Cover Image: Once Upon a Broken Heart

Once Upon a Broken Heart

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Member Reviews

I do wish I had enjoyed this one more. Garber absolutely has a flair for storytelling. Her writing style is lovely and detailed.

Unfortunately, this story went a few places I didn’t really like. It hurt my heart that I actually kept rolling my eyes at certain points. I can’t get into it without spoiling things, but I was left feeling disappointed.

The long and the short of it is: it was completely underwhelming. There’s basically no plot to speak of, every character (yes even Jacks) fell flat.

There was a subplot point that didn’t even feel like it fit into the world Garber had created (again I don’t want to spoil anything). But all the while I was reading this part I kept thinking “this is so dumb”.

I don’t know if I’ll pick up the sequel.
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Wow! I couldn’t put this book down. The characters, the plot, the constant guessing! I loved every second. If you were a fan of Caraval, you’ll love this! Thank you netgalley and Flatiron for my copy.
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I don't read many books in one sitting, but this one I did. I enjoyed every minute of the start of Evangeline's journey, and I had already been eagerly awaiting Jacks. I really loved Jacks in this book, and I cannot wait to see where his character goes from here. This book fits very well into the YA fantasy genre. Evangeline behaves much as I would expect a heroine in this genre to behave - not a bad thing, just a fact. I loved Garber's descriptions in Cavaral, and this book continues that tradition. Sights. Smells. Sounds. It's all there. She had me pointing this way and that with Evangeline. And, at the end, when I flipped the last page, it gave me that all too delicious "WHAT?!" feeling. Priceless. I cannot wait for the next book! This book is suitable for all YA age groups with a good reading pace and manageable chapter lengths.
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I’m delighted to share my review today for Once Upon a Broken Heart, the brilliant first book in Stephanie Garber’s new series.  Though this is a spin-off of the Caraval series, it can easily be read as a standalone.  However, if you did read the series, you’ll be thrilled to know that several of the main characters have roles in this book as well.  

The story reads like a fairy tale in many ways. The magical elements, the winter castle, the curses, and the dark, ominous tone all contribute to the fairy tale feel. If Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, The Monkey’s Paw, and vampires could mesh together in the best possible way, they would make this story.  Garber is a masterful storyteller who quickly immerses you into this world of magic and curses and danger.  

The story follows Evangeline, who is devastated to learn that the boy she loves is marrying her step-sister.  To stop the wedding, Evangeline makes a deal with The Prince of Hearts that goes disastrously wrong. As payment, Jacks (The Prince of Hearts) requires Evangeline to give three kisses to whomever he wants whenever he chooses. The deal seems simple enough, and Evangeline agrees. However, this deal quickly proves more dangerous and deadly than Evangeline ever imagined.

Evangeline is naive, and she quickly realizes that expectations are not always reality, especially when dealing with The Prince of Hearts. She is such a compelling protagonist, and I really enjoyed her journey, both physical and emotional. Bold and brave and a bit impulsive at times, Evangeline never gives up hope, even when the odds are stacked against her, and she doesn’t know who to trust. All she wants is her happily-ever-after, which is why she makes a desperate deal with Jacks and changes the trajectory of her life forever.

And Jacks, oh Jacks!  The Prince of Hearts is the best kind of anti-hero.  He’s bad, brooding, and shrouded in mystery.  He’s the kind of character that you’re not sure if you should love or hate.  I loved him!  A tortured hero who has layers upon layers of secrets, Jacks is the morally grey, emotionally unavailable bad boy you can’t help but root for and fall in love with.  He is an enigma, and I could never truly figure out his motivations, especially when it came to Evangeline. What does he need from her? How does he really feel about her? If his purposes are nefarious, why does he protect her? He’s a compelling and fascinating character, and if you loved him in Caraval, you will adore this book!

Though Evangeline is trying to reunite with her first love, there is a definite connection between her and Jacks. The chemistry between Evangeline and Jacks is fantastic, and I love the enemies-to-lovers vibes I get from this pair. However, there are several possible love interests in the story, each intriguing in their own right. I’m curious to see how Evangeline’s relationships develop in future books and see the potential for possible love triangles (or even squares). However, I am 100% Team Jacks!

Myths, legends, and lore add a whole other dimension to the plot and setting and create stories within stories. I found this aspect of the novel so intriguing and love how much it adds to the development of the plot and setting. I also like how some of the legends and myths seem to parallel and prophesize what happens to the characters, including Evangeline and Jacks, throughout the story. Garber’s use of personification, symbolism, and imagery further adds to these stories, the setting, and the character development.

