Thursday 7 October 2021


Book review: Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

The Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber is one of the most imaginative, exciting, and memorable series I've ever read. And as friends online and offline are all too aware of, it's one of my staple book recommendations from the past 5 years (alongside the incredible Station Eleven), to anyone looking to pick up a new read. I started out loving the series for its magical world-building, but it's the characters that kept me hooked until the finale. One of the most complex, nuanced, and mysterious has always been the mischievous Jacks. And we haven't heard the last of this Prince of Hearts, as he's a pivotal character in the new spin-off, Once Upon a Broken Heart, which is set in the same world as Caraval but can also be read as a stand-alone.   

When a Fox and a Fate meet, fairytales become history, and truths and lies become entangled in complicated webs of secrets and betrayal...

In the world of Evangeline Fox, magic is in the air. Brokenhearted she seeks out the Prince of Hearts, Jacks, so she can strike a deal that will reunite her with her one true love – before he marries another. But her desperate plea has unexpected consequences, as so often is the case when trying to get something from a powerful but mischievous being. Not only does he not reunite Evangeline with the one she loves, she's also stuck with the promise of giving three kisses in future instances when he needs them. 

And given that Jacks is a powerful Fate on a mission to open the mythical Valory Arch – which is either a good or a very, very bad thing, according to the two different versions of history – Evangeline is soon embroiled in a plot that can change her world forever. 

As a passionate fan of Caraval, I had incredibly high hopes for the first instalment in a new duology set in the same enchanting world, and I was not disappointed. Evangeline Fox is a brand-new protagonist taking existing fans and new readers on a magical journey through her world. She is naive, and a dreamer, and believes is fairytale happily ever afters. She would be annoying if she wasn't so damn likeable. And she grows a lot over the course of the story, leaving behind some of her naivety and becoming pretty kick-ass and independent by the end of it. 

But let's get to the point of why we're all here: Jacks. The tortured and equally heartbroken Prince of Hearts is the true star of this new series. The majority of this story takes place just after the events of Finale (the last instalment in the Caraval trilogy) and we know where that left Jacks: kicked out of the love triangle that was so pivotal to the original series. He has a lot of feelings to deal with, and he isn't dealing with them at all. Instead he rushes head-first into the Valory Arch mission with Evangeline. He's passionate, deceitful, and utterly reckless – and yet we still love him, don't deny it. 

While Jacks is undoubtedly the one that will hook readers into this book, there is such a fascinating array of minor new and old characters rounding out the cast too; from other Fates to blood-lusty vampires. It's a ride, you guys. And I haven't even started to try and explain the plot yet. Let's just sat that if you thought Caraval had strong world-building, your mind will be blown by the depth of Stephanie Garber's imagination this time around. She takes tropes from fairytales, myths, and even murder mysteries and brings them together in the most spectacular way. 

Once Upon a Broken Heart is jam-packed with magic, mischief, murder, and an epic mythology at the heart of it all. I cannot wait for everyone to discover this dazzling new tale set in the world of Caraval!

"All stories are made of truths and lies. What matters is the way that we believe in them." – Once Upon a Broken Heart, page 7.

Once Upon a Broken Heart
by Stephanie Garber is published by Hodder & Stoughton and you can buy your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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