Parents' Guide to

The Ballad of Never After: Once Upon a Broken Heart, Book 2

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Damsel-in-distress tale lacks appeal of author's "Caraval."

The Ballad of Never After: Once Upon a Broken Heart, Book 2

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

great book read it

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (6 ):

This fantasy-romance is lacking character appeal and exciting world building and overstuffed with damsel-in-distress moments. To build the romantic storyline, The Ballad of Never After actually relies completely on action scenes where the main character, Evangeline, almost dies and Jacks, the hot but emotionally distant immortal, must swoop in to save her and then tells her what to do -- hide out here, run away here, don't go here. Instead of propelling the reader forward toward new revelations about the characters, it keeps the pair in a destructive pattern you wouldn't want for anyone's relationship. It doesn't matter how well Jacks dresses or leans into a wall with a smoldering glance, he needs to open up already. Evangeline gives up power to him again and again, even though she's the one with the power to open the arch or not and the one who can sense the magic stones she must gather.

On the world-building front, The Ballad of Never After is a disappointment. After the Caraval Trilogy that brings us to this series, we know what author Stephanie Garber is capable of. The mysteries just aren't as thrilling or twisty-turny or as carefully plotted out. There's an archway with unknown magic on the other side and magic stones to find before the door will open. There are curses, on Evangeline's prince and also one about storytelling and houses of power at war with themselves. There's even a baby dragon that just shows up for breakfast, hangs out, goes away. It all feels like filler until the next damsel-in-distress emergency. If only more of the immortal Fates entered the story and more of their secrets were revealed. If only the engagement party at the house full of weaponry had a bit more intrigue, a few more colorful characters, and didn't focus so heavily on Evangeline's jealousy or ball gowns. Let's just start with the dragon. Maybe it's important to the sequel and will help fly the series in a better direction.

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