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I just finished reading Once Upon A Broken Heart, and I have so many feelings!
This book is written by Stephanie Garber and takes place in the same world as the Caraval series (also by Garber), BUT you do not have to read Caraval to read Once Upon A Broken Heart.
I have not read the Caraval series and was not aware of the connection between the two series till after I finished OUABH.
One of my complaints about this book is that the world did feel underdeveloped, so I do wonder if I had read her other series prior if I would have felt differently…hm, whatever!
If you need a refresher before reading A Ballad of Never After or just want a summary, keep reading! There will be spoilers if you read further!
Once Upon A Broken Heart Summary – Part 1
The story begins in The Meridian Empire and follows a seventeen rose gold-haired girl, Evangeline, who works in her father’s curiosity shop.
This world is full of magic and mystery, and nothing’s really quite what it seems. There are many fairytale-like elements in this book but always with a little twist.
The book follows our young protagonist, Evangeline Fox, whose parents are dead, and she lives with her stepmother.
This book is sort of like Cinderella but with more sugar, pink hair, and Fates who interfere with humans and their love stories.
Evangeline prays to the Prince of Broken Heart, Jacks, and strikes a deal with Fate to try to free her ex-love, Luc, who she believes is under a curse!
Evangeline is convinced that her stepmother cursed her boyfriend and first love, Luc, to fall out of love with her and in love with her step-sister, Marisol. Their wedding ceremony is underway when Evangeline finds Jacks.
Jacks makes a deal with Evangeline that he will stop the wedding if she agrees to kiss three people whenever he chooses and whoever he chooses.
She makes this deal with Jacks and then returns to her home to find her stepsister and Luc’s wedding ceremony most definitely stopped, but the bride, groom, and all the guests have been turned to stone!
Evangeline knows she messed up and quickly drinks the potion left at the site to turn herself into stone.
This is done so the rest of the wedding party can come back to life as normal, non-statue humans!
This is where the book starts to heat up…but also not really…
Evangeline wakes up several weeks later in the presence of another Fate, Poison, who has healed her of her stone state of being.
She is now seen as “Valenda’s Sweetheart Savior,” and she feels really guilty because Marisol is now labeled by the tabloids as “The Cursed Bride”.
Not only did her first wedding end in not only everyone turning to stone but also it’s revealed that her second attempt to get married resulted in Luc getting mauled by a wolf and he felt so bad about how ugly he looked that he left the continent. Bye!
Evangeline returns home to a media frenzy, and also a lot of baked goods (this book has so many pastries in it, which is so bizarre to me).
Evangeline is equally parts feeling guilty for how much bad press her stepsister is getting, and also super annoyed by all the positive attention she is getting. That is, until the Empress of the North, Scarlett, invites Evangeline to tea.
At tea with Scarlett and her sister, Donatella, Evangeline is asked to travel to the capitol of the Magnificent North, Valorfell, and partake in Nocte Neverending on behalf of the Empress and represent the South.
Evangeline’s parents are from the North, and she has always dreamt of visiting the magical lands and living out all the fairy tales she grew up hearing from her mother.
She asks if she can bring along her stepsister (to get her away from the whole Cursed Bride thing and her terrible stepmother) and the two girls are off on a journey across the sea!
Once Upon A Broken Heart Summary- Part 2
Once Evangeline and Marisol cross to the North, they are greeted with gossip and glamor. The crown prince, Apollo, is hosting dinners and balls as part of Nocte Neverending and searching for a bride.
There is a gaggle of girls hoping to become his princess, including Evangeline! Her reputation of savior follows her to the North, as well as Marisol’s reputation as the Cursed Bride.
At the first noble dinner, Evangeline and her stepsister attend. Evangeline runs into Jacks, and he cashes in her first kiss: she must kiss the crown prince himself (ooolala)!!
They have a very PG make out sesh after Jacks puts his blood on Evangeline’s lips (that cannot be sanitary).
From here, Evangeline is the favorite of the tabloids, and the gossip sheets are pitting Marisol against her stepsister and claiming that she is buying spell books that put Evangeline is in danger.
This places a kernel of distrust in Evangeline about Marisol, but she still feels guilty that she went behind her back to end her wedding to Luc.
The first ball is upon them, and Marisol and Evangeline attend together. We meet some of the other ladies in attendance such as Lala (Aka Ariel Lagrimas), who befriends Evangeline.
At this first ball, Apollo asks Evangeline to marry him, and she says yes!
Wedding bells are in the air…like, literally. Apollo has Evangeline and her sister move into Wolf Hall and serenades her every hour with a choir of bells.
He also climbs up her balcony and gives her lavish gifts, which makes our girl start to question if her prince really loves her or if he is under a love spell.
Jacks does confirm that Apollo is under a curse, but he informs Evangeline that if she breaks off the wedding, Apollo will be brokenhearted forever.
The only way to set Apollo free is to go along with Jacks’ plan, and he agrees that he will free Apollo from his infatuation. Jacks takes Evangeline to the home of the Fortuna Matriarch, who will be her second kiss.
