Exclusive Cover Reveal + Interview: The Ballad of Never After Delves Deeper Into Once Upon a Broken Heart’s World

Books Features Stephanie Garber
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Exclusive Cover Reveal + Interview: <i>The Ballad of Never After</i> Delves Deeper Into <i>Once Upon a Broken Heart&#8217;s</i> World

Following up a beloved trilogy like the New York Times bestselling Caraval series is never an easy task. Setting your next book series in the same universe is an even more daunting prospect, as it’s almost impossible to believe that the two won’t draw immediate comparisons to one another. But author Stephanie Garber deftly threads that challenging needle in her Caraval follow-up Once Upon a Broken Heart, crafting a compelling new tale that takes place in the same world of Fates and magic, but that manages to feel like something entirely brand new.

A delightful confectionary mix of magic, whimsy, adventure, and, yes, more than a few broken hearts, the story follows Evangeline Fox, a hopeless romantic who makes a deal with a Fate to stop the love of her life (whom she believes to be under a curse) from marrying her stepsister.

But as is often the case when making bargains with immortals, unintended consequences ensue, of the sort that will take Evangline to her dead mother’s icy Northern homeland and force her to work with Jacks, the tragic, broody Prince of Hearts who’s either recovering from heartbreak, plotting a devious trick, or something in between depending on how you read his character.

Its sequel, The Ballad of Never After, will pick up immediately following the shocking events at the end of the first book, as Evangeline reels from a deeply personal betrayal and tries to figure out whether she’ll ever truly have a chance at a happily ever after.

Here’s the official description from the publisher:


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 highly anticipated sequel will hit shelves on September 13 and we have not only an exclusive reveal of the (extremely gorgeous!) cover below, but a quick chat with Stephanie Garber herself, who gives us some fabulous hints about what to expect in this next chapter of Evangeline’s journey.

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Paste: What can readers expect from The Ballad of Never After? A bigger story? A broader world? More romance? All of the above?

Stephanie Garber: I think of Ballad as a continuation of the tale that started in Broken Heart. I don’t see it as a bigger story so much as I see it as diving into a deeper level of the story that we’ve already begun.

In Ballad, we find out more about our characters, more about the world, and as far as romance goes . . . let’s just say that if Ballad were to have a warning label on the back, it might read something like: Caution: this book contains, bloodshed, love, and heartbreak. Enter this story at your own risk. Happily Ever Afters are not guaranteed.

Paste: How would you describe the differences between this series and your Caraval trilogy, as stories?

Garber: Caraval is a book that I hoped would feel like a game. I wanted readers to feel like players, lost in a world made of gem-bright colors and sugar-sweetened air. I wanted everything to be big and bright and over the top. And I wanted it to be tricky—I really wanted readers to feel as if they’d figured everything out, only to find that they’d been played just like the characters in the story.

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a wounded fairytale saga where all the characters are searching for love and some of them are willing to fight much dirtier than others. My hope for this series is that readers will feel as if they should be telling my main character to run away, to make the smart choices, but instead they find themselves rooting for reckless love, dangerous kisses and romances that are highly unlikely to end very well.

Paste: One of the things that really helps set this series apart from Caraval for me is its setting and the sense that it’s really expanding that world of that series in new ways. Will we explore more of that—whether it means the history of the Magnificent North or the specifics of the Fates’ relationships—- in The Ballad of Never After?

Garber: I love that you asked this question—I am obsessed with setting and I am in love with the history of the Magnificent North. I tried not to get too carried away with the backstory in this book, but readers will definitely learn more about the North, the Valors, and they might even get to learn about Jacks’s past.

And they will definitely get to experience new places in this book. In fact, I just saw the map we commissioned for Ballad and I am so excited to share it with everyone. There’s one very magical place readers will get to visit, and hopefully they’ll want to stay there forever.

Paste: I have to ask about Jacks. Can you tease a little bit about what his journey will be like in this sequel? (And whether we might see some real romance with Evangeline—-just imagine a heart eyes emoji here!)

Garber: This is such a fun question. I love Jacks and I love romance, especially Jacks’s slightly twisted brand of romance. Unfortunately, I’m going to be the worst and tell you that you’re going to have to read the book to find the answer to this one . . .

Paste: What are you most excited for readers to see/experience in this book?

Garber: The ending. I love the ending of this book. It was probably the most challenging ending I’ve ever set up, and I’m really excited and curious to see how readers will react to it.

The Ballad of Never After will be released on September 13 and you can preorder it right here.



Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.