The Story of Grey: ‘A Heart so Fierce & Broken’ Book Review

The curse is over, but Emberfall is still on the brink of failure, cities are uprising against the rumors of another heir, and Harper and Rhen are left alone – with no idea what has happened to Grey, their friend and loyal guard.

The first installment of the CURSEBREAKERS series was heart wrenching, beautiful and wonderfully written. Now, we explore Grey’s story – and the aftermath of his decisions – as he struggles to accept who is and what it means not only for Emberfall but for his relationship with everyone he vowed to protect.

“You trusted me once. What have I done to lose it?”

“You left.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format/Source: ARC/AUDIOBOOK

From GoodReads: Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

Plot: ★★★★ 1/2
World: ★★★★ 1/2
Writing: ★★★★★
Character Development: ★★★★★

the writing: ★★★★★

The writing and pacing itself was phenomenal. Kemmerer did not stray from her brilliant style and action packed pacing. Her writing is a mix of lyrical prose and hard hitting dialogue, making for a magical mix of a book. It’s a unique writing style that is easy to identify, even for those of us who have just discovered her work in the last year or so – as I have. The dialogue feels natural and, when appropriate, witty.

Kemmerer’s ability to bring the scene alive is stunning, invoking a feeling of comradery between myself and the characters that would otherwise lack. I truly feel like she is an expert in being able to keep a book engaging and properly paced. She keeps the book interesting while also allowing us to get to know the characters in much more depth than ASCDAL.

the plot: ★★★★1/2

Kemmerer once said during a signing that she aims to set it on fire, and then throw it over the cliff”. And I cannot tell you how accurate this is. The beautiful friendships solidified in ACSDAL are torn and tested, favorites are instantly dropped to hated, and everything you thought you knew is turned on its head. If you’ve read ACSDAL (and if you are reading this, you probably have) then you know from the end of the book that this book was going to explore Grey’s role in the curse, and in Emberfall. While most of us were expecting to be safe with Harper, it was not surprising for me to find myself thrust into a new world, and new characters.

I do feel like there are a few plot holes, which is why I gave this section a 4.5 instead of 5 stars, especially the last ‘shocking’ twist. Like, how? And why? It’s such an old trope that really annoys me. It’s literally the biggest flaw in this otherwise beautiful damn book. (But I will not pretend that I’m not EXTREMELY intrigued to see what happens in the finale.)

the characters: ★★★★★

As we know, this novel revolves around Grey. Our magically inclined, loyal af, gorgeous guard. If there was ever a book boyfriend for me, it would be Grey. AHSFAB has only increased my love for him. Grey’s struggle with who he is and why he must accept it is the over all arc of the story. His outward demeanor never changes, but the heart of Grey beats stronger and faster than it had before. Kemmerer really explored his journey from released and lost commander to sworn prince. His heart and mind torn with his vows to protect the royal crown, Rhen, and his knowledge that what his former friend was doing was cruel and wrong. It’s not exaggerating to say that I time, my heart broke for him and with him, and sobs ensued.

I was very skeptical of Lia Mara initially, but man – she was a fire cracker! She was very much the ‘Harper’ of this book, and I really feel like she’s going to be a huge player in the last book of the trilogy. Lia Mara switches between spineless and brave through out the book, and her inability to stand up to her mother is something that I could really relate to. As brave and courageous as we are sometimes, it’s devastating when you cannot pull that bravery forward in the face of someone who should love you – and that you love.

Lia Mara, though first born to Karis Luran, ends up being usurped by her sister Nolla Verin after her mother decides that the younger sister is more suited to the crown. While Lia Mara harbors jealousy and resentment for both her mother and her sister, she makes it known through both her actions and her words how much she truly loves her sister. It’s an interesting and entirely realistic perspective on sisterly love and the relationships with have with our families.

The amount of cuteness that is produced between Grey and Lia Mara well surpasses Rhen and Harper, if I do say so myself. I knew when she was introduced that she was end game, and they are the cutest end game around. I’m also a sucker for a heroine with red hair, so…#sorrynotsorry.

One of the most adorable and interesting characters to be introduced is Tycho. Tycho is a slave, for all intents and purpose, sold into servitude to a local business man. He also becomes extremely protective and loyal to Grey. I can honestly say that Tycho is my favorite character from this novel. His determination, loyalty, and pure innocence of heart keeps a breathe of fresh air in the otherwise dark and at times desperate story. I really hope that he has a prominent role in the next book!

Rhen – oh Rhen. I can’t even begin to explain my feelings on him without being all spoilery, so I apologize in advance. If you do not want any spoilers regarding our BEAST, please skip ahead. **Rhen has thoroughly destroyed my faith in him. His attitude towards his former guard, the realization that he did not TRULY care about anyone but himself, and the distrust that he breeds in his kingdom really caused a loss of respect for me. You can argue that he does all of this for his people, but in reality – he is acting out of fear for HIMSELF, not even fear for those he loves. Harper is just as deluded in her love for him – even when Grey was there – in arms reach. Instead, she stands beside Rhen as he tortures and hunts his friends. I really hope that he is redeemed in the final installment, but my breath is not being held.

And finally, my girl, Harper. We really don’t see much of her in the novel but I will say I’m a bit disappointed in her actions as well. She knows what’s right and wrong, and while she knows she cannot force Rhen to do things he does not want to do, I felt like we lost the head strong girl from ACSDAL. I really hope we see her once again in the closing novel.

….final thoughts…

At the core of this novel, I felt like we were exploring relationships and how they twist, bend, tear, and change. We watch as two people, who truly disliked each other, come together to fight side by side and form some semblance of a friendship – while we also watch as two people who were close for literally an eternity fall apart. The ever changing state of the relationships in this novel helped me examine the changing state of some of my own relationships, bringing understanding and insight to a part of myself I wasn’t sure I could open up to. While this book has mixed reviews, there is something about a book that helps you discover yourself that you truly cannot dismiss.


After breaking the curse, Rhen discovers another threat to his throne – an older brother hidden from the kingdom by his father. Without the support of his presumed dead friend and most loyal commander, Grey, he is lost and angry. However, Grey struggles with secrets of his own – a magic he doesn’t understand and a truth that could cleave Emberfall in half. With the help of a tenacious princess from a kingdom he doesn’t trust, Grey must decide which is more important, his vow to someone who has betrayed him more than once, or his chance to accept who he is and take a stand for his people, and himself. This sequel to A Curse so Dark and Lonely delivers magic, betrayal, love, and friendship wrapped up in a package that keeps you on your toes. The Book Dragon rates this 4.5/5 STARS!

About the Author:

Brigid Kemmerer is the New York Times bestselling author of dark and alluring Young Adult novels like A Curse So Dark and Lonely, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost (Bloomsbury), as well as paranormal YA stories like The Elemental Series and Thicker Than Water (Kensington). A full time writer, Brigid lives in the Baltimore area with her husband, her boys, her dog, and her cat. When she’s not writing or being a mommy, you can usually find her with her hands wrapped around a barbell.

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