She doesn’t open mouth kiss this random old lady or anything; she just kisses her on the cheek after Jacks uses his blood on her lips for the second time.
Once she kisses her cheek, the Matriarch turns from hostile to adoring Evangeline and takes her and Jacks on a tour of the vault of her palace.
Once in the vault, we see the secret arch that the Matriarch is illegally hiding. We learn that with the end of the rule of The Valors, the arches were banned due to hosting too much power.
After passing through the arch, the Matriarch’s spell begins to break, and she spouts some line of prophecy at Jacks and Evangeline.
“You will know her because she will be crowned in rose gold. She will be both peasant and princess.”
She proceeds to freak the freakout and tells Evangeline that she cannot marry the prince and open the Valory Arch.
Evangeline and Jacks duck out of there as quickly as possible, and Evangeline fears that Jacks is using her to open this Arch, which she knows nothing about.
Once she is back in Apollo’s palace, she tries to learn about the Arches and the Valors, but all of their histories are locked with the prophecy.
The wedding is approaching quickly, and rumors of conflict between Apollo and his brother Tiberius are stirring, along with rumors of Apollo’s strong feelings for Evangeline being a little too strong.
Evangeline and Apollo are wed, and it’s all a blur to Evangeline. At her wedding reception, she meets up with Jacks and as promised he gives her more of his blood to “break the spell”. This time, Jacks’ blood does not taste sweet but bitter.
She meets Apollo in the wedding suite, where he has sufficiently oiled himself up. Evangeline takes a sip of some salty wine to calm her nerves (also underage drinking much?!?!?!?), and as she kisses Apollo, he DIES!
As she shouts for help, she begins to sob uncontrollably. She’s accused of killing the prince and taken away. Jacks comes to find her and uses his magic powers to control the guards to get Evangeline out of Wolf Hall.
She now knows that Jacks’ powers are not limited to his kisses, and he also informs her that she has been poisoned and her uncontrollable tears will kill her if she does not go with him to get help.
Jacks takes her to the home of Lala, who is revealed to also be a Fate…like, the Fate, The Unwed Bride.
Her tears are poisonous, and someone poisoned the wine with one of Lala’s tears, but she is able to save Evangeline after a night of sleeping in Jacks’ arms.
Once recovered, Evangeline agrees to team up with Jacks to find out who truly killed Apollo and clear her name. Jacks goes with Evangeline to meet with another Fate, Chaos.
Once Upon A Broken Heart Summary – Part 3
So, Chaos is not only a Fate but also a vampire. Are there vampires in this world?
Anywho, Jacks knows that Chaos will have information on where the poison that killed Apollo came from. He warns Evangeline that vampires are no joke and not to look into their eyes as it is an invitation to bite!
While they are visiting with the vampire Fate, they see that there is a party of vampires and humans.
They witness the vampires biting the humans, turning them into vampires if the recently bitten vampire can find human blood to drink before dawn.
Evangeline and Jacks retreat quickly in hopes of not getting bitten by any of the vampire fledglings.
As they flee the vampire palace, Evangeline is stopped by a caged Luc…who is now a vampire fledgling!
Jacks tries to pull Evangeline away, telling her that Luc will tell her anything to free himself of his cage and drink her blood, but she cannot help but stop and listen to her first love.
He tells Evangeline that he was under a curse, and that is why he agreed to marry her stepsister but that it was not her stepmother who cursed him but, in fact, Marisol.
It was also Marisol who ended things with Luc after his wolf attack and not the other way around as she claimed, which led him to the North to seek vampire blood, the only cure for his uggo scars.
Evangeline, being the big dumb dumb baby she is, frees Luc from his caged. He immediately tries to bite her, just as Jacks said he would. Jacks put himself between Luc and Evangeline and snaps his neck…but not before Luc bites Jacks.
Jacks and Evangeline flee the palace. As they’re leaving, Jacks tells Evangeline to stop looking at him. She realizes that the bite that Luc used on him was a venomous one and that Jacks will turn into a vampire if he bites Evangeline.
She knows that Jacks hates vampires and would hate to turn into one, so she leads him to a gate and traps him on the other side of it.
We FINALLY get some good Jacks and Evangeline banter, which, if you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for during the whole book.
Both Jacks and Evangeline confide in one another; Evangeline tries to distract Jacks till the sun rises and he will be free of his vampire potential.
However, Evangeline takes it too far, giving him a hard time about his past with Donatella, which leads Jacks to break the lock of the gate separating them.
Jacks move closer to Evangeline, holding her and licking her neck. She gets caught up in the moment, but Jacks wants BLOOD!
She snaps Jacks out of his vampire state by reminding him what he truly wants is not her, not blood, but to open the Valory Arch.
This causes Jacks to pause, and then the sun comes up! They’ve survived the night, and neither of them turned into vampires.
Jacks and Evangeline begin their journey home, and Jacks becomes mad and also tired, and then he falls asleep.
Evangeline worries it is a side effect from the vampire venom and drags him back to the city, where she comes across a door that opens for her.
She places sleepy Jacks on the couch and begins to look through the belongings of the home.
