“Once upon a broken heart”


photo courtesy of Amazon

Natalie Wolff, Staff Writer

Crimson red, fiery orange and misty blue. The “Caraval” trilogy by Stephanie Garber will sweep you off your feet and make you fall in love with this beautiful and dazzling universe. The series centers around the significance of sisterly love and sacrifice, along with sprinkles of romance and of course, fantasy. With popular tropes such as enemies-to-lovers and devastating plot twists, it’s safe to say that this series is a must read.

The first book is in the third person perspective of the older sister, Scarlett, and the second book follows the younger sister, Donatella. The third shares the perspectives of both sisters as it reaches its intense finale. 

Jacks, the prince of hearts from the deck of destiny, is one of the most popular and beloved characters in this series. Introduced in the second book, “Legendary”, he steals the heart of Donatella (quite literally) and becomes a part of a tricky love triangle that left readers in suspense until the end of the series. Although Jacks did not receive the happiest of endings in this trilogy as Tella did pick the other guy, this new book in a spinoff series; “Once Upon a Broken Heart” actually centers around him and a new character. 

“Once Upon a Broken Heart” by Stephanie Garber was a much anticipated book which finally came out on Sept. 28, 2021. The story follows the life of heartbroken protagonist, Evangeline Fox, who makes a deal with our beloved Jacks, owing him three kisses from different people. It takes place around the same time as “Finale”, the final book in the original trilogy, in the same fictional city of Valenda.

This book kind of felt like a very distant Cinderella retelling, where Evangeline Fox plays the role of Cinderella, who loves to believe in fairy tales and happy endings. It would also make sense since she has an “evil” stepmom and an even more evil stepsister. That would make Jacks the deranged fairy godmother.

Overall, I had very high expectations going into this book, because the “Caravaltrilogy is honestly one of my favorite series of all time. However, “Once Upon a Broken Heart” did not live up to these standards.

For starters, our protagonist, Evangeline Fox was simply so stupid. In comparison to loving Scarlett and badass Donatella, she has nothing going for her except for the fact that she has natural rose gold hair, which is literally her only redeeming trait. Evangeline Fox just continuously made stupid decisions throughout the novel which made me want to throw my book across the living room and scream.

Besides our extremely boring protagonist, the plot was also lacking. I loved the world building and descriptions Garber created in “Caraval”, but even though this novel took place in the same universe, it did not have the same magic as before. The adventure that Evangeline and Jacks went on was just not very intriguing and I was confused with what was going on half the time. Also, the plot twists were very predictable and they did nothing but make me angry. 

Another aspect of the book that had many people anticipating it was, Jacks. I wish we could have learned more about him or even had the book in his perspective, but by the end, it seems that he’s still the same mischievous prince that he’s always been and his motives are still unclear. I was under the impression that this book was a standalone, but after leaving many plot holes and having the last page end on a plot twist, it’s clear that this book is set up for something more.

In conclusion, this book did not live up to my expectations and I’d rate it a good three out of five stars. If you’re looking for a good young adult fantasy novel, I’d recommend just reading the “Caraval” trilogy, but this book is not difficult to follow along without any prior knowledge of that universe.