I absolutely loved Once Upon a Broken Heart! It’s a captivating and beautifully written story with mystery, intrigue, adventure, murder, magic, curses, vampires, betrayal, romance, and more. I can’t recommend the story enough for readers of young adult fantasy, and I’m eager to find out what happens next in this original and immersive series! Special thanks to Flatiron Books and Stephanie Garber for a copy of the book.  All thoughts are my own.
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Rating: 3.5 of 5

I hate it when I turn a page expecting there to be more and the Acknowledgements section is what greets me. This felt way too short and I want more. No, I need more.

I absolutely love being back in this world! Caraval was one of the best books I read way back 2017 and ever since then Stephanie Garber’s words and imaginative stories have carved their way into my heart. The author does so well in bringing whimsical stories to life and characters to root for.

Fans of Jacks will surely rejoice in this new series starter. I absolutely love reading more about him. You never really know where you stand with Jacks, and I think it’s part of the appeal. He’s charming, a bit (a lot?) untrustworthy yes but I feel like there’s so much more to him that will surprise readers. And whatever that might be, I can’t wait to find out. (Is it too much to hope for dual POVs from Evangeline and Jacks in the sequel?)

I love Evangeline’s unrelenting belief in love, fairy tales and happily ever afters. She’s such a genuinely likable character who is unapologetically hopeful, steadfast, wildly optimistic and brave. She follows her own heart, and I love her for it. She’s a ray of sunshine. She’s so refreshingly precious. And considering she’s a hopeless romantic I think we’d get along nicely.

Once Upon a Broken Heart boasts a wonderfully captivating story with magic, betrayal, heartbreak, curses and romance. I also enjoyed the mystery aspect of the book and the hints of danger, which I didn’t expect. What made the book even more exciting for me is the overall feeling of not knowing who to trust, of not knowing who the real heroes or villains are. I’m afraid to label a character a favorite because of this.

I honestly don’t know how the author does it but OUABH feels so magical and whimsical and like a perfect, wonderful dream I wouldn’t want to wake up from. The cliffhanger ending will haunt me ’til the next book comes out.

I received an ARC to read and review. Quoted excerpt/s may change in the final print.
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When the love of her life is about to marry her stepsister, Evangeline Fox strikes a deal with the Prince of Hearts. In payment, he demands in payment three kisses, to be given at his time of choosing. After the first kiss is given to the Prince of the North, Evangeline realizes she's trapped in a deadly game with an immortal, one that will either end in her happily ever after or completely break her heart.

Set after the events of the Caraval books, Once Upon a Broken Heart picks out a new resourceful heroine and brings back the bad boy you love to hate, or it it hate to love? Critically speaking, the story isn't nearly as good as Caraval, lacking originality and spending too much time in Evangeline's head. However, preteens and Caraval fans won't care and will gobble it up.
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I seriously loved the Caraval series so my expectations were pretty high when I started this.  And I must say I was not disappointed! I was so excited to see my boy Jacks! I also enjoyed seeing the new addition of characters as well as appearances by a fee characters from the Caraval series. The plot, writing, and dialogue were all on point. And after that cliffhanger I have to know what will be next!
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"Garber brings the same magic to the table with Once Upon a Broken Heart that she did with Caraval."

Full review to come on FreshFiction.com.
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I did end up liking this book quite a bit, but I did struggle with it a bit too. I think some of that was on me though, as I was reading it when I was a bit stressed out about work and so probably didn’t give it the attention I should have. But I do think that if you liked the Caraval books than you will like this one too.

Evangeline is an interesting character. She is in some ways nieve, but also smart and brave when she needs to be. I’m not sure she always makes the best decisions, but she also owns up to that fact herself. I did like her with Jacks and with Prince Apollo. I haven’t really decided which one to root for in the next book.

Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, continues to be his sly and enigmatic self, just like in the Caraval books. I was kind of hoping that we would get some of the story from his point of view, but alas it was not meant to be. I still enjoy him whenever he is on the page though. Not sure what he is really up to with Evangeline, but I have had fun trying to figure it out.

We do meet some more of the Fates, as well as having cameos of ones we have met before. I loved LaLa, the Unwed Bride, who was a hoot whenever she appeared. I hope to see more of her. Chaos was also a fun time. He is a very interesting Fate, and I would love to learn more about him.