She finds a gossip sheet and is shocked to read that Marisol is to be married to Tiberius and that their wedding is today! She believes that Marisol has once again used a love spell.
Evangeline knows that the only way to clear her name and reveal the truth of her stepsister (who she believes at this point framed her for murder) is to find an antidote to the love spell and use it on Tiberius.
Evangeline rummages through the contents of the bookcases and the desks and quickly realizes that the home they’re in belongs to Jacks.
She finds the cookbook of spells on his shelf and also some grass-flavored soda. She drinks it, and then she makes the antidote of the love spell.
Jacks is STILL asleep, so she leaves him and sets off to Wolf Hall to stop a wedding. She runs into Marisol when she arrives at the palace and confronts her stepsister about Luc.
Marisol admits that she cursed Luc but that she didn’t mean for him to get hurt and that she was sorry that she hurt Evangeline in the process.
She tells Evangeline that she did not frame her for the death of Apollo and that she only had bought spell books to try to find an antidote for Luc.
Evangeline feels like it’s her turn to confess to Marisol that she prayed to Fate to stop her first wedding. As soon as Marisol hears this, she’s furious with her sister and alerts the guards that Evangeline is in the palace and to seize her.
Tiberius himself takes Evangeline for questioning, and Evangeline realizes that he has no intention of letting her leave alive.
Tiberius sees the soda that Evangeline had placed in the room that is laced with the antidote and drinks it resulting in him being unable to lie.
The truth comes out about Tiberius, and he reveals that he is a Member of the Protectorate, a group of people whose mission is to keep the Valory Arch closed and the power of the Valors locked away.
As soon as Tiberius met Evangeline, he knew that she was the girl the Valory Arch prophecy was about, and he tried to kill her to keep the Arch from opening. He intended the poison for her and not his brother, who he believes he killed.
Evangeline’s name is cleared, and she is restored to her princess status with the true “killer” of Apollo coming to light. She has a big fat crush on Jacks, who is finally awake and looking for her.
The book ends with Evangeline being taken to a castle wing where she meets Phaedra, who tells her that Apollo is not dead, just cursed and asleep.
Evangeline realizes that Jacks betrayed and used her to open the Arch and that he is not her friend as she was beginning to feel.
And the book ends! We are left on such a cliffhanger!
What will happen now that the Valory Arch is opening? What is the Valory Arch? Will Jacks and Evangeline ever make out? What is going on?!?!?!
All questions I hate to be asking because I honestly didn’t plan on reading the sequel to this book till the last 50 or so pages.
Once Upon A Broken Heart – My Honest Thoughts
This book was a bit of a hot mess for me. The plot felt very rushed, especially in the last hundred pages. I also felt as though most of the conflict in this book has such convenient resolutions. Overall, I was very unsatisfied.
There were also lots of conflicts that were never really explained; for example, why was Jacks so tired? And why was he asleep for SO long?
Part 1 of this book felt very immature to me. Listen, I’m an adult who loves to read YA books, but there was something about the pink hair and the cupcakes that was just a little too much for me.
ALSO when they played “kissing chess”, my soul left my body and I went into a different dimension of second-hand embarrassment.
“‘Is there a winner to the game, or is it just an excuse to make people kiss?’ asked Evangeline. ‘Does it matter? It’s kissing…‘ Lala finished.”
It’s all a bit much, but Paisley as a freshman in highschool would have probaby ate this up, so I’ll give kissing chess a pass just this once.
Fingers crossed that A Ballad of Never Afters has no board games that include kissing, unless it’s a steamy scene between Evangeline and Jacks hehehehe
Another complaint I have about this story is that only one of the two kisses were a real kiss, because the second was with an old lady!
It just felt lazy to me. Also, though I do love vampires, the introduction of vampires in this world gave me whiplash.
It was so quickly introduced, and I feel as if there was almost no point in Jacks and Evangeline visiting Chaos other than running into Luc.
There may have been more development of the world in the Caraval series (which, I guess, is my fault for not reading first).
However, this book is marketed as a standalone from the Caraval series, so the world should speak for itself in each book.
There were things I did enjoy about this book: the lighthearted fun tone of this book was enticing to me and I do love the bad boy-ness of Jacks.
Evangeline towards the end of the book became more likeable to me, but this girl could not pass the Bechdel test by any means. I hope that in the sequel that she has more desires for herself other than kissing a boy.
Evangeline’s guilt over betraying Marisol hung over the plot throughout the whole book, but because Marisol had committed her own (maybe worse) betrayal Evangeline has little to no consequences for her actions.
I also found it a bit disappointing that Marisol turned out to be a jealous witch like everyone accused her of. I preferred the sister relationship over two girls being jealous and callous towards each other.
I am such a sucker for enemies-to-lovers that I probably will pick up the sequel to this book. I’m kinda here for the Jacks and Evangeline romance, and that third kiss better be Jacks himself!
As much as I may have sounded like a hater with my complaints about this book, the betrayal at the ending really did leave me wanting more. And I guess that more is A Ballad of Never After!
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