Once Upon a Broken Heart

August 7, 2021

by Stephanie Garber

This book … I don’t know how to better describe it than to say that it was a very delightful surprise. 

I have not read any of Stephanie Garber’s previous books (Caraval etc.), and I had no idea when getting into this book that it was set in the same world. I don’t know why, but I had gotten the idea that it was a completely different series set in a new world. However, I can’t say that I missed anything because of this. The only reasons I even realized that this was in the same world as Caraval was because of some Caraval fan art that was shared on Instagram and the name of one character was the same as one in Once Upon a Broken Heart. So, what I mean is that you definitely do no need to read Caraval before this book to enjoy it. 

So, on to the actual review. As I got into this book, I was really surprised by the style of writing. It was so odd in a way that intrigued me. It’s written very much like a fairytale. And the strange thing was that as I was reading I felt like my face was stuck as a question mark. I had no idea what I was reading, and several times I kind of shook my head and thought that I wouldn’t want to keep going, that this wasn’t a book for me because of this fairytale style that it had. Then, I looked at how far I had been reading, and I realized I was already at 25%.

I had read a quarter of the book without even realizing it, because it just wanted to be read, and it was impossible to stop reading. And the longer I read, the more I wanted to keep going. And I just flew though the book because it was so easy to read, and always so interesting. 

This book isn’t what I would call a traditional fantasy novel, it’s actually unlike anything that I’ve read before. And I’m very intrigued to pick up Caraval to see if that book is written in the same way.

So, if this isn’t a fantasy, then what is it? Well, I’d say that this book is like Dan Brown had a baby with Harry Potter. It’s a whimsical fantasy set in a 15-16th century style world where objects are almost sentient and magic is real. There’s this overall feel of Harry Potter in the world with all its oddities and whimsies and strange creatures and so on. At the same time, this is a mystery, and a very good one at that. 

Strange things have happened that leads our main character on a quest to not only find the truth but set things right again. Only, things seem to get worse and worse the more she tries and the mystery gets deeper and harder to figure out. There no knowing who to trust and who’s actually betraying you. 

The worldbuilding was really good, and I could vividly see the scenes painted before me as the story progressed. The characters felt real, and I loved how the relationships were described and how they developed in natural yet unexpected ways. 

The only things I’m upset about is that I need to wait forever to read the sequel. I want to know how things end, and this is part of a series, so that means that this book doesn’t end with all the answers spelled out. We’re actually left on a bit of a cliffhanger, but still not enough that I’m upset about it (I hate real cliffhangers). In One Upon a Broken Heart, the author does wrap up most of the things that I as a reader want the answers to, and most importantly the main mystery is wrapped up. We’re left with some huge questions at the end, tough, and unresolved things between characters, which in all honesty is a great way to end and ensure the reader will want to pick up the next book. 

I had a very hard time even coming up with something to put in my cons section on my blog. But I have added some things. Mainly that I do feel like the characters are perhaps a little too perfect. Everyone seems to be picture perfect beautiful, even those tho are mentioned not being as pretty are still somehow shown to be gorgeous. It ends up hard to appreciate the characters’s looks when everyone is “breathtakingly beautiful” etc.

The other thing is that the book sometimes feel a little too childish. A little too much whimsy and odd to be taken seriously.

So, with all of that rambling done. All I can say is get your hands on this book. I loved it!

5/5 stars and a huge thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an arc, and to the author for writing the first book in a looong time that I finished in less than 24 hours. 

Read it!

Wrap Up

Once Upon a Broken Heart

  • 10/10
  • 10/10
  • 9/10
  • 9/10
  • 8/10


  • Great worldbuilding
  • Great plot
  • Interesting characters


  • Characters are a little too perfect
  • At times a little childish
  • Cover not matching style of book

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