The story itself was pretty good, but it seemed to be missing that special something that made the other books so good. Again, this could just be me and my mood while I was reading it, but I never felt truly connected or swept up by this story. I did like the setting though, it was fun to go to a different part of this world. I don’t think you really need to read the other books to enjoy this one, but it would help. I didn’t feel that the world is explained enough in this book for anyone who hasn’t read the others, which may prove confusing. Also the ending was a bit abrupt. I kept thinking I was missing pages or I skipped a few, but no, the book just sort of stops. Hopefully this gets fixed, but if not that’s ok too.

Overall, I did like the book, and I do recommend it to you especially if you liked the Caraval books. I also recommend it to those of you that like fairy tales and happily ever afters. I’m not positive that Evangeline will get hers, but I will be rooting for her in the next book.
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Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC. I was excited to read this book but it ultimately fell flat. I felt that I mostly felt frustrated because I wanted more to happen. I also found the main character annoying. Overall, I would rate this 2.5 stars.
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After reading this author's debut work Caraval—which was a breakout hit—and this work, I have to question whether Stephanie Garber's style agrees with me. Although the story has an enjoyable premise, it ultimately falls victim to similar issues I had with her previous work.

In terms of dealing with issues relevant to young readers, I am not sure I have much to recommend on that point. This is not to say that romance and heartbreak isn’t relevant to readers both young and old—it very much is. However, the way the book handles heartbreak leaves much to be desired. 

The book reads as fixedly heteronormative--I am not entirely sure I saw even a passing mention of same-gender relations at all in the book. The main antagonist/love interest, the Prince of Hearts, is searching for his true love who will be able to endure his kiss—and this figure is always referred to as a female. Unquestionably so. (Does his true love HAVE to be a woman?) 

Any mentions of characters of color are passing at best. As far as I can recall, there is no one of note. The female friendship, too, felt not only lacking, but rather undercut by the plot. The primary relationship with her stepsister, while fairly interesting and complex at first, devolves into cattiness as the girls are persuaded into distrustfulness of one another, and the final plot twist reveals that her stepsister has indeed been nearly as horrible as rumors wanted us to believe. While it seems like there may room left open for rekindling of the relationship in the sequel, I probably won’t be actively searching for the next book in the series. 

The secondary friendship comes into focus quite late in the book and largely takes the back seat, though I did enjoy the presence of LaLa when she was on the page—however, that is the operating phrase: “when she was on the page”. While I enjoyed her character, I found not much chemistry between the two girls, and I blame that partially on the lack of presence in the tale.

Instead, the main character is largely buffeted along through her romantic exploits, seeming to be told that the primary issue was that her obsession with love led her to the wrong man, rather than an obsession with falling in love being a problem to begin with. While some vague gesturing is made towards the fact that her obsession with love is an issue, it never gets time to be properly explored, in my opinion.

Moreover, character relationships are not given enough time to develop because the story is constantly whisking us to the next plot point without giving us time to breathe. It feels like an onslaught of interesting ideas without any time for exploration. 

Purple prose seems to be a staple of Garber’s works, and while I found it less noticeable than in Caraval, it still strayed into that territory quite often. The book’s opening lines are completely entrancing, but everything after that leaves much to be desired. There are times the prose fails to make logical sense. There are parts where characters disappear off the page without warning (I recall an encounter with a police officer where he hands her a paper, and then seemingly evaporates from the scene once she has taken the paper from him, even though he was supposedly vying for her attention). Amidst issues like these and others (e.g. “how would she be recognized by strangers on the street when this era seems to be pre-photography”), are not infrequent and pull the reader out of the work.

Due to the popularity of the author, I expect this book will end up on our shelves. However, I can't imagine giving it space on a special display
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No, you screeched when you found out there was a new Caraval book coming your way.

Evangeline Fox has a broken heart, and the only person who can help her stop the boy she loves from marrying her stepsister is the Prince of Hearts. Yes, that Prince of Hearts, our darling Jacks. She gets more than she bargained for when she finds the entire wedding party turned to stone. But Evangeline isn't cruel, and her choice to sacrifice herself so they can be okay turns her into a hero when another Fate returns her to human form several weeks later. This sets her on a course to the north as an Ambassador for Valenda. There she remains linked to Jacks by the deal she made with him, and the pair reluctantly team up to solve a mystery.

