East of the Sun, West of the Moon is one of those fairytales that feels like it gets done all the time, because of how closely Beauty and the Beast resembles this original tale. But “Daylight’s Curse” was a fresh take on an old classic with all the hallmarks of big, epic fantasies that Hackett is so masterful at crafting. We follow Sebrena, an elf woman who struggles with belonging in her tight knit community as the only one without magic. Through a deal to help her family and her people, despite their ridicule, Sabrena agrees to marry the broody fae prince, who is cursed to be a dragon during the day, returning to his true form at night. Like Sabrena, Kiran also makes a deal that puts him at a disadvantage in order to protect the continent. Which makes for such a strong basis for these two characters, forced into a marriage neither truly wants, to build a genuine, and beautiful relationship from. As long as they don’t accidentally trigger the curse that could see their world destroyed by the evil troll sorceress in the meantime, of course.
Ok, let’s get the disclaimers out of the way: I was a critique partner for the author on this novel. I got to see the very first draft of this story, and trust me when I say, the updates and refinement that Hackett put into this novel were phenomenal. Rereading this story in its final form was an utter delight, and I am forever grateful to the author for trusting me enough to read her work of art in such a raw form. That being said, that’s why I waited until I could read the final version of this book before rating or reviewing the story, because a lot can change on the editing floor. But I was not disappointed in the slightest.
If you are unfamiliar with the original East of the Sun, West of the Moon story, I am happy to say you don’t have to know that tale in order to enjoy Daylight’s Curse. It can help with really understanding major plot points, but not having that knowledge base doesn’t detract from the magic within this story. If you’re a fan of classic fantasy elements like glittering magic, elves, fae, dragons, trolls, sirens, and a score of magical creatures, then you’ll love this story. Hackett not only incorporates all those elements flawlessly into this standalone romance, she does so with a healthy dose of heart and pure emotion. Because outside of all those fantastic elements, Sabrena is learning to love herself, to take up her space, to thrive, and that she is more than enough just as she is. It’s a beautiful message that I fully support! But, if that wasn’t enough, you have incredible family and found family bonds on top of a very tender and emotional love story. Oh, and did I mention all the action this book has? For such a lovely tale, there are plenty of action scenes to keep the pacing of this novel strong throughout.
Sabrena and Kiran are an amazing couple, but this book is full of well-developed side characters, too. I’m partial to Nakia, myself. But Hackett is a master of subtly, too, so I highly recommend you pay attention to her words, and not just because her use of prose is lovely, either (even though it is). Part III of this book flew by, so be prepared to not get any sleep when you hit that section! Plus, there are some absolutely gorgeous illustrations strewn throughout the novel which I love to stare at even after the book’s completion, just one of the many reasons why this book got 5 stars from me. If you are looking for a NA, standalone fantasy with some sweet romance and beautiful, emotional themes throughout, you’ll want to read Daylight’s Curse ASAP!
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