About the Book:
Title: The Ballad of Never After
Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Once Upon a Broken Heart #2
Page Length: 416
Publication Date: Sept. 13, 2022
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Synopsis: Not every love is meant to be.
After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.
But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.
Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . .
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The Ballad of Never After is an enchanting addition to the Once Upon a Broken Heart series! Rich and nuanced and so well-layered, Garber’s writing sucks you into this magical and dangerous world from the very first lines and fully immerses you until the final page. The story includes masterful imagery and symbolism, and the writing style is beautiful and poetic at times. It’s fantastic. The way Garber weaves the story so that it has the simplistic feel of a fairy tale but is actually incredibly layered and intricate blows my mind. I highlighted so many poignant lines throughout the story that I’m doing a separate post that spotlights my favorites.
I’m a big fan of Jacks and was so excited to get more of his story in this book. Learning more about his past put a lot of things in perspective and made me see him in a new light. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still enigmatic, complicated, and a gorgeous mesh of contradictions, but I adore him. He’s like Loki, often a villain, but you can still see so much good in him, and you want him to have a happy ending. Instead of a villain you love to hate, Jacks is a villain you love to love. Throughout the story, he reveals his strengthening feeling for Evangeline, and some of the things he says, combined with several heroic actions, make him even more swoon-worthy.
“It’s just one night,” he said softly. “In the morning, you can forget it. You can go back to pretending you don’t like me, and I can pretend that I don’t care. But for tonight, let me pretend you’re mine.”
Sigh…. Jacks and Evangeline have such a fascinating romance. Their relationship is so confusing and complicated and rife with chemistry and sexual tension. It definitely has the whole “I’ll kill anyone who messes with you” vibe going on, which I totally loved. There is so much emotion and intensity between these two, and their slow-building romantic journey is everything!! The push and pull, the way they challenge each other, the secrets, jealousy, and mixed feelings… it’s beautiful, frustrating, chemistry-laden, and positively swoon-worthy! Their relationship will pull at your heartstrings in the most wonderful of ways.
The story also has a ton of intrigue and intense moments, as Evangeline, with Jacks help, tries to find a way to break her husband’s curse which is inextricably tied to her. Even though they work together toward this goal, the secrecy and mystery surrounding the curse and what they’re searching for plants doubt as to what the real goal is for many of the characters. There are so many plot twists and layers to the plot, that you’re constantly kept guessing what will happen next. It’s entertaining, suspenseful, and so immersive. We also learn a lot more about the fates, which I enjoyed. It humanized many of them to an extent when their pasts are revealed.
I adored this book just as much as I did Once Upon a Broken Heart. This is a fabulous series for readers who enjoy YA fantasy or romantasy, and I can’t recommend it enough. For those who haven’t read the Caraval series and heard this is a spin-off – you don’t need to read that series to follow this one, but once you read it, you’ll definitely want to go back and devour everything Garber has read! That’s exactly what happened to me. I had never read a book by Stephanie Garber until I read Once Upon a Broken Heart last year. I was so enthralled by the brilliant writing, characters, and story that I’ve now read all of her books and look forward to future ones.
Special thanks to Flatiron Books for gifting me a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The romance!
- The writing.
Happy endings can be caught, but they are difficult to hold on to. They are dreams that want to escape the night. They are treasure with wings. They are wild, feral, reckless things that need to be constantly chased, or they will certainly run away.
Just one look set her blood on fire, and she liked the way it burned.
She’d come to the Magnificent North in search of love. But maybe she just didn’t want to be alone, didn’t want to be untethered. She didn’t want to be a person who could disappear without anyone knowing she was gone. She wanted to be important to someone.
She supposed in a way it was a sort of ever after. The curses linked the two of them inextricably, promising their lives would forever be intertwined, but this wasn’t the way she wanted them
Want to learn more about the series? Check out my review of Once Upon a Broken Heart!