I am not someone who normally DNFs (did not finish) a book, but this one pushed my buttons.
I received a copy of How to Break an Evil Curse by Laura Morrison from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This was marketed as a high fantasy, which it is not, and I just could not get through it.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Princess Julianna may be cursed to dwell in darkness, but she’s no damsel in distress.
How to Break an Evil Curse is the first book in a fantasy series about a princess who may be cursed to live in darkness, but refuses to let her curse define her life.
The King of the Land of Fritillary has incurred the wrath of his ex-bestie, the evil wizard Farland Phelps. Farland curses the King’s firstborn to die if touched by sunlight, and just like that, Julianna must spend her life in the depths of a castle dungeon (emptied of prisoners and redecorated in the latest fashion, of course). A young woman of infinite resourcefulness, all she needs is a serving spoon, a loose rock in the wall, and eight years of digging, and Julianna is free to explore the city—just not while the sun is out!
Warren Kensington is a member of a seafaring traveling theater troupe and the unwitting magical cure to the curse. When the pirate ship he’s sailing on is damaged in stormy seas, he goes ashore and bumps into Julianna on the streets of the capitol. The pair accidentally set in motion a chain of events that uncovers Farland’s plans to take over the throne. Julianna, Warren, and some friends they meet along the way are the only ones who can save the monarchy.
But the farther they go along their increasingly ludicrous journey, and the more citizens they meet, the more Julianna wonders whether her dad’s throne is worth saving. From an evil and greedy wizard? Well, sure. But from the people of Fritillary who are trying to spark a revolution? The people suffering in poverty, malnutrition, and other forms of medieval-esque peasant hardship? It doesn’t take Julianna long to find that the real world is far more complicated than a black-and-white fairytale.
To start off, reading the description got me so excited for this book. I was interested in the plot, in the fairytale-esque storyline, among other things. But what I was not prepared for was the narrator.
Written like a satire (?), I think, this book has a narrator with a mind of their own as they tell the story of Julianna. Although we haven’t even met Julianna 10% into this book, which is where I stopped.
The first four chapters are all backstory on this curse and why Juliana must live her life in darkness. We have the stereotypical evil sister, the naïve/innocent sister, the dumb heroic prince, and the evil wizard. When I first started reading, we get the point of view of the evil sister first, who was banished for conspiracy to kill the king. The added commentary and over exaggeration of feelings and actions made this book read . . . not well.
I honestly couldn’t tell if it was satire or if it was mimicking a children’s movie. It was so over done and in your face that I couldn’t get myself to continue.
And I tried.
Eventually, I just stopped after chapter 4, about 10% into the book. I had a feeling I was going to continue to be irritated reading this kind of story and I don’t have the patience for that right now.
Plus, it was marketed as a high fantasy series, which it is not. It reads like a low fantasy, but it’s characterized as a fairytale/retelling. Either way, this is not what I was expected when I requested this book and unfortunately, I just wasn’t a fan of it.
This is a // 5 stars for me.
If you’re interested in actual retellings or other fairytale-esque books, check out The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly, or Stardust by Neil Gaiman.
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