Review Spoilers: Medium
Synopsis: When Jade was a little girl, a giant earthquake split New York City apart. In the wreckage, a mysterious kingdom appeared, ruled by a Queen who has the ability to sap all emotion from her citizens. Jade makes a bargain with the Queen to return her son to her in exchange for her freedom from the Queen’s icy grip.
This book is the first in a long series called Once Upon a Curse.
Frankly, it wasn’t any good. Let me tell you why.
The premise is interesting enough. A giant earthquake rips New York City apart and replaces it with an ancient, magical kingdom. The kingdom is ruled by a veritable Ice Queen. The Queen can take away all her subjects’ emotions. Jade, the heroine, makes a deal with the Queen. In exchange for her emotional freedom, she’ll retrieve the Queen’s son and bring him back to the castle.
Along the way, Jade has a romance with Asher, the Queen’s son, and she learns to feel again.
Let’s start with the prose. The writer tried to cram too much action into each sentence. It was scattered and unfocused – I had to reread a few sentences multiple times just to make sure I got all the action. Even then, I wasn’t ever sure what was going on. That’s because the world-building and descriptions were so poor. The descriptions of Jade’s world seemed like an afterthought.
There wasn’t any convincing character development. For a girl who has had all her emotions magically turned off, the process of getting them back did not ring true. It all happened in the course of a few pages – which of course, you had to re-read just to make sure you knew what was actually happening.
Now onto the romance.
I didn’t care. How could I when I have an emotionless protagonist who magically learns to love again out of nowhere? It was sloppy and it felt a little patronizing. Asher, the love interest, as a character was pleasantly vanilla enough, but I wasn’t convinced of their relationship and supposed love.
The ending was particularly anti-climactic. I won’t spoil it here if, for some inconceivable reason you decide to torture yourself for a few hundred pages, but it was the equivalent of, “You had the power to break the curse all along – it was inside of you.” Like the rest of the book, the ending made pretty much zero sense in context. You can’t just retcon the ending of your book. Deus ex machina does not make for good literature.
Final Thoughts: Honestly, for the first in a series, I cannot understand how the author got a book deal for the rest of her novels. Much like most of this novel, it’s absolutely incomprehensible.