The Ballad of Never After is the sequel to Stephanie Garber’s Once Upon A Broken Heart, and it picks up right by where the first book left off. This second instalment dives deeper into the story around the Valory Arch and opening it. It also introduces a series of revelations that turn the story on its head. I liked this second instalment because we get to know a lot about what’s happening, a lot was revealed as well as a lot of clues so we’re able to follow the story and discover what we need to discover along the story, based on the intrigue and suspense set up from book one especially all the fuss around the Valory arc and why they want Evangeline to open it.
The Ballad of Never After (Once Upon a Broken Heart) Blurb
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
Stephanie Garber’s THE BALLAD OF NEVER AFTER is the jaw-dropping sequel to the 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. . . .
The Ballad of Never After Review
I loved The Ballad of Never After. The second instalment is probably my favourite book in the entire series. Here the characters are mostly fleshed out and the stakes are higher.
It picks up right after the events of the first book – Once Upon a Broken Heart. Evangeline is on a journey desperate to cure her prince from his magically induced coma, most of the world believes him to be dead. She is desperate to find a cure even making another deal with Jacks. The book is dwelved into the story right from the start and is so interesting, it’s hard to put donn once you start.
What I loved the most were the clues, there were so many clues and anecdotes so most of it didn’t feel like an info dump which I loved as it allowed for a certain depth with the characters and stories.
To be honest Evangeline doesn’t have much of a character development in this book but she’s thrown more into situations that are eye opening and help her to make certain decisions not like they are still better than her earlier decisions with little knowledge.
However, for a second book, this was so interesting and didn’t suffer from second book syndrome at all. And that ending, beautiful.
If you haven’t read the book, Stop here now
The Ballad of Never After Spoiler Review
So, do Evangeline and Jacks open the Valory Arch? Yes, Evangeline does indeed open the Valory Arch at the end of this book. The whole build up from book one with the kisses and deals with Jacks all lead to this moment.
Evangeline finds out that her husband Apollo is, in fact, alive and was just cursed by Jacks and is in a magically induced coma and she’s trying to break the spell. However, it appears that Apollo is under a second curse! A mirror curse placed between Evangeline and Apollo is discovered when a knife is run along Apollo’s arm, and the same cut appears on Evangeline’s arm.
This basically means that any harm brought to Apollo will also affect Evangeline, and vice versa. But with a twist, Apollo is under the Archer curse also known as the curse of The Hunter and the Fox. And Apollo has to hunt and kill Evangeline as he can’t rest until he has done so.
This leads Evangeline and Jacks on a journey to open the Valory Arch to try to put an end to all these curses and spells. Since Jacks agrees to help lift the curse if she opens the Valory Arch by finding the four stones which act as keys to unlocking it.
The Four Stones
The four stones are mirth, truth, luck, and youth.
The Merry Wood Three
We also find out that the Merrywood Three are Prince Castor Valor (Chaos), Lyric Merrywood, and The Archer. Evangeline initially believes the archer was the original Archer from the ballad of the Archer and the Fox and doesn’t link it to Jacks early enough. She just assumes Jacks is one of these three but is not sure which one until the end of the book, where she finds out that Jacks, before becoming a Fate, was, in fact, The Archer!
Another plot twist was us finding out with Evangeline that she wasn’t the first pink-haired girl to fulfil the prophecy and have the magic powers of being a human key. The first key had faked her death and kept her self young and alive with the youth stone after she had found it.
What Is Inside the Valory Arch?
What’s inside the Valory Arch? Well, it turns out that The Valory Arch holds both truths and surprises. It serves as a prison and, shockingly, contains the Valor family themselves, not dead but locked away inside the Arch! Here, it is revealed that Chaos is Castor Valor, revealing the main reason why Castor wanted to open the Arch.
Why Did Jacks want to open the arch?
The four stones, when put together, have the power to send someone back in time to any desired point. However, this can be done only once, and then the stones lose this power. Jacks wishes to go back to when he met Donatella so he can have a chance at true love since she apparently survived his kiss but ended up choosing Legend.
This means that he and Evangeline won’t have had the journey they had. Chaos might have eventually ended up opening the Arch, but it’ll happen without Jack being a main character in the story.
But Evangeline decides she can stop this and break the curse with the power of love and follows Chaos into the Valory Arch.
However, Castor/Chaos has his helm removed from his face, and he is overcome by an overwhelming urge to feed and drains Evangeline’s blood from her body! Jacks appears too late and takes Evangeline into his arms but she is dead…
Kind of, that’s the end of that timeline. Jacks ends up using the stones to go back in time to change Evangeline’s fate so she doesn’t die this time around. He goes in with Castor rather than leaving them to go alone without him as they did the first time.
He tells Evangeline that she must leave as soon as the Arch is open and implies that Chaos will feed on her if she doesn’t.
This time around, she leaves immediately; however, on her way out, she runs into her husband Prince Apollo who has had all the curses and spells put on him broken. He then proceeds to steal her memories, and the book ends with Evangeline with no memories, and Apollo telling her he’s her husband and she’s now safe. He’s taken her memories, so she remembers nothing.
I really loved this, and it’s my favorite in the trilogy. I waited for the 3rd book to be released before I read the series, so it was an enjoyable experience, and I didn’t have to wait a long time to dive into the next book.