Book Review: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

About the Book:

Title: Once upon a Broken Heart

Author: Stephanie Garber

Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart

Page Length: 416

Publication Date: Sept. 28, 2021

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Synopsis: A new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

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…

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon    |    

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My Review:

All stories are made of both truths and lies, she used to say. What matters is the way that we believe in them.

I’m delighted to share my review today for Once Upon a Broken Heart, the brilliant first book in Stephanie Garber’s new series!  Though this is a spin-off of the Caraval series, it can easily be read as a standalone.  However, if you did read the series, you’ll be thrilled to know that several of the main characters have roles in this book as well.  

The story reads like a fairy tale in many ways. The magical elements, the winter castle, the curses, and the dark, ominous tone all contribute to the fairy tale feel. If Rumplestilskin, Cinderella, The Monkey’s Paw, and vampires could mesh together in the best possible way, they would make this story.  Garber is a masterful storyteller who quickly immerses you into this world of magic and curses and danger.  

The story follows Evangeline, who is devastated to learn that the boy she loves is marrying her step-sister.  To stop the wedding, Evangeline makes a deal with The Prince of Hearts that goes disastrously wrong. As payment, Jacks (The Prince of Hearts) requires Evangeline to give three kisses to whomever he wants whenever he chooses. The deal seems simple enough, and Evangeline agrees. However, this deal quickly proves more dangerous and deadly than Evangeline ever imagined.

Evangeline is naive, and she quickly realizes that expectations are not always reality, especially when dealing with The Prince of Hearts. She is such a compelling protagonist, and I really enjoyed her journey, both physical and emotional. Bold and brave and a bit impulsive at times, Evangeline never gives up hope, even when the odds are stacked against her, and she doesn’t know who to trust. All she wants is her happily-ever-after, which is why she makes a desperate deal with Jacks and changes the trajectory of her life forever.

If hope were a pair of wings, Evangeline’s were stretching out behind her, eager to take flight again.

And Jacks, oh Jacks!  The Prince of Hearts is the best kind of anti-hero.  He’s bad, brooding, and shrouded in mystery.  He’s the kind of character that you’re not sure if you should love or hate.  I loved him!  A tortured hero who has layers upon layers of secrets, Jacks is the morally grey, emotionally unavailable bad boy you can’t help but root for and fall in love with.  He is an enigma, and I could never truly figure out his motivations, especially when it came to Evangeline. What does he need from her? How does he really feel about her? If his purposes are nefarious, why does he protect her? He’s a compelling and fascinating character, and if you loved him in Caraval, you will adore this book!

Though Evangeline is trying to reunite with her first love, there is a definite connection between her and Jacks. The chemistry between Evangeline and Jacks is fantastic, and I love the enemies-to-lovers vibes I get from this pair. However, there are several possible love interests in the story, each intriguing in their own right. I’m curious to see how Evangeline’s relationships develop in future books and see the potential for possible love triangles (or even squares). However, I am 100% Team Jacks!

For finding dreams that don’t exist yet.

Myths, legends, and lore add a whole other dimension to the plot and setting and create stories within stories. I found this aspect of the novel so intriguing and love how much it adds to the development of the plot and setting. I also like how some of the legends and myths seem to parallel and prophesize what happens to the characters, including Evangeline and Jacks, throughout the story. Garber’s use of personification, symbolism, and imagery further adds to these stories, the setting, and the character development.

I absolutely loved Once Upon a Broken Heart! It’s a captivating and beautifully written story with mystery, intrigue, adventure, murder, magic, curses, vampires, betrayal, romance, and more. I can’t recommend the story enough for readers of young adult fantasy, and I’m eager to find out what happens next in this original and immersive series! Special thanks to Flatiron Books and Stephanie Garber for a copy of the book.  


Favorite Lines:

Heroes don’t get happy endings. They give them to other people.

I believe there are far more possibilities than happily ever after or tragedy. Every story has the potential for infinite enedings.

Evangeline’s doubt was like salt. There wasn’t much of it, yet it seemed to alter the taste of her thoughts.

Perhaps that was the true magic of Nocte Neverending – not the music or the magical-looking drinks, but the incredible hope that everyone found. There was something fantastically bewitching about the idea that a person’s destiny could change in one single night.

She knew there were downsides to feeling deeply; it could get in the way of logic and reason. But shutting off emotions was just as treacherous.

15 thoughts on “Book Review: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

  1. I love how you delved into the idea of myths and fairytales, but also how their used to tell this story, it sounds like there’s lots of symbolism with that through Garber’s storytelling! Great review, I’m interested in seeing a new story set in the Caraval world. 😍

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