‘Once Upon a Broken Heart’: The ‘Caraval’ author’s new book is a dark, twisting, magical tale!

“Regret was the worst. Regret was sour and bitter, and it tasted so close to the truth she had to fight sinking into it.”

How far would you go to cover up a mistake? Would you hurt your sister? The man you love? Would you endanger the lives of those around you?

These are the dilemma’s Stephanie Garber’s newest heroine Evangeline grapples with in the first instalment of her new series ‘Once Upon a Broken Heart’. A believer in magic, true love and happy endings, Evangeline naively enters into a bargain with a powerful Fate – Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. But she soon finds that the course of true love really never did run smooth…especially when an immortal and dangerous fate makes you his pawn in an ancient game.

Fans of YA fantasy may recognise Garber’s name from her immensely popular series ‘Caraval’, and this latest adventure has all the fantastically wicked stylings of her usual twisted fairytale-esque storylines. An atmospheric read, fans of Holly Black will adore this dark, seductive and glittering world that seems simultaneously beautiful and dangerous, like Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ forest, where anything could happen, both fantastical and frightening.

As Evangeline is swept into this world, beguiled by its glamour and trickster-like wordplays and rules, we are swept along with her. She’s the perfect self-insert character, as she’s wildly curious about the world around her, so we get plenty of explanations about the folklore and culture of this world we’re in, and yet she also makes many many mistakes and questionable decisions along her journey. Not quite an anti-hero, but also a far cry from the perfect heroines that have populated YA bookshelves lately, she screws up a lot and doesn’t seem to care too much about the consequences of certain actions, preferring to blame others and circumstances for her own decisions.

opened book beside crystal ball

This is actually refreshing, and makes her a more complex character, not the ‘human on the outside’ of the morally questionable fairy world, but rather, the human out to get what she can from what this dubious world is offering her.

Jacks, however, our Prince of Hearts, is the character you can tell Garber really put time into. She may show us this universe through Evangeline’s trusting eyes, but it is Jacks that pulls us headlong into it with a slick smirk and the toss of an apple. Jacks, the Prince of Hearts – or Broken Hearts, depending on who you’re talking to – adds an edge to this story that is needed. A dark and controlling force with a certain sad and seductive edge, his tragic background and Evangeline’s fascination with him has him set up for a redemption arc throughout the series. We enjoy him as he is the driving force behind Evangeline’s decision making, so you know when he appears, plots will begin moving again, but there’s something about him that makes us uneasy about his role as an unspoken potential romantic antagonist.

woman holding string lights

The misunderstood bad boy trope is as old as time, but this manipulative edge and power imbalance between himself and Evangeline doesn't sit quite right with us. But perhaps it is this uneasiness that intrigues readers as the unlikely duo leave a trail of destruction behind them on their journey deeper into this chaotic story filled with twists, turns and a little randomly…vampires.

Purchase a copy here to start the intoxicating journey into Garber’s latest magical dreamworld.