Published by Faber Faber
Published on 3 January 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Source: My home library
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Summer Grace has had enough of secrets. They've been tearing her family apart for generations, and one in particular caused the death of her best friend, Wolf. But now Wolf is back. Supposedly returned from having run away - though Summer knows that's not what happened. He was resurrected, brought back to life by her ex-best friend - an ex-best friend who is now swearing revenge on her family.
And her family won't believe that whatever this thing is, it's not Wolf. He's dangerous, and Summer is desperate - so desperate that she might just be forced to turn to the one friend she never thought she'd turn to again. Because something is stirring - something so powerful that even the Graces will fear it.
The Curses is the sequel to The Graces, told from the point of view of the youngest Grace sibling, air witch Summer. With the time elapsed between releases, I did re-read The Graces: I planned on doing a light, skimming re-read, but it sucked me in and I really enjoyed it – probably more the second time that I did the first. It made me even more excited and eager to dive into The Curses.
With the return of Wolf, Summer is more invested than ever in breaking the apparent curse on the Grace family. The curse that means when a Grace falls in love, one of the couple will die. She enlists the help of River and Marcus, and with a little snooping, discovers a new player who might be able to help. Meanwhile, something is wrong with Wolf and Fenrin, and it may all be linked. Summer has a knack for finding the truth, so she’s on the case.
I love the atmosphere this novel evokes. I have no trouble imagining a small British town right near the beach, and the oppression and moody feelings it evokes. I loved the descriptions and I feel like I know the Grace house and its yard, I can see it so well in my mind’s eye.
This book is much more paranormal than magical realism: after the ending in The Graces confirms the existence of magic in this world, we see more of it performed by this little coven. It removed a huge element of the ‘woooo mysterious Graces everyone worships’ to have the book from Summer’s point of view, but it really did work to see everything about the infamous Graces from an insider’s point of view. Especially since she kinda knows how everyone treats the Graces, but she grew up with it and likes it, and it was especially satisfying to see the Graces lose some of that power at times.
I found I enjoyed The Curses more than The Graces, probably because Summer’s character is more consistent and less confusing than River. In The Graces, River is a highly unlikeable hypocrite who simultaneously hates everyone and wants everyone to love and admire her. She hates the girls who are attracted to Fenrin, yet the entire plot is triggered by her desire for him. Summer, in comparison, is an unapologetic wannabe badass who openly admits the darkness within her and never pretends or tries to be something other than what she is. I found that the exploration into why Summer and even Fenrin were drawn to River was interesting and helped explain things in The Graces that River, as an unreliable narrator, deliberately left out. In contrast, Summer is a truthful narrator, and I feel that we always saw the real her.
However, consistency was still an issue in this novel. In The Graces, Esther knew about Fenrin and Wolf, and very nearly said it was ‘disgusting’. Why, then, would she allow Wolf to stay in her house? To allow Wolf and Fenrin to continue their relationship? She’s seemingly OK with it, and it’s so weird, especially since her earlier homophobia seems to have ‘magically’ disappeared. Summer claims that the siblings all worked together to hide it from their parents, which doesn’t line up with what Esther knew in The Graces.
Another thing that bothered me was that one of the characters was 16 when his love interest died at age 23. That’s a pretty huge age difference, and it didn’t seem to be an issue at all. But at the same time, the narrative also suggested they were the same age, so some consistency here would be nice.
However, I found the exploration of the theme of forgiveness really strong, and I could feel a lot of empathy for both Summer and River. I absolutely loved the fierceness