While set in the world of Caraval, much of what we see is new. The story appears to start before Scarlet and Tella arrive in Valenda, and Evangeline is a statue for the entire Week of Terror, where the Fates were released. We do briefly meet Scarlet and Tella in their new roles after the events of Finale but they are not players in this book aside from setting Evangeline on her way to the north. Fair warning: although this is its own series, I highly recommend you read the Caraval series first as it provides a lot of context. 

Evangeline is a great new character to take us on this new adventure. She feels like a mix of Scarlet and Tella with a lot of her ideas of romance and yearning for more. Her appearance has a little bit of a quirk with literal rose gold hair, just as Jacks has blue hair this time around. A lot of the time I was asking what or who is Evangeline? There are hints throughout that she might have magic of her own, and there is significance with her returning to the magical place where her dead mother was born. But what? And why is she in particular so important to Jacks and his secretive plan? I admit, I had assumed this would be more of a Jacks book but while he is there, this is very much Evangeline's tale to tell. I have hopes on how I want their story to go but I guess only time will tell if I am right. 

Was this better than Caraval? No. Was it just as whimsical and magical? Absolutely. Garber's tell-tale style of romance and world building is on display here as before. It's grand and sweeping and just a touch ridiculous, which is what makes me love her books so much. If anyone else had written something where a teenager gets proposed to after one night and married within a week I'd have tossed the book. With this book, I can only ask for more. Personally, I didn't find the story as exciting as Caraval was with the game component. That said, the mystery at the centre was very intriguing and difficult to predict. And we get to meet a few new Fates and some vampires. 

When I first heard about this book I assumed it was a standalone, but it is definitely the start of a new series. The ending of this felt a little abrupt and a confusing but I will absolutely be snagging the sequel first chance I can!
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I was a fan of the Caraval series, and recommend that readers start there because while technically you can read this as a stand-alone, it doesn't really work well that well.  Unlike the earlier books, this one is mostly set in the North, although there are a few Fates that have travelled with us, most importantly Jacks.  Instead of the Caraval festival, we have the Nocte Neverending, less elaborate and more Cinderella.  Evangeline and her stepsister are attending, but Jacks is, of course, involved thanks to a bargain he made with Evangeline.  No spoilers but assume there is betrayal, mythology, adventure, romance and many hidden agendas.  Unfortunately, this comes wrapped in an overwritten story, and a few things (vampires!) that don't really fit into the world Garber has built.  

eARC provided by publisher via Netgalley.
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Stephanie Garber's Caraval series is hugely popular. Billed as a YA The Night Circus, it promised to be mysterious, atmospheric, and intriguing. After reading a few chapters I found that it didn't really capture my interest at all.
The hype around her newest release Once Upon a Broken Heart is considerable, seeing that it's about one of the characters in her previous series, Jack's. Unfortunately I found it a bit juvenile and wasn't interested in finishing the book. It may just be personal taste, but I'll still have this book in our collection for the teens I know enjoy fairytale retellings and Stephanie Garber.
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"For finding dreams that don't exist yet."

The magical Caraval is one of my favorite trilogies and it’s no question that Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, is my favorite character in the whole series hence when Stephanie Garber announced her new series, Once Upon a Broken Heart (OUABH), I felt like my prayers have been answered. Jacks has always felt like a daydream full of playfulness and naughtiness; ecstatic was too mild of a word to describe my feelings in knowing that I’ll get to read more of him. I’m beyond excited to go back into this world!

The events of OUABH happened towards the end of Finale. There was a bit of overlap between this and the original trilogy but this is from someone else’s perspective, and let's call her Evangeline. OUABH is not an an exact continuation of Caraval, the story is completely different and is a separate series from the trilogy. It is not a must to read Caraval prior to reading OUABH, but I would highly suggest to read the Caraval trilogy first before picking up OUABH.

Stephanie Garber is the queen of magic. Reading Once Upon a Broken Heart felt like being dosed with glitters and unicorns. She created another whimsical fairytale but somehow she managed to make this world even more vivid and more magical. I’ve always admired Garber’s talent in using unique color descriptions.

The setting was amazing, there’s a lot of story, myths and legends within the story. It was a fairytale inside a fairytale and in a true Stephanie Garber fashion, you’ll find that you’ll keep questioning if you’re being played. The bits of mystery was so much fun to read. I devoured this and couldn't stop reading, it also reminded me a bit of Cinderella with some hints of Bridgerton (this may sound odd but once you read it you'll know what I’m talking about, or not, lol). 

