[ARC Review] Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Image result for of curses and kisses cover

rating: ☾ ☾ ☾ ☾ {4/5}
publication date: february 18, 2020
rep: Indian main character & side characters
age range: teen (13+)
(Note: eARC was provided by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

summary: 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?

“Don’t you find it . . . stifling to have your entire life mapped out according to someone else’s plans? Don’t you want to define for yourself who you are rather than just taking someone else’s word for granted?”

Initial Thoughts

Happy Valentines Day Friends! In a rare act of courage, I have decided to read & review a romance novel! *camera cuts to a picture of all the unread fantasy books on my shelf* It was a rough start for me but just like in the story, opposites attract and I fell in love with this story.

Initially I was hesitant when starting this book because the writing style was a little rough in a few places and one of the main characters was incredible self-centered at first. However, I decided to keep reading and see if anything changed as it continued. Let me tell you, the development these characters undergo is phenomenal. Once I realized that the big theme of the book was centered on change, I enjoyed reading the book a lot more.

Plot (1/1)

This was actually one of my favorite retellings of Beauty and the Beast, for several reasons. It stayed close enough to the original story and it’s values but the author added her own touches to the story that made it unique. With fairytale retellings, there’s the copycats a la Beastly that barely change much of the story at all and just use a modern setting but then there are others like A Court of Thorns and Roses that have some vague similarities but really just veer into their own plot. Of Curses and Kisses is that perfect middle ground because the storyline feels incredibly similar, but interactions and setting are changed just enough that the story could stand on its own as just a regular romance novel and not a retelling. Also, I loved that no kidnapping or hostage holding had to happen in order for the characters to spend time together and talk.

Writing Style (0.5/1)

This was honestly the part of the book I struggled with the most. The writing style felt awkward and the conversations occasionally felt stilted. There were descriptions and metaphors used in the book that just didn’t fit the tone of the book and threw me off. Whenever I would get absorbed in a good scene something would just pop up and break my focus because it was so out of place in the scene. Since this was my biggest criticism of the book itself, this could also just be attributed to my personal preferences in writing styles I enjoy. 

Setting (1/1)

I greatly enjoyed the private school setting. It lent a lot more intimacy for the story events and helped keep the plot and characters moving, since most story events happened during school activities. The setting was also a convenient aspect of the story because the school is small enough that the two main characters couldn’t avoid each other, so the main characters are constantly interacting for some reason or another and I LOVED it.

Characters (.5/1)

I genuinely enjoyed both characters, despite being extremely skeptical of them at the beginning. Originally I disliked Jaya’s character because she was stern and mean, I remember thinking that if she didn’t figure her stuff out, she would drag the story down. However, she shows SO much growth throughout the story, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. When Grey was introduced the writing felt awkward and his description of his outfit made me think, “Oh god this man is actually feral.” Regardless of his introduction, Grey quickly won me over with his sweet heart and brutal honesty. Also, I enjoyed that instead of having a rude love interest who treats the girl like crap, Grey was respectful and kind-hearted. The biggest change his character underwent was with his confidence in himself and that character growth was *chef kiss on hand* beautiful.
The side characters were the main weak spot because the side plot happening between some of them was incredibly annoying. I will never enjoy cheating as a plot device, it just creates a lot of useless drama and makes me dislike characters that I might have been interested in. I will say, there is a mean girl character in the story and she got a great character arc. I am on my knees BEGGING Sandhya Menon to write her next book about this character.

Theme: Change but for the Better (1/1)

My favorite part of the book is that both characters are better around each other and they recognize this and then work doubly hard to be better. I’m a sucker for couples who push each other to be the best possible version of themselves. At the beginning, both of them are technically “the beast” since they’re both self-centered, but as they spend time with each other they both become the best versions of themselves. This concept of both characters changing for the better is one reason why I think this retelling works so well. In the original tale, it’s just the Beast changing himself to be better for the princess. In this story, both characters help each other acknowledge their flaws and work to be better.


Retellings so often focus on putting these clever twists on classic stories but they don’t always focus on creating genuinely wholesome improvements to the story overall. Of Curses and Kisses takes the wholesomeness of the original Beauty and the Beast story and improves it in the best way possible.

6 thoughts on “[ARC Review] Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

  1. great review! of curses and kisses is a book i’ve been dying to get my hands on for a while now, and your review just increased that need 😂. also, i loved what you said about the characters working to be better versions of themselves to make their relationship work and i think its such an important theme i’ll like to see more of. also i just realised i wasn’t following your blog. like how?! 🤦🏽

    Liked by 1 person

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