Prince Rhen is under a curse: he is trapped, living the fall of his eighteenth year over and over until a girl falls in love with him. At the end of each season, if he’s unsuccessful, he turns into a monstrous creature that kills whoever is in its path. Determined not to put his subjects at risk, he sends his faithful commander, Grey, to another world to bring girls back.
Harper lives in Washington D.C. Her father is gone, her mother is dying, and her brother is working for criminals. When she sees a man trying to abduct a woman, she acts without hesitation and attacks. The next thing she knows, she in the land of Emberfall, in an enchanted castle that under siege by a monster. Resentful and angry, Harper refuses to be charmed or enchanted by Rhen or the castle. But, the longer she spends in Emberfall, the more she realizes that’s there’s more at stake than a boy under a simple curse.
I loved this book. Harper was so amazing. She’s strong and smart and impulsive. She cares about the safety and well-being of other people and is willing to risk her life to save complete strangers. She doesn’t let anything: her size, her gender, her disability, or her unfamiliarity with the land she’s in stop her. She does what she thinks is right, and, because of it, does more to right the wrongs in Emberfall with her actions rather than simply fall in love with the beast and break the spell.
I also really like Rhen. You could feel how tired he was of everything. He’s not arrogant or full of rage. He’s just an eighteen year old boy who’s exhausted of always failing. He’s a master strategist, always thinking ten steps ahead, but that’s not how you fall in love or get someone to fall in love with you. When he meets Harper, for the first time in years, he beings to feel something genuine and true once more.
I also have to talk about Grey, because he’s one of my favorite character types: the steadfast and true character, driven by loyalty to another. He’s deadly, he’s got a dry sense of humor, and there’s this amazing inner life to him that had be dying for more.
I liked that this was more than a simple love story. It’s not about how two people fall in love to break a curse. It’s about coming alive again, accepting your duties, finding your purpose, and discovering what it really means to live.