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REVIEW: ‘Of Curses and Kisses’ by Sandhya Menon is a modern re-telling of a classic fairytale

Sandhya Menon explores the well-loved story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in her latest YA contemporary.
 

Of Curses and Kisses is an entertaining story that delves deep into the lives of elite school students.

The blurb:

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya's little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she'll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya's annoyance, Grey's brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There's simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending... right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he's doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta's International Academy, he's lived an isolated existence - until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can't shake the feeling that she's hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck...

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it's possible to write your own happy ending.

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales. When I heard that Sandhya Menon was writing a modern re-telling of it I was extremely excited. I’ve always been a fan of her writing as her stories feel like a breath of fresh air. Of Curses and Kisses is another great book from her but sadly it felt lacking.

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Jaya Rao and her sister, Isha, transfer to a new school to get a fresh start from the scandalous rumors that surround Isha at home. Everything runs smoothly as they begin their classes until it’s revealed that Jaya is hiding a secret from her sister. And the truth behind why they landed at St. Rosetta’s International Academy instead of a school closer to home lies with Grey Emerson. The guy Jaya is determined to break.

It was hard to fall in love with these characters at first because many of them felt like the typical elite students constantly found in YA contemporaries. Jaya is a strong willed person who has her whole life planned out as the heiress in the Rao family. Grey is brooding and hard to read at first, but one thing is for certain: he isn’t looking for anyone to enter his life — especially Jaya.

I had a hard time loving either of their characters but their individual development eventually made me hope for their happily-ever-after. They clash in a fun way and I think that made the book very enjoyable. Just like in Beauty and the Beast, Jaya and Grey compliment each other and there are some sweet moments between the two.

As the story progresses, it moves along quite slowly and the pacing always felt off. We do get to know and understand the characters better, though. There’s more than meets the eye and having this book set at an elite school was a great choice. There’s a lot of drama between these groups of friends and although they did fit stereotypical roles, I liked the way Sandhya Menon added a unique trait to everyone.

Overall, I enjoyed Of Curses and Kisses. It was a sweet, easy read and perfect for fans who have loved Sandhya Menon’s past books. The story blends what we already love about Beauty and the Beast while adding new things to make it its own.

3
A sweet but lacking story.
Plot
Characters
Writing
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Full of diverse characters and inspired by Beauty and the Beast, readers are sure to be drawn to Sandhya Menon’s latest contemporary release. There’s a great cast of characters but unfortunately the overall pacing of the story felt odd. This isn’t to say Sandhya Menon’s writing wasn’t fantastic because it was. I enjoyed the deeper exploration of a well-loved tale. Of Curses and Kisses is a sweet coming-of-age story that fell short on leaving a deep impression on me.