Featured Review: Once Upon a Broken Heart (Stephanie Garber)
About This Book:
Once Upon a Broken Heart marks the launch of a new series from beloved author Stephanie Garber about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after
For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in true love and happy endings…until she learns that the love of her life will marry another.
Desperate to stop the wedding and to heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.
But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game ― and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’d pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy...
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART is an unusual fairytale that begins with a bargain and winds through unexpected twists and turns. Told from the perspective of Evangeline, a young woman who grew up in her father's shops, particularly the Curiosity shop, and who has lived on the magical tales from the North. These tales are cursed so that they are never told the same way and may be filled with falsehoods. However, when her love, Luc, suddenly decides to marry her stepsister instead, Evangeline believes that he is been bewitched and decides to take matters into her own hands.
Despite knowing that all the stories say it will end terribly, Evangeline goes to a fate, the Prince of Hearts, to make a bargain. He agrees to stop the wedding between Luc and her stepsister in exchange for 3 kisses that she will give to people whom he chooses. As his own kiss is said to be fatal, Evangeline is willing to accept this bargain. However, the manner in which he stops the wedding is one that she does not agree with, and Evangeline replaces their curse with herself. As events spiral, Evangeline is left questioning everyone around her, their motives, and her own destiny.
What I loved: This was a book full of intriguing magics, and I loved the twists and turns it takes through this other world. I found the Fates particularly intriguing, as we meet a few along the way, and they each seemed quite compelling. Everyone's motives are up for questioning in this story. There are some intriguing themes around love/romance, desperate bargains, politics, and choice that can be thought-provoking, and we see these play out not only in Evangeline's story but also in those around her. Marisol, her stepsister, was a character that I found really intriguing, and I am curious to see if we'll learn more about her in the future. There is a lot of action in this story, with events moving relatively quickly, so this would work well for people who enjoy a quicker pace.
What left me wanting more: I would have loved more world-building, as much of it is left to the vagueness of the inaccuracy of stories, but it felt like some history would have built this up better, as well as allowed better understanding of some of the key characters. I also would have enjoyed seeing the story from other character's perspectives, as Evangeline is a bit of an unreliable narrator in that her mind is constantly changing and her noble actions frequently flip into the selfish and back at unusual points. It would have been helpful to get to know her better as well, so that her motivations and poor decisions could make some kind of twisted sense. There were some scenes where you certainly want to question what she thinks she is doing, and a deeper dive into her character may have helped to alleviate this.
Final verdict: A magical and fairytale-like journey, ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART is an intriguing YA fantasy read. I am certainly interested in seeing where this story will go and hope to take a deeper dive into the characters and this world in future books. Recommend for fans of THE QUEEN'S ASSASSIN, THE BETROTHED, THE EVIL QUEEN, and THE THIRTEENTH FAIRY.
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