A Heart so Fierce and Broken is the second book in the Cursebreakers series and follows A Curse so Dark and Lonely. This book started off a little slow for my liking, but it did pick up with the plotline, and I loved it. Unlike the last book, Harper and Rhen aren’t present for most of this one. The point of view is from Lia Mara, daughter of Karis Luran, and Grey, who we discover is heir to the throne of Emberfall.
This book starts a few months after the last book ended. Commander Grey is thought to be dead after having his final battle with Lilith, and Harper and Rhen believe he is either stuck on the other side (Washington, DC), or he is dead. Grey is actually in a town named Rillisk. He is working as a stable boy, along with a new friend named Tycho.
Grey has been fighting to keep his secret ever since Lilith told him that he is Rhen’s brother and the true heir of Emberfall. Not only is he fighting for his safety, but because it will ruin his friendship and Rhen’s rule over Emberfall.
Unfortunately, Grey comes face to face with a man he hired for the Royal Guard last season and is brought back to the castle with Tycho. While this is happening, Lia Mara, a Syhl Shallow princess travels to Rhen’s palace to negotiate for peace between the two countries, only to be taken hostage by Rhen. Lia Mara and Grey meet briefly due to their rooms being connected. She realizes the truth about him and who he is, even though Rhen does not know it himself. Rhen is prepared to do the worst to get the information out of Grey. He does not know of Grey being the heir, only that he knows who the heir is, and when he doesn’t give up the information, he tortures not only Grey but Tycho too.
Grey, Tycho, and Lia Mara were able to escape with the help of Harper and her brother, along with Noah. Lia Mara suggests that they travel to Syhl Shallow to seek sanctuary, and so they do. Along the way, the group encounters a scraver named Iisak, who helps Grey learn how to handle his magic.
Grey and Lia Mara begin to develop feelings for each other while they travel to Syhl Shallow. They both realize that they are on different sides, but they could be on the same team in the future. Eventually, the group reaches Syhl Shallow, and Grey and his group is treated with the respect due to the alliance that is to be formed. He is thrown into spending time with Nolla Verin, Lia Mara’s younger sister, heir to the throne of Syhl Shallow. Unfortunately, this sparks jealousy for Lia Mara, and though she knows it is for the good of her kingdom, she cannot help the feelings blossoming for Grey.
Grey and Karis Luran come to terms with an alliance, but she believes Grey must prove himself and his magic, so she sets up a trap, only to be defied by her daughter. After this, Grey and twenty others travel to the Ironrose castle, where Grey meets with his younger brother, Rhen, for the first time since the information was revealed. War is coming to Emberfall, and a mysterious enchantress may be back from the past.
To start, I was kind of disappointed about not having more Rhen and Harper moments. I feel like I was really invested in their story when the last book ended and this one was a complete change of pace from the love story that had been created. I was happy that Grey got a book, though, because he really did deserve one. From the beginning, he was my favorite character, and even though he was a side character to the love story, he becomes something way more significant. Along with that, his character development in this book is incredible. He goes from being a part of the Royal Guard, which taught him he was a weapon and not to let emotion cloud his judgment, but in this book, he fights with himself over which division is the best for his people and who he wishes to be. I think it was exciting to see him go from a character who didn’t have too much responsibility and only followed orders to someone who realized he had to take control and make decisions for his people’s good.
I was a bit hesitant to enjoy Lia Mara’s point of view because I had come to love our original characters so much. She really surprised me as a character and became someone exciting to read about. Her relationship with her sister was also very refreshing, especially because Syhl Shallow had been painted as a country of destruction from the previous book.
Along with all of this, there were some intriguing new side characters that I completely fell in love with. From the last book, Jake and Noah are still stuck in Emberfall, but they develop into more thorough characters. Jake becomes a more reliable person than he once was, and he seems as if he has adjusted to life in Emberfall. I also really like Noah, and his character never falters to be kind. He is continually using his skills as a doctor, which I really admire because he is practically the only person with expertise in the country. Tycho also accompanies them. Tycho is a boy with a mysterious past that we do not know too much about. I really hope that we learn more about him and his past, as well as his thoughts on the future war in the next book. Finally, a scraver joins the group names Iisak. He is probably the most compelling character and I think he will have a more significant role in the next book.
Unfortunately, Rhen kind of lost my trust in this book. It is shown that he has severe PTSD from the magic that Lilith used for the curse, and while that was a really interesting thing to find out, he also made some questionable decisions. While he might be protecting his country and Harper, he could have gotten answers a different way, and he ultimately turned into a character that I don’t know if I would follow anymore.
“Ah yes, the most dangerous person at the party is always the girl sitting alone with a book.”
Like the last book, Emberfall is the primary setting and most of the book takes place there. We see the Ironrose castle, which seems beautiful once again, but we also see a glympse of Syhl Shallow and the Crystal City. I have to say, it is a setting I really enjoyed. It seems like a beautiful place to grow up or visit and sounds magnificent. I hope that we see a lot more of it in books to come.
The writing in this book was definitely interesting. It did start a little slow for my liking, just because I needed to jump right into the story, but when the plotline picked up, I really enjoyed it.
I recommend this book to any fantasy/romance lovers. The next book is coming out in January of 2021, so that is an exciting novel to look forward to. You will definitely be on the edge of your seat for some of this book and it is very exciting and captivating to read.