book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BOOK REVIEW: Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Published: September 30th 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Romance Novel, Romantic Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of Once Upon A Broken Heart. I read this beguiling novel as part of a buddy read with Jodie.



How far would you go for happily ever after?

From the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in happily ever after. Until she learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, and her dreams are shattered.

Desperate to stop the wedding, and heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game – and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy . . .



“The bell hanging outside the curiosity shop knew the human was trouble from the way he moved through the door.”

And with that intriguing quote so begins one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021.  
I’d read many reviews raving about this book and had heard countless praise for Stephanie Garber, so I was filled with both excitement and trepidation when I finally read it as part of a buddy read in February.  Would it live up to the hype?  What I discovered between the pages was not what I expected, it was even better.  Alluring, intoxicating and beguiling, it cast its spell on me from the first page and didn’t let go.  I got lost in this fairytale world and never wanted to find my way out. 

“Always promise less than you can give, for Fates always take more,
Do not make bargains with more than one Fate,
And, above all, never fall in love with a Fate.”

Set in the fictional world of Valenda, it tells the story of Evangeline Fox, a young girl desperate to win back the man she loves.  So she seeks out Jacks, also known as the Prince of Hearts, and strikes a deal.  All he asks for is three kisses that are to be given at a time and place of his choosing.  It seems so simple.  But Evangeline soon learns that a deal made with an immortal can be dangerous and there is always a higher price to pay…

“She sensed that she was living in an illusion and if she looked closely, she’d see that everything she’d thought was stardust was really just the burning embers of a wicked spell.” 

Stephanie Garber has a new fan.  I was mesmerised by this magical tale and now understand the hype.  Beautifully and evocatively written, Ms. Garber brings to life the world she created so vividly that I felt like I was right beside Evangeline in this world of enchantment, illusion and bewitchment where fairytales come true.  But I don’t want to say more about the plot because this is one of those times I think it’s best to go in as blind as possible and enjoy the thrill of experiencing the story unfold for yourself.

“She also knew that sometimes there was a murky space in between good and evil.”

Evangeline and Jacks are great protagonists. I enjoyed their contrasting characters and how they represented good versus evil: Evangeline the innocent, sweet and naive girl who believes in love and happily-ever-after is the good, while Jacks is the seductive, enthralling, calculating and manipulative villain represents the bad.  But over time we begin to see other sides to their personalities, particularly Evangeline, who must become more wiley in order to survive her time in Valenda.  But it was Jacks who stole the show for me; his irresistible charm captivating me like those he traps with his bargains.  Plus, there is just something about a complex, layered and morally grey character like him that I love.

“All stories are both truth and lies. What matters is the way we believe in them.”

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a delightful and whimsical tale that glistens with magic.  And that ending!  It crept up on me out of nowhere and left me desperate to know what happened next.  I need book two now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5



Stephanie Garber is the #1  New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval Series. Once Upon A Broken Heart is her newest book. Her books are published in over thirty languages.

When she’s not writing, she’s usually reading or watching television shows with vampires. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland.



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

book reviews

The Furies by Katie Lowe ⭐⭐⭐


Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre:  Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction, Paramanoranol Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

Thank you to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in this readalong and to HarperCollinsUK for the gifted copy of the book.



Quiet, artistic, unremarkable. When invited to an advanced study group by her alluring art teacher, Annabel, she is at once terrified and delighted.

There she meets Robin, Grace, and Alex: charismatic outsiders who invite her into their clique.

But once the study sessions on the school’s history of seventeenth-century witchcraft and magic become more than just theory, Violet must decide what she’s prepared to do in order to stay popular.

And maybe she’ll solve the mystery of what happened to a former member of their group. The one who went missing.


“Some things simply cannot be believed. Even when you know they’re true.”

The Furies is a story about power and vengeance. It follows four teenage girls full of insecurities and desperate to fit in who, like the mythological Furies, use their powers to punish evil deeds. It shows the force peer pressure can wield and the damage that can be done by choosing the wrong friends.

Violet is the new girl at Elm Hollow College, a prestigious school with a past steeped in rumours of witchcraft. She is soon befriended by Robin, who is the yin to Violet’s yang. The pair soon become inseparable and Violet becomes friends with Robin’s other friends Alex and Grace. After being invited to be part of a secret group by one of the teachers, Violet learns more about the school’s inauspicious history and the four girls begin to study witchcraft, using it to wield power and seek vengeance on those they deem deserving.

Violet and Robin are drawn to each other for very different reasons – one wants a follower, the other to be accepted. Violet is a quiet, intelligent girl who overthinks everything. She is still coming to terms with the death of her father and sister and is just trying to get through each day, preferring to blend into the shadows. Robin is gregarious, spontaneous and loves any kind of attention. She has a reputation as a bad girl that she thrives on. Violet is beguiled by her and blindly follows wherever she goes, finding herself drawn down a dark path of debauchery, obsession and death. I liked their differences and felt like deep down they both had a vulnerability that’s rooted in a need to belong and feel seen. At times it seemed a stretch how Violet would do whatever Robin wanted without thinking, but peer pressure is a strong thing and many teenagers find themselves in situations they’d never have even considered because a friend dared or encouraged them to do it.

The Furies opens with a stunning prologue full of beautiful prose that is at odds with the dark, macabre things being described. There is a promise of something sinister and foreboding. Unfortunately, the rest of the book is a slow-burn and feels a bit lacklustre after such a compelling start.

But while I didn’t love the book, I did like it. The atmospheric, lyrical prose draws you in and brings the world to life around you. I enjoyed the school lore and the interesting perspective on vengeance that is offered through the study of myth and witchcraft – something that was clearly well researched. I did find some things about this book a little disappointing, such as the story was told like a stroll down memory lane rather than the eerie, murder mystery that the prologue and synopsis teased. Also, I found the characters in the book unlikeable and was unable to bring myself to really care who lived or died or what had happened to the missing girl.

Overall, this was a well-written book that was just a little too slow and not witchy enough for me. It may be more suited to a younger reader and I would recommend this if you’re looking for a coming-of-age story rather than a mystery.



Katie is a writer living in Worcester, UK, whose debut novel The Furies is published by Harperfiction (UK), St Martin’s Press (US) and eight other territories worldwide.

A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Katie has a BA(Hons) in English and an MPhil in Literature & Modernity. She returned to Birmingham in 2019 to complete a PhD in English Literature, with her thesis on female rage in literary modernism and the #MeToo era.




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