Title: The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart #2)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: September 13, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
The fiercely-anticipated sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller Once Upon a Broken Heart, starring Evangeline Fox and the Prince of Hearts on a new journey of magic, mystery, and heartbreak.
Not every love is meant to be.
After Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, betrays her, Evangeline Fox swears she’ll never trust him again. Now that she’s discovered her own magic, Evangeline believes she can use it to restore the chance at happily ever after that Jacks stole away.
But when a new terrifying curse is revealed, Evangeline finds herself entering into a tenuous partnership with the Prince of Hearts again. Only this time, the rules have changed. Jacks isn’t the only force Evangeline needs to be wary of. In fact, he might be the only one she can trust, despite her desire to despise him.
Instead of a love spell wreaking havoc on Evangeline’s life, a murderous spell has been cast. To break it, Evangeline and Jacks will have to do battle with old friends, new foes, and a magic that plays with heads and hearts. Evangeline has always trusted her heart, but this time she’s not sure she can. . . .
Hi there! This is a review for the sequel to Once Upon a Broken Heart, so there may be slight spoilers within this review. Please read with caution if you have not read Once Upon a Broken Heart. You can read my review for Once Upon a Broken Heart here.
Dislcaimer: Any quotes mentioned may not be in the final product. I was provided an ARC of The Ballad of Never After in exchange for an honest review.
“‘No, Jacks. You can’t go around murdering people because they’re a problem.'”
Every Stephanie Garber book I read is magic itself. When I read the Caraval trilogy, every page was brimming with magic, almost as if it was begging to be released. When I read Once Upon a Broken Heart, I had the same feeling of magic and love and heartache. Now, as I have finished reading The Ballad of Never After, I can say I have felt all those same emotions, but on a higher level.
The Ballad of Never After is the sequel every reader hopes for. This is easily the best sequel I have read in years, and easily one of my favorite reads of 2022 (who are we kidding, it’s my #1 read of 2022). If you thought Once Upon a Broken Heart was a ride, well, buckle up, because The Ballad of Never After is filled with more action, longing, heartache, and a dash of forbidden romance.
“In a world where there was Fates and magic and curses and prophecies, Evangeline couldn’t help but believe there was also the potential for everyone to find a happily ever after.”
Evangeline is still mostly the girl she was from Once Upon a Broken Heart: a girl who only wishes for her happily ever after. But, of course, she has changed and matured slightly from the events of OUABH. Even so, she desires that happily ever after more than anything, but that ending is not as easy to obtain as Evangeline had hoped. Not to mention she has a certain Fate she’s subsequently stuck with: Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. In Evangeline’s eyes, Jacks only wants one thing from her: for her to open the Valory Arch. But like any good hero, Evangeline hopes that Jacks is not the Fate he’s depicted and that he actually cares for her on some level. Hope is a powerful thing, as many of us have learned, but sometimes that hope can overshadow the true nature of a character. And in this case, Evangeline may be hoping too much for Jacks.
Even with that said, Jacks is one of the best characters in The Ballad of Never After. I have always loved Jacks, but TBONA will easily make anyone fall in love with Jacks. There’s scenes where you learn more about Jacks, experience his emotions and sorrows, and scenes where his dark nature comes to light. He is a Fate and he doesn’t let Evangeline forget that. His alluring nature easily ensnares many, and sometimes, he doesn’t let them go (including us readers). I devoured every scene with Jacks, and I could not get enough of him. I would honestly freak out if we were given a full length novel from Jacks’s perspective.
I don’t think I will ever tire of Stephanie’s writing. As many people know, Stephanie Garber is my all-time favorite author, and anyone who reads her books will understand why. Stephanie has a way with creating worlds that sparkle and glimmer and breathe magic. Everything about her books are enchanting and magical, and remind me just how much I love reading and getting lost in a book. The world of Once Upon a Broken Heart is widened in The Ballad of Never After, with more captivating places revealed. Not only is Stephanie fantastic at bringing a world to life, she’s also a magnificent story teller. She brilliantly reveals secrets and twists at the perfect moments, which always left me craving more of this story. It was so difficult for me to put this book down. Ever since I’ve finished The Ballad of Never After, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the story. Everything about this book was just amazing and perfect and magical.
Without a doubt, The Ballad of Never After is the follow-up I was hoping for and so much more. There’s not enough words that can sum up my feelings for this book. I wish I could read this book for the first time again, just to experience all those emotions. If you read Once Upon a Broken Heart, then prepare your heart because you will be taken on a ride that will test your emotions and loyalty to certain characters.
My quick blurb: The Ballad of Never After is a heart-wrenching and magical tale filled with every emotion. An enchanting continuation of Evangeline’s journey for a happily ever after, and a story where you can’t help but root for the villain.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars (But really, we all know it’s 100 out of 5 stars)