EVER CURSED, by Corey Ann Haydu, Simon Pulse, July 28, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)
A princess sets out to save her sisters and herself from a witch’s curse in Corey Ann Haydu’s Ever Cursed.
The Princesses of Ever are beloved by the kingdom and their father, the King. They are cherished, admired.
Jane, Alice, Nora, Grace, and Eden carry the burden of being punished for a crime they did not commit, or even know about. They are each cursed to be Without one essential thing—the ability to eat, sleep, love, remember, or hope. And their mother, the Queen, is imprisoned, frozen in time in an unbreakable glass box.
But when Eden’s curse sets in on her thirteenth birthday, the princesses are given the opportunity to break the curse, preventing it from becoming a True Spell and dooming the princesses for life. To do this, they must confront the one who cast the spell — Reagan, a young witch who might not be the villain they thought — as well as the wickedness plaguing their own kingdom…and family. —Synopsis provided by Simon Pulse
Ever Cursed is a book that readers will absolutely love or wish they’d never read. Truth be told, it’s a book that deals with important subjects, but it’s also one I wish I’d never picked up.
There’s a note at the beginning of Ever Cursed from the author, Corey Ann Haydu. It notes that the book includes content involving sexual assault, and that it could be triggering for people who have/have had eating disorders. And while I appreciated the disclaimer upfront, I still wasn’t prepared for what I read.
At first, Ever Cursed comes across as a somewhat juvenile fairy tale. The characters, the world they live in, their manner of speaking — they all felt somewhat middle grade. There are hints leading up to the story’s big plot reveal **SPOILER ALERT** and then suddenly the entire book is about rape and the suppression of women. While the author doesn’t go into great detail as far as the assault elements go, it does weigh over everything else.
I wanted to leave Ever Cursed feeling vindicated, like something had changed. Instead, I finished the book with an unnerving feeling. The overall tone is that men are bad. No one wants to or is willing to change. And even the token “good man” felt one dimensional.
The token “good man” isn’t the only one who feels one dimensional. The story is told through the alternating viewpoints of Jane and Reagan. I never felt a deep connection with either, and because the supporting characters are flat, there wasn’t much to tether me.
My other problem came with Haydu’s world building — or lack thereof. I never got a sense of where and when the story took place. I initially got the feeling of a 17th or 18th century vibe, but then, all of the sudden, there’s talk of photographs, which seem completely incongruous technologically with the setting. Add to that the almost middle-grade prose where the f-bomb surreptitiously pops up, and it becomes an odd mix that never really finds its groove.
I did read Ever Cursed in its entirety. I wanted to finish. That’s a sign of a good writer. She just lost her way somewhere.
Ever Cursed is a dark book hidden inside a beautiful cover. It will bring some readers a renewed sense of peace and serve as a rallying cry to others. For me, it was the opposite. I recommend borrowing this from the library before purchasing it.
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