I have always seen myself as the princess Belle. A reader with brown hair and hazel eyes, she was always the Disney princess I looked up to. So when I decided to write the story of Beauty and the Beast into my novels, I knew I wanted to include some other elements of my own character that would make my Belle (or Annabelle rather) unique.
One of those characteristics I wanted to add was the nerve syndrome I face or at least a variation on it. Annabelle Degaré, the "beauty" in my twist on Beauty and the Beast entitled The Beauty has Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome that mostly acts up in her leg giving her nasty rashes she hides with long dresses and a limp that acts up from time to time.
Maybe that's why I was drawn to a story of a fierce girl with CP who also has a limp and who, despite unpleasant first impressions, can't help falling in love with a man that turns into a beast at the end of each season, terrorizing his towns and killing many of his people. He needs someone to fall in love with him but all he can do is strategize how to make that happen. She needs to return to her home but she can't make that happen so instead, she'll try to fix his kingdom, one person at a time. They're perfect for one another, exactly what each other needs...if only they can admit it.
The Cursebreaker series was a solidly average book series. It was nowhere near as good as books like the Serpent and Dove trilogy, Little Thieves, The Lunar Chronicles, and other books that make my top ten. Little things like the way the author named the language of the main kingdom "Emberish" (the kingdom's name is Emberfall) made me cringe. Other places were slightly imperfect or simply good...just not up to the standards of a five-star book.
The trilogy begins with Harper, a girl in her late teens living with CP in Washington DC with her brother and mother. Her mother has cancer and her brother works as an enforcer for some bad guys to make up for the debt her father gathered trying to pay for the medical care for her mother. Harper takes watch while her brother does his job and while she does so, she notices a man taking a woman (seemingly intoxicated) somewhere she may not want to go. Limping on her bad leg, Harper attacks the man with a pipe and manages to accidentally be taken instead...to a magical realm called Emberfall where a prince is trapped in a spell. At the end of each Autumn (or every time he dies) the spell (and the season) restarts and he is brought a new girl. Should he not fall in love with her (and she with him) he turns into a monstrous creature that kills everything in his path unless his guard (Grey) can stop him.
Now, according to Lilith, the woman, and enchantress who cursed him, it is the last season and if Harper does not fall in love with him, he will be cursed to remain in the form of the monster, killing off his people for the rest of his life.
The trilogy, while not perfect, is good. I enjoyed the storyline, particularly the elements that were original. I loved Harper's character and her ability to push through anything that was tossed on her plate. Her CP was a great addition to the character and gave me some ideas of how to write a limp and disease into the Beauty and the Beast storyline (which, to be clear, was something I was planning on doing before reading this book because of my own nerve syndrome).
Mostly though, I loved how she didn't get angry with the lot she was given in life. Instead, she chose to always give back. She wanted to constantly fight things herself even when she should have been asking for help. She tried to dive in when she should have been holding back because of her limitations. And she didn't let things limit her when most people would have. It is the kind of person I want to be, the kind of pitfalls I sometimes find myself having, and the kind of character I want my own Belle to have (in some ways, though she is not as sarcastic as Harper is). The book was inspirational and helpful for my own writing.
The book was also an easy read. Though I wouldn't say there were constant plot twists or exciting fights or romances I never saw coming, the book was never boring and was never difficult to understand. I always knew where I was at in the storyline, who's point of view I was reading from, and where in the realm I was. The book was well-laid out so that each of the pages were short and the books flew by quickly. I never had trouble reading the books and, in fact, after finishing the final novel, had difficulty choosing my next one, not necessarily because the books were ingenious but because I longed for an easy read, a simple storyline, and a similar fantasy.
Anyone looking for something like Sarah J. Maas's Court of Thorns and Roses in an easy-to-read format with less explicit content will enjoy this series.