The main character, Evangeline is bold and brave and reckless you can’t help but love her but also shout at her. Oh the things we do for love! Jacks on the other hand, is still his playful self and if I loved his morally grey character in Caraval, this is where I fell head over heels for him. Ugh, I'll never get enough of him!

Once Upon a Broken Heart has exceeded my expectations and is definitely a binge worthy book. I’m scared of what’s going to happen next, but I’m willing to make a deal with a Fate for an early copy of the sequeal! This is a must read and is defintely one of my top reads of 2021!


Thank you so much to Raincoast Books for the advanced digital copy of Once Upon a Broken Heart!
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Loved the magic component of this book. It was great to be back in the land of Caraval and I really enjoyed the move north. It’s a fun, quick read and the ending is spectacular.
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#OnceUponaBrokenHeart
#NetGalley #Edelweiss

Stephanie Garber has another captivating and beautifully written book under her belt. I cannot recommend this book and author enough to readers.
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"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."

In one word: Magical. If you know me, it is no secret that I loved the Caraval series... and one major reason is Stephanie's writing. You can tell that her mind is full of vibrant colors and romance. 

"Evangline has a gift when it came to believing in things that others considered myths -like the immortal Fates."

While this is set in the Caraval world, it is true that you definitely do NOT need to read that series prior. I highly recommend you do because it is fantastic. It will give a bit of a spoiler where two characters end up but you do not need to know much else. 

Caraval was a bit of a dark romantic game, this book is pure fairytale. Evangeline is a hopeFUL romantic and I loved her. She definitely makes some super optimistic but slightly bad choices, you cannot help but route for her. 

"People who don't like me call me Jacks."

Then there is Jacks. This guy. If you are unsure if he was a gray character in Caraval, then do not look to this book for answers. Just when you want to route for him as an unlikely hero, he shows he may not be. He has his own agenda and you can never understand what are his motivations for anything he says or does... but that is why we LOVE him. 

The setting was also wonderful... and actually my own personal fairytale. Wintery castles and lots of magic. Adorable white fully animals, sweet delicious desserts, and seasonal balls. Magic is more prominent in the North and I absolutely loved the bit of "history" that we learn... one aspect that particularly intrigued me is that history and stories are cursed in the North, so the end is never the same... and you never know how it truly does end.

"Hope is a difficult things to kill, just a spark of it can start a fire."

This book was SO quotable and I cannot wait to see some of my favorites all over the bookish community. Overall, this book was just as magical as I hoped for and I CANNOT wait for the sequel!
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Stephanie Garber, the author of the Caraval series, has given us another new series set in the same world. This book starts in the city of Valenda.
A mortal seeks the help of the Prince of Hearts to help her win back her lover and whom she believes to be her true love, who is now marrying her stepsister. In exchange, he asks for three kisses to use on whomever he wants and whatever time he sees fit. Oh, how we all will be swooning after Jacks. He is utter perfection.
This book is written, from the mortal Evangeline's perspective with Stephanie's unique writing style with her attention to detail she guides us through this wondrously lyrical tale of magic, romance, and intrigue.
With perfect pacing and the twists and turns in this book, you will not want to put it down.
The ending is a perfect one for a first book in the series and keeps you wanting more without having a terrible book hangover from a major cliffhanger.
I am so in love with this new series already and know that this book will be a much loved and adored one.

Troupes Included:
Parents are dead,
Forced Proximity,
Forbidden Romance.
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This book was received as an ARC from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

This story reminded me a lot of the Once Upon a Time series except for the fact that their true love was meant to be and the real ending actually happened. This time, Evangeline lost her true love to somebody else and she was destined to win him back but, there is also the possibility that their love was not meant to be and that someone else is destined for you. Evangeline did what any desperate dame would do and make a deal with the "devil" so to speak and in this case it was the Prince of Hearts. What he asks for in return seems simple enough but more than expected and that is three kisses from Evangeline. In the end, Evangeline will either live happily ever after or suffer a tragedy and it may or may not be with the man she expected. I love Fantasy tales with a twist and this sure had my mouth open and heart racing through many chapters throughout this book. I know our teen book club will have a blast discussing this book and I can't wait to hear their thoughts.

We will consider adding this title to our YA collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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