Monday, September 6, 2021

ARC Review: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Title: Once Upon a Broken Heart (OUABH #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 416
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Evangeline Fox was raised in her beloved father’s curiosity shop, where she grew up on legends about immortals, like the tragic Prince of Hearts. She knows his powers are mythic, his kiss is worth dying for, and that bargains with him rarely end well.

But when Evangeline learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, she becomes desperate enough to offer the Prince of Hearts whatever he wants in exchange for his help to stop the wedding. The prince only asks for three kisses. But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she’s pledged. And he has plans for Evangeline that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

It's no mystery around my blog that Caraval is one of my all-time favorite series! Despite not loving book three, it's a trilogy I don't hesitate to recommend and I've read the first two books multiple times. Of course, I was ecstatic when I found out Stephanie Garber would be writing Jacks's story next and couldn't wait to start reading once I got my hands on an ARC! 

Once Upon a Broken Heart feels like a direct sequel to Finale, which I didn't quite realize. The author has said that it could be read independently, but it definitely spoils the ending of the Caraval series and features characters from it as well. I also don't know that it's entirely fair to call this Jack's story. When I first heard about it (and until recently) I mistakenly thought it would be from his point of view. Instead, this book is told entirely from Evangeline's POV and, while Jacks does feature heavily, he is not the main character. 

Luckily, I really enjoyed Evangeline as a protagonist, although not quite as much as Scarlett and Tella. I felt for her struggle over trusting her stepsister and wanting to be loved deeply by someone. There are multiple love interest options for Evangeline in this story and, surprisingly, Jacks really isn't one of them. I did love their interactions and watching their friendship (or is it?) develop over the course of the book. Jacks is still one of the most intriguing characters in YA and I especially enjoyed reading more about his role as a Fate. It's never quite clear how much Jacks can be trusted or what his goals are. 

As for the plot and world building, it did all feel very similar to Finale (which felt very different than Caraval to me). Stephanie Garber's writing is just as whimsical and fantastic as it has always been and I flew through the pages to see what would happen next! I loved exploring the North and its fairy tale lore and was glad to see more of this world explored. Like in her previous series, everything was shrouded in mystery. What did feel different was that each plot point felt a bit spoon fed and I wish there had been a bit less hand holding. There's also a lot of flip flopping on who and what can be trusted, which was a little frustrating at times. 

Although this wasn't a perfect read for me, I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series! I'm hopeful that now that all the mysteries have been set in motion, things will start to make sense and fall into place. I'm also really hoping to get some POV chapters from Jacks! I am dying to know more about his thoughts and motivations. If you enjoyed Caraval like I did, you're not going to want to miss this story!