himself caught in a web woven by the famously ruthless fae queen, Coeur, he insults her and she vows to teach him the most difficult and heart-breaking lesson he will ever learn: that humans are incapable of love, and that hearts are beastly things.

Arabella wasn’t really living, she was existing and surviving as best she could. A chance encounter with Carden changes everything for her, but the deadly game he’s dragged her into might cost her life. Still, she agrees to play. The rules the fae queen gives them are vague, and it’s obvious there are things Queen Coeur isn’t telling them. She’s sure of it. But what she does know is that together, she and Carden must pass a series of tests and trials. If they fail, game over. But if they succeed, she just might be able to restore her family and carve out the life she’s always envisioned.

She smiled, her crimson lips widening. “I want you to know that during this game, I will make sure you know intimately what it feels like to be a beast.” 
There was a ruthless, calculating cruelty in her eyes. They say that a person with no soul has a hollowness about them; that even in the depths of their eyes, there’s nothing but emptiness. Queen Coeur was not empty. She was filled with a terrifying evil I had no comprehension of, and I’d unwittingly turned all her wicked ire upon myself with one sentence.
She began to chuckle. “You are going to be so fun to break.”‘

My Thoughts

Beauty and the Beast meets Alice in Wonderland?! Of course I didn’t hesitate to pick this one up! And I’m so glad I did! A fantastically well thought out retelling with a dark twist, it had all the right enchanting pieces of both fairytales thrown into a mix of magical fae that just worked.
Each character represented a fairytale one in a unique way from the fae Queen of Hearts ruling her own little kingdom with an obsession of colour, a runaway Prince she curses to become a Beast, our main protagonist who had a lovely balance of both Belle and Alice who followed the White Rabbit to the castle, as well as the Mad Hatter, the enchanted cursed servants in the castle, a version of Gaston that you couldn’t hate as well as our very own panther ‘Cheshire Cat’, also known as the dark and seductive fae Prince of Hearts.

The storyline was gruesomely thrilling, Arabella and Carden are both captured by the feared fae Queen Coeur to be partnered up and compete in her messed up mind games for all the kingdom to watch and enjoy. If they survive the five days together; they get to live, if they fail; they both die. Each trial tests them on their inner demons and guilty secrets, making them come to face the real reason they were both running away to start fresh from their own unbearable lives.

‘”What is that on your neck?” she asked, eyes transfixed on Arabella’s shard of glass.
“A remnant of my past,” Arabella answered elusively.
The Queen clucked her tongue. “The past is important, you know. Most humans prefer to forget it entirely. Why do you wear yours so boldly?”
“Because I want a different future.”‘

I really enjoyed the connections between the main characters, the tethers that bonded them together in one way or another, some being stronger than others creating a heartmate tether. Things became really interesting when the dark and brutal fae Prince Rule also shared a tether with our main protagonist creating an exciting love triangle. Of course we knew Carden was her heartmate from the start, but when his beast form started creating a wedge between them you didn’t know who was going to win Arabella’s heart in the end.

‘”Can you help her?”
“Of course, I can,” he answered. His enormous front paws stopped on a piece of pale tile. “The question is, will I help her?” 
“It’s why you came here, isn’t it? Why you helped yesterday… You want her to win.” 
The cat yawned, showing his incisors. “I want her to live.”
“Why?”
“Because life has become much more interesting with her in it,” he replied.
The panther stared quietly, not moving a muscle. There was only one person I knew who watched her so feverishly, and suddenly I realised who he was. “Rule?”
The panther bared its teeth at me and jumped into the mirror, the surface rippling like water in a still pond before settling and hardening.’

The author did a brilliant job at building the fantasy world that combined the dark mysterious castle hidden within an enchanted forest of sorts, protected by fae who did the bidding of the evil fae queen. The colourful castle itself was quirky and you definitely felt the Alice in Wonderland effect with each room and confusing corridor. I liked the little details in the story, like how each trial began by sending them down a dark hole to end up somewhere magically personally disturbing for the characters in order to drive them mad. The scenes themselves weren’t overly detailed, but they didn’t need to be, it just worked.

I did feel like a lot of the book felt rushed in areas, particularly during the trial games as well as the romantic connection between Arabella and Carden. You knew the queen wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty for the pettiest of reasons, so overall I felt the trials were really tame in comparison, you never felt any urgency in their situation and the fact that each game started at dawn and finish when the sun set, they felt unusually quick and uneventful at times and more like a trip down memory lane.
There was absolutely no romantic build up between Arabella and Carden which actually had me rooting for Rule since he was the mysterious anti-hero that kept intervening in order to help Arabella. Enough to make him go up against his own mother. The way he stared at her across the room, the way he took the appearance of Carden just for the chance to dance with her as well as his ability to save her from her own mind during the games was all so endearing, I couldn’t help but feel like their connection was so much stronger which made the ending slightly less impacting.  I think this is why I couldn’t bring myself to give the book 5 stars. I would still highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fairytale retellings!

 

My Rating

Small Kitty 4

 

Goodreads Review:
Brutal Curse is a fairy tale retelling where Alice in Wonderland meets Beauty and the Beast.
Prince Carden of Tierney lost his home, family, and claim to the throne in one fell swoop when he rebelled against his father for a cause he knew was right. Instead of wallowing in despair, he embarks on a new journey, starting a new life on the Southern Isle. When he finds himself caught in a web woven by the famously ruthless fae queen, Coeur, he insults her and she vows to teach him the most difficult and heart-breaking lesson he will ever learn: that humans are incapable of love, and that hearts are beastly things.
Arabella wasn’t really living, she was existing and surviving as best she could. A chance encounter with Carden changes everything for her, but the deadly game he’s dragged her into might cost her life. Still, she agrees to play. The rules the fae queen gives them are vague, and it’s obvious there are things Queen Coeur isn’t telling them. She’s sure of it. But what she does know is that together, she and Carden must pass a series of tests and trials. If they fail, game over. But if they succeed, she just might be able to restore her family and carve out the life she’s always envisioned.

Posted by

I moved to Japan with my husband and cat 2 years ago which has been one big adventure. The only downside (besides missing my family and dairymilk) is that I've moved to a country where English bookshops are limited, plus the idea of transporting so many books back home sounds dreadfully expensive. I've grown to love my Kindle which is why I'm fixated on ebooks. It connects nicely to my goodreads and netgalley account also which means I'm always adding more to my never ending list of books. I read fiction and love all things fantasy, YA, historical fiction and classics. Add a bit of mystery and I'll be hooked!

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