Genre: YA Romantasy

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Available On: Amazon

Stephanie Garber, celebrated for her Caraval series (which I really must get around to reviewing), crafts yet another magical realm in Once Upon A Broken Heart. Serving as the inaugural instalment of a trilogy (the second book being the enigmatically titled The Ballad of Never After, and the final entry the soon-to-be-published A Curse For True Love), the book artfully combines the elements of romance, magic, and adventure.

Our heroine, Evangeline Fox, is a vibrant tapestry of vulnerability juxtaposed with an indomitable spirit. (On a personal aside, I have a minor obsession with foxes and absolutely adore them, so I might be a tad biased in my affection for a character bearing such a name!) Her heart-wrenching journey commences with a desperate pact with the beguiling Prince of Hearts. This pivotal decision not only propels the narrative forward but underscores the dangers inherent in meddling with forces unknown and unseen.

One of Garber’s strengths lies in her meticulous world-building. The universe she introduces is lush with detail, each nuance contributing to the grandeur of the tale. The vivacity of the settings, ranging from animated marketplaces to decadent palaces, aids in immersing the reader within the story’s confines.

Character development is another forte of Once Upon A Broken Heart. Beyond the central figure of Evangeline, the ensemble cast, be they friends or foes, exhibit a complexity that enriches the narrative. The Prince of Hearts is particularly riveting, oscillating between charm and peril, ensuring readers remain engaged and ever-curious.

The story’s pace is adroitly managed, with Garber employing a mix of suspense, unexpected twists, and profound emotional moments to enthral her audience. The romantic arcs are adeptly interwoven, and the reader can’t help but fervently wish for Evangeline’s ultimate joy, regardless of the challenges that lie in her path.

While the novel is predominantly a triumph, certain plot developments might seem predictable to seasoned readers of the genre. Additionally, the tantalising allure of secondary characters leaves one yearning for a deeper dive into their backstories. Yet, these are minor quibbles in an otherwise enchanting narrative.

Once Upon a Broken Heart is not merely an introduction to a new series but a testament to Garber’s evolving narrative prowess. This book heralds the start of a promising trilogy, with a narrative that resonates with love, sacrifice, and the intricate dance between hope and heartache.

What Genre Is Once Upon A Broken Heart?

Once Upon A Broken Heart fits snugly within the Romantasy genre, a delightful fusion of romance and fantasy. Stephanie Garber has masterfully woven a tale that seamlessly blends the allure of magical realms and creatures with the heartbeats of romantic entanglements. While the novel offers moments of palpable romantic tension and chemistry, it sits respectfully within the boundaries typical of the Young Adult genre. 

How Spicy Is The Novel?

Spice Rating: 🌶️🌶️

The novel offers a flavourful blend of emotional connections and chemistry between characters. While Stephanie Garber crafts moments of palpable romantic tension, the narrative remains within the parameters typical of the Young Adult genre. As such, readers will find the romance emotionally engaging without venturing into the territory of explicit content. The novel balances the fine line between heart-fluttering moments and the innocence emblematic of YA romance, earning it a moderate spiciness rating.

What Romance Tropes Are In The Book?

Romantic tropes are a staple in literature, often serving as familiar anchors that guide readers through the ebbs and flows of a love story. In Once Upon a Broken Heart, Stephanie Garber artfully employs and occasionally subverts these beloved conventions, providing a fresh yet nostalgic reading experience. Let’s delve into some of the prominent romance tropes that can be identified in this enchanting Romantasy:

Deal with the Devil: Evangeline Fox makes a pact with the enigmatic and beguiling Prince of Hearts, setting the stage for the story. This trope revolves around making a deal or bargain, often with someone dangerous or mysterious, and the subsequent consequences and entanglements that arise from it.

Star-Crossed Lovers: The obstacles and challenges faced by Evangeline in her quest for love hint at this trope, where lovers are fated to be together but are kept apart by external forces.

Love Triangle: The book introduces multiple potential love interests for Evangeline, creating tension and uncertainty about who she will ultimately choose (or who will choose her).

Enemies to Lovers: As the story unfolds, relationships that start with tension, distrust, or outright enmity evolve into deeper, more intimate connections.

Forbidden Love: Elements of the story hint at relationships or attractions that are taboo or off-limits, either because of societal norms, personal obligations, or other factors.

Magical Romance: Given the fantastical elements of the world Garber has created, the romantic relationships are often intertwined with magical events, creatures, or abilities.