Stephanie Garber has been one of the most popular YA authors of recent years since she exploded onto the scene with her Caraval series. Once Upon A Broken Heart follows up on that trilogy, but at the same time stands on its own. It is the first in a new series, but features some characters that will be familiar to readers of the earlier books, while the plot itself goes in a completely new direction. The cover is also absolutely stunning (which, to be fair, is part of the reason I was so excited to dive back into the world).
Many thanks to Kate at Hodder for sending me an eARC via NetGalley, all opinions are my own as usual.
RELEASE DATE: 30/09/2021
STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in happily ever after. Until she learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, and her dreams are shattered.
Desperate to stop the wedding, and heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.
But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game – and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy… (from Hodder)
OPINIONS: I should probably preface this by saying that I’m not exactly the target audience for this – I’m more of a person who tends to get sucked in by books that are a bit more off the beaten path and a tad less commercially oriented. That said, Once Upon A Broken Heart does hit upon a lot of the popular trends at the moment and it makes a lot of sense that this, and Garber’s other books are as popular as they are. You have the aspirational heroines, who aren’t as well-defined as to not let readers self-insert, you have dark and broody love interests with a villainous streak and you have twists and turns, romance and betrayal.
But while it is a fun and entertaining read, it never properly absorbed me. Part of it may be down to formatting issues that the eARC had (the story is interspersed with newspaper articles, and those ended up very messy, with scattered text), which will be fixed in final copies, though I don’t think that it is only that. I guess it may also be that I am just not as taken in by either of the men in Evangeline’s life – they’re just not all that swoon-worthy to me, tbh, one is bland and doesn’t really have a discernible personality, and the other is a manipulator with a track-record of being a bad person? And Evangeline herself is kind of a damsel in distress type character throughout the story, constantly relying on everyone else to sort things out for her and going ‘woe is me’. Somehow I think I may be slightly saltier about this book than I thought before I started writing this review… It’s not like it’s a bad book, but I think ultimately, it’s not one for me. And that’s ok. It’s a book aimed at a different type of reader and I really should learn not to always get sucked in by pretty covers when I kind of know that I won’t love the story from the start.