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Once Upon a Broken Heart Summary, Characters and Themes

Once Upon a Broken Heart is the first book in a young adult fantasy series by Stephanie Garber. 

It follows Evangeline Fox, a believer in true love, who makes a deal with the Prince of Hearts, Jacks, to stop the wedding of her love. In exchange for his help, Jacks demands three kisses from Evangeline. The story unfolds in a world of magic, curses, and romance, where Evangeline discovers that love and fate can take unexpected turns.

Summary

Evangeline Fox, heartbroken by her stepsister’s upcoming wedding to her true love, Luc, seeks the help of Jacks, the Prince of Hearts. Jacks agrees to help in exchange for three kisses from Evangeline. 

When Evangeline returns home, she finds the wedding party turned to stone and sacrifices herself to save them.

Weeks later, Evangeline is revived, hailed as a hero for inspiring resistance against the Fates who escaped their prison. 

Luc has vanished, and Marisol faces social ostracization. Evangeline receives an invitation from the new royals to represent them at Nocte Neverending, a ball to choose the crown prince’s bride.

In the North, Evangeline encounters Jacks, who commands her to kiss the prince, causing the prince to fall deeply in love with her. 

Troubled by the prince’s obsession, Evangeline confronts Jacks, who allows her to use her third kiss to undo the spell on the prince, but only after using her second kiss on a matriarch who reveals a prophecy seemingly about Evangeline.

The prophecy foretells Evangeline opening the Valory Arch, rumored to hold great power, and Jacks confesses to manipulating Evangeline, believing her to be the girl in the prophecy. Evangeline uses her third kiss on the prince, resulting in his death. Jacks rescues her, and they visit Chaos, a vampire who hints at a recent visitor seeking poison ingredients.

Evangeline and Jacks are then attacked by changelings, including Luc, who reveals Marisol’s love spell before trying to bite Evangeline. Jacks takes the bite, and they barely escape.

Exhausted from his vampire cravings, Jacks is taken to his apartment by Evangeline, where she learns of Marisol’s new engagement to the dead prince’s brother. Suspecting Marisol of murder, Evangeline creates a truth potion and heads to the palace.

At the palace, Marisol manipulates Evangeline into revealing the deal with Jacks, leading to a confrontation and Evangeline’s capture. Brought before the prince, Evangeline forces him to drink the truth potion, exposing his fratricide and breaking the love spell. Evangeline is reinstated as the ruling princess.

However, Evangeline is led to the old prince, alive but unconscious, revealing Jacks’s manipulation and deceit. Determined not to trust Jacks and to awaken the prince, Evangeline vows to keep the Valory Arch closed to him.

Once upon a broken heart summary

Characters

Evangeline Fox

Evangeline Fox is the protagonist of Once Upon a Broken Heart. 

She is a passionate and impulsive young woman driven by her belief in true love. Her heartbreak over Luc’s upcoming wedding clouds her judgment, leading her to make a reckless deal with Jacks. 

Despite her naivety, Evangeline demonstrates courage and selflessness throughout the story. She sacrifices herself to save the wedding party and inspires others to resist the Fates. 

As she recovers and gains experience, Evangeline sheds some of her innocence and develops a capacity for critical thinking. However, her trust can be easily misplaced, as seen in her interactions with Marisol and Jacks.

Jacks

Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, is a complex and enigmatic figure. 

He is mischievous and manipulative, often appearing to take pleasure in Evangeline’s misfortune. His motives remain shrouded in mystery for much of the story. It is eventually revealed that Jacks believes Evangeline is the key to a prophecy and uses her for his own purposes. 

Despite his manipulative nature, Jacks demonstrates a degree of protectiveness towards Evangeline, rescuing her from danger on several occasions. 

The reader is left to question whether Jacks has any genuine feelings for Evangeline or if she is simply a pawn in his game.

Marisol

Marisol, Evangeline’s stepsister, is portrayed in a negative light throughout most of the story. She is perceived as manipulative and deceitful, using a love spell to win Luc’s affection. 

However, as the story unfolds, Marisol’s actions become more nuanced. It is revealed that she feels ostracized and unseen, and her desperation for love and acceptance may explain her choices. 

While Marisol’s actions are not excusable, the reader gains a deeper understanding of her motivations.

Luc

Luc, the object of Evangeline’s affection, is a less developed character. 

He is initially presented as the charming and loving fiancĂ© Evangeline believes him to be. However, his true character is called into question when he disappears after the wedding party’s transformation. 

The revelation that he was under a love spell casts doubt on the sincerity of his feelings for Evangeline. Luc’s ultimate fate remains unclear, leaving the reader to wonder if he can be redeemed.

Themes

Deception and Manipulation

One prominent theme in the novel is deception and manipulation. 

Jacks, the Prince of Hearts, is a master manipulator who uses Evangeline’s desperation for her own ends. He convinces her to make a deal, promising to help her win back Luc, but his true motives lie in fulfilling an ancient prophecy. 

Jacks orchestrates events throughout the novel, controlling Evangeline’s actions through her kisses and exploiting her trust. 

Even Marisol, Evangeline’s stepsister, engages in deception, using a love spell on Luc and manipulating Evangeline’s emotions for her own gain. The novel highlights the dangers of trusting blindly and the devastating consequences of manipulation.

Love and Sacrifice

Love and sacrifice are interwoven throughout the narrative. 

Evangeline’s unwavering belief in true love motivates her actions, driving her to seek Jacks’s help and endure hardship. 

She sacrifices herself to save the wedding party, showcasing her selfless love. However, the concept of love is challenged as the story progresses. 

The love spell cast by Marisol and the prince’s obsessive infatuation question the nature of true love. Evangeline’s journey compels readers to consider the complexities of love and the sacrifices one might make for it.

Fate and Free Will

Fate and free will are central themes in the novel. 

Evangeline’s initial belief in a predetermined fate, fueled by her desire for true love with Luc, sets the narrative in motion. She seeks Jacks’s help, believing he can alter her fate. However, the characters’ actions throughout the novel challenge the notion of a fixed destiny. 

Evangeline’s choices, such as sacrificing herself and using the kisses, demonstrate her agency in shaping her own path. Jacks’s manipulation and the revelation of the prophecy raise questions about the extent of free will. 

The novel explores the tension between fate and free will, suggesting that characters possess some control over their destinies while being influenced by external forces.

Identity and Self-Discovery

Evangeline’s journey in the novel is one of self-discovery. 

Initially defined by her heartbreak and love for Luc, she is forced to confront her vulnerabilities and desires as she navigates a world of magic and deceit. 

Through her interactions with Jacks and Marisol, Evangeline begins to question her assumptions about love and loyalty. The challenges she faces lead her to develop resilience and independence. 

By the end of the novel, Evangeline embraces a stronger sense of self, no longer solely reliant on the idea of romantic love for her identity.

Final Thoughts

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a captivating tale that blends fantasy and romance with surprising twists and turns. 

Evangeline’s journey through heartbreak, self-discovery, and manipulation is both engaging and thought-provoking. While the story plays with familiar fairy tale tropes, it offers a fresh perspective on love, fate, and the power of choice.