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Reviewed by:
  • A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor

Kemmerer, Brigid A Heart So Fierce and Broken. Bloomsbury, 2020 [464p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-68119-511-7 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-68119-512-4 $13.29 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10

In this sequel to A Curse So Dark and Lonely (BCCB 12/18), the curse over Emberfall has been broken, but the political instability remains. Rumors allege that Prince Rhen's claim to the throne is illegitimate and that there is another heir, while the threat from invasion by nearby Syhl Shallow remains. Grey, Rhen's former guardsman, is on the run; he's the true heir, and he'll be executed if the prince finds him. Meanwhile, Lia Mara, daughter of the queen of Syhl Shallow, is doing her best to keep her mother's warmongering in check, hoping that she can convince the queen to work diplomatically with Emberfall. Circumstances throw Grey and Lia Mara together, and Grey begins to consider a dangerous alliance with Syhl Shallow. Kemmerer shifts to Grey's and Lia Mara's perspectives in this book, allowing readers to see new sides of familiar characters while still highlighting the themes of power and its ability to corrupt. Grey is believable as he continues to try to think the best of his former friend even when he knows the worst, and Lia Mara is compelling as a daughter torn between despising and yearning for the approval of her distant mother. Kemmerer smartly gives both characters room to breathe, and while there are certainly some sigh-worthy encounters, this is as much about Grey's and Lia Mara's shedding others' expectations of them as it is their blossoming relationship. The new viewpoints also expand the world, delving into a history of magic and a legacy of war that is still impacting both kingdoms. Political intrigue, swoony romance, and nuanced character development make for a breathless read, and a twist ending guarantees readers will line up for the next installment. [End Page 213]



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