Tagged: Epic Fantasy

A Curse so Dark and Lonely

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

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TRB reviews Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse so Dark and Lonely

About the Book

A Curse so Dark and Lonely; Brigid Kemmerer
Young Adult; Fantasy; 507 Pages

Bloomsbury YA; 1 edition (January 29, 2019)

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

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.

Jenn’s Review

Beauty and the Beast gets a modern makeover in Brigit Kemmerer’s A Curse so Dark and Lonely.

Harper’s life is definitely not rosy in modern New York – her father ran away, lung cancer is slowly killing her mother, and her brother is trying to placate the mobsters their father ran afoul of, by harassing other unfortunate folks that owe these evil men money. And because life is so fair, Harper is doing her best to live a full life despite her Cerebral Palsey.

TRB Pin A Curse So Dark Review
TRB reviews Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse so Dark and Lonely

While playing lookout for her brother, she witnesses a man who appears to be abducting a woman. When she attacks, hoping to prevent the stranger’s kidnapping, she ends up falling into the kidnapper’s realm, on a plane of reality far different from her own.

It is here that she meets Rhen, the cursed crown prince who, of course, needs her to fall in love with him to break the curse before the season ends and the Beast he is cursed to become is unleashed on another bloody killing spree.

As such things go, Harper tells him in the blandest of terms that she won’t fall in love with him, and of course, she tries to run away; and from there the story becomes less and less predictable. Harper and Rhen devise a plan to save his kingdom, and together, they manage to rally his subjects to defeat the invading forces from the north.

The world-building in this story is beautifully crafted and consistent. Characters are sympathetic and realistic, and plot twists are carefully woven throughout. The hero is strong, and while he’s a bit of a jerk at the beginning of the story, his character arc offers redemption. Harper is also flawed, but she is strong and determined, her physical challenges are more of a driver to prove her abilities than an excuse to be the wilting princess.

Well-told and well-written. Two enthusiastic thumbs up for this YA romance.

Sam’s Review

Sam’s Teen Reads Corner reviews Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse so Dark and Lonely

One of my favorite fairy tales turns dark as Harper, a fierce girl with Cerebral Palsy, is used to being treated like glass. Her mother has been fighting cancer and has three months to live. Her brother deals with a gang to hold them all together.

Rehn is the crown Prince of Emberfall. Every Autumn he turns into a beast and kills his people with no memory. When he changes back, he turns eighteen again. And again. The evil sorceress Lilith taunts him and his last guard, Grey. As war looms on the horizon, he must find love to break the curse.

Harper isn’t easy to woo. She isn’t a delicate flower. Rehn has a dark past. He is afraid to hurt her. Can they find love and break the curse before time runs out for both of them?

I love the disabled heroine, and how she has a bite to her. The story was written with a sense of reality and it wasn’t a sappy fast burn smacking lips kind of read. It was an earning of trust and defending each other kind of read.

I didn’t like how it was a little confusing in places, but other than that, it was wonderful and possibly the best adaptation of Beauty and the Beast I have ever read. The ending was well tied together and left me hungry for more

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Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle, audiobook, hardback and paperback editions here.

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Donna Migliaccio – Author Interview April, 2020

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

When we launched Thrice Read Books’ review blog, our inaugural post was for Donna Migliaccio’s Fiskur (book 2 in the Gemeta Stone Series). Since so much has happened, and Donna has released three more books in the series, we snagged an opportunity to sit down with her to talk about the Gemeta Stone series in general, her most recent release, and what’s next for this epic fantasy author.

Jenn: Shall we talk books? Specifically, yours… It’s been a year or so since we last sat down and talked. I think Ragis was just coming out.

Donna: Ragis came out in September 2018. A lot has changed in the interim, with Fiery Seas going out of business and me having to learn the self-publishing biz.

Jenn: Tell us a little about yourself?

Donna: Sure. I’m a professional stage actress based out of the Washington, DC area and have published five books in my epic fantasy series, The Gemeta Stone.

I’ve also published a couple of short stories as well.

Jenn: How did I miss the short stories?

Donna: They didn’t get a wide distribution LOL.

Jenn: Aww.

Donna: One was a more literary work called Yaa & The Coffins, published in the now-defunct Thinkerbeat Journal; the other, Fire Bird, was published in Wild Musette a couple of years ago.

I don’t write short-form very often.

Jenn: I can imagine writing short form is challenging, especially when you write epic fantasy.

Donna: What’s funny is that when I write short stories, they tend to be under 3k words.

On the shorter side of “short.”

Jenn: You have my admiration! That’s amazing. 

Jenn: Have you always wanted to write or publish your writing?

Donna: Well, I’ve always written. Even when I was small, my brother and I used to write illustrated stories together. We’d open one of those black and white composition books and lay on the floor facing each other, each one drawing and writing on their own page. We were usually writing the same characters and roughly the same plot, just with our own twists. We’d spend hours doing that. Unfortunately all those “picture books” are gone now.

Jenn: Oh, no. What a loss.

Donna: When you’re an Army brat, you get used to it.

Jenn: Ahh the bliss of the PCS move.

Donna: My dad was ruthless about getting rid of stuff when we had to move.

Jenn: So how did you go from composition books to publishing Gemeta Stone?

Donna: I first wrote the Kristan Gemeta character as part of a high school composition assignment. We had to write the beginning of a novel, and I’d had a dream about a young man on a horse meeting with a young woman on a road beside a forest. So that’s what I wrote.

It was nothing more than a sketch, but I’d actually dreamed the name Kristan Gemeta.

I never did anything with it until years later, when I was out of college and living alone for the first time.

I’d already written and trunked another novel (a truly awful contemporary romance about a blind prince – fortunately it, too, no longer exists), but there was something interesting about the Kristan character that made me want to resurrect him.

Jenn: Who are the major influencers in your life and philosophy?

Donna: Family for certain. I come from a large family (six siblings!) and my mother and father are/were very dynamic people. Dad passed back in 2000; Mom just celebrated her 99th birthday.

Jenn: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Donna: All my siblings are “artsy” – we all sang or played an instrument or danced or drew or wrote growing up.

My parents encouraged that. We had to learn to amuse ourselves on long road trips.

So being imaginative was a survival skill.

Jenn: I think that’s awesome. So many kids now don’t have that support towards the arts.

Donna: Ain’t that the truth. Or if they do, it’s rarely arts for art’s sake. It’s more “how can I turn this into a side hustle and make some money?”

If you can’t find the joy in art first, it’s going to get real old real fast.

Jenn: It takes patience, perseverance, and a deep love for the craft to get good at any form of art. You’re absolutely right. If you can enjoy it, you won’t stick with it.

What advice would you give young artists – dancers, singers, writers, painters – from your perspective of having dedicated most of your life to the creative arts?

Donna: There’s a mindset with young people these days that they have to “win” at the creative game quickly. They might put in a couple of months’ work and get frustrated that they’re not experts at the end of that time. I wonder if that mindset comes out of playing video games – you put in thirty hours playing a game and you generally end up fairly proficient at it. But the creative process isn’t like that. It can take years to develop the skill set you need to write a book, or play an instrument, or act in a play.

Jenn: Very true. I think that falls into the “10,000 Hours” philosophy… that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to master any skill.

Donna: My advice to writers would be to READ. Read all the time. Read widely and analytically. I’m constantly stunned by the number of young people I’ve encountered who’ve decided they want to write a book – but they don’t read. They watch a lot of movies and TV, but they don’t read. And writing a novel is a completely different skill set.

Jenn: I’ve run into that quite a bit, myself.

Jenn: What other books or authors have influenced your writing, and specifically, the Gemeta Stone series?

Donna: T.H. White’s The Once and Future King had a huge impact on me. I believe I first read it because I was a fan of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. But they’re nothing alike (in fact, I can’t bear the cartoon now – it seems coarse and thudding). The Once and Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, but there’s such grace and whimsy and melancholy all mingled together. I was entranced by the idea of this good-hearted child who must learn to be a king.

Jenn: Having read Gemeta Stone, I can definitely see the influence there.

Jenn: If you had to explain this series in one sentence, what would you say?

Donna: Oh dear.

With the aid of a magical talisman, a gentle young king struggles to free his country from the grip of a powerful magician.

Or something like that.

LOL 

I always struggle trying to reduce a six-book series to a single sentence.

Jenn: I can empathize with the struggle…

Jenn: For our readers that are unfamiliar with the series, can you give us a quick book-by-book elevator pitch? (I promise I am not trying to break our featured author.)

Donna: 

Book 1 – Kinglet

Robbed of his throne, his crown, and even his name, gentle and introspective Kristan Gemeta must learn to lead before he can recover his family’s ancient talisman and take a stand against the Wichelord Daazna.

Book 2 – Fiskur

With the assistance of a band of rebels, a shipful of brigands, and the legendary Kentavron, Kristan defeats Daazna and his minions – but at a terrible price.

Book 3 – Stoneking

Kristan struggles to unite four disparate kingdoms and understand the true nature of the Gemeta Stone while battling the fear that he is losing his sanity along with those he loves.

Book 4 – Ragis

Kristan Gemeta teeters on the brink of madness while forced into a dangerous winter journey that will end in a confrontation he dreads.

Prequel – Princeling

The child Kristan Gemeta tries to find a place in his father’s battle-hardened court, while the youth Daazna faces his own struggles as he learns ancient Wiche skills.

GAH – why is that kind of thing so HARD??

Pin for Donna Miggliacio Interview April 2020
Jenn sits down with epic fantasy author, Donna Migliaccio

Jenn: Because you told the story with many hundreds of words, and your brain is trying to take the whole thing into account?

Donna: Maybe.

Tedious.

Jenn: In our last interview, we mentioned this series is appropriate for readers 16 and over, because of some sexual content and graphic violence. Now that the prequel is out, would you consider these standalone novels, or would you recommend that readers start in a particular place?

Donna: I feel that Princeling could be read at any point in the series, but where I think it’s most valuable is between Ragis and the yet-to-be-published final book in the series.

It answers a lot of questions set up in the first four books and gives some clues about what might happen in the final book.

Jenn: It does.

So Kinglet would be the recommended starting point?

Donna: I think that’s most useful – Kinglet, Fiskur, Stoneking, Ragis, Princeling, and then the last book.

Once I finish that LOL.

Jenn: What are some of the major ideas that you integrate into this book or your life in general?

Donna: That kindness is an essential component of life.

Even if showing kindness is viewed as a weakness rather than strength.

Kindness is at the core of Kristan’s existence, and trying to find a balance between that strong moral compass and the demands of his rule is a constant source of tension.

Particularly when he’s pitted against an adversary who is completely without compassion.

Jenn: And Daazna is definitely that.

Donna: Daazna is definitely a Big Bad, but one of the things I wanted to tackle in Princeling was how he got that way.

Jenn: Because people don’t just wake up one day and decide to be that level of evil.

Donna: What was surprising as I wrote the book was discovering that he and Kristan faced many of the same obstacles:  loss of a parent, not being accepted in their society, etc.

Jenn: You mentioned that elusive last book… what’s next for Kristan and his intrepid writer?

Donna: I do have a single line description of the final book LOL.

Jenn: Hehe… Let’s hear it!

(and hopefully, it doesn’t give anything away!)

Donna: After twenty years of peace, Kristan must face his old enemy in a new form.

So….we’re talking a major passage of time between the end of RAGIS and the beginning of the new book.

Jenn: Oh, my!

Donna: Which means I not only have to pick up all the various plot threads from the earlier books, but also introduce a boatload of new characters.

Jenn: Fantasy casts can get… enormous. Am I right?

Donna: They can indeed.

Jenn: So how can readers follow you and find out when the exciting conclusion is available? (Also, follow for the Daily Fox, and other great Donna excitement!)

Donna: I have a newsletter:  Fantasy, Fancies & the Occasional Fox. It comes out about every other month and includes my writing and theatre news, plus stories about my local fox population, birding, gardening, recipes, and other things that interest me. (It also has a Hidden Treasures link that will take you to a secret page on my website where I’ll occasionally post short stories and other writing.)

Or, readers can visit my website at donnamigliaccio.com

You can sign up for the newsletter on the website.

I can be followed on Twitter (@donnamig) and Instagram (mrsmig1).

Jenn: Sounds good.

It has been a pleasure, once again, to sit down and “talk” with you, Donna. Thank you so much for your time, and for giving us such fantastic stories as Kristan’s.

Buy the Gemeta Stone Books: (available as both Kindle and Paperback)

We’ve interviewed Donna before. You can find that post here.

Princeling – Review

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

TRB Twit Princeling Reveiw
Jenn reviews Donna Migliaccio’s Princeling

About the Book

Princeling; Donna Migliaccio
Young Adult; Fantasy; 237 Pages

Donna Migliaccio (November 29, 2019)

DISCOVER HOW THE GEMETA STONE SAGA BEGAN.Little Kristan Gemeta never imagined that his simple act of kindness would end in disgrace. Now he’s being punished by a harsh regimen meant to toughen him into the heir his father the king demands. Bullied and friendless, Kristan finds an ally in Simeon, who teaches him not just letters and numbers, but the forbidden magical lore of Wiche. But there’s someone else in the kingdom who wants the secret Wiche knowledge for himself. The youth known as Daazna is as pitiless as Kristan is compassionate – and will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

About the Author

Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres. KINGLET, FISKUR, STONEKING and RAGIS, the first four books in her fantasy series THE GEMETA STONE, are available exclusively on Amazon, along with her recently released prequel to the series, PRINCELING. Her short work is featured in the anthologies MEDUSA AT THE MORGUE and THE ART OF LOSING. For more information, visit her website at www.donnamigliaccio.com.

Jenn’s Review

Finally! After two long years of waiting, and four other books, Donna Migliaccio shares the origin story of the hatred between Daazna and Kristan Gemeta (the long-standing feud that fuels the war between the two men in the Gemeta Stone series). In a nutshell, this fantasy prequel is heartbreakingly profound and well-told, despite the very young age of our protagonist, Kristan.

Kristan Gemeta is just a little boy when Mumma passes away. Her final words to him, “Always be kind,” become a promise he makes to her and a guiding principle that stays with him through the coming storms. His father, the king of Fandrall, holds young Kristan at a distance as he copes with his own grief and trying to raise two young children without a mother.

TRB Pin Princeling Review
Jenn reviews Donna Migliaccio’s Princeling

Kristan’s childhood is brief – at a young age, his days are filled with tutors and brutal lessons that will dog him through life. One of the worst: how powerless he feels when a tutor’s apprentice, Daazna, is wrongfully accused and sent packing from the castle in shame.

Daazna will never forget that lesson, either. His thirst for knowledge and hunger for magic skills will shape his misadventures and dark deeds.

Considering the very young age of the protagonist, (Kristan is only 4 when his mother passes away), I am deeply impressed by Ms. Migliaccio’s handling of a parent’s death and a child’s grief. No one really bothers to try to explain to the boy what’s happening, and the reader gets an intimate perspective on how a child processes the loss and draws his own conclusions.

The entire series is a must for fantasy fans, and it isn’t necessary to start with Princeling to understand the rest of the series. However, for those who enjoy stories in chronological order, this book will get you hooked on Kristan’s adventures.

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback editions here.


Also by Donna Migliaccio

Kinglet (Book 1, Gemeta Stone)

Fiskur (Book 2, Gemeta Stone)

Stoneking (Book 3, Gemeta Stone)

Ragis (Book 4, Gemeta Stone)


Find out what we’re reading and what we’re loving in our monthly newsletter, Between the Lines. You can sign up for it here.

Thrice Read Books will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing. Please let us know all the ways you would like to hear from us:

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at books@thricereadbooks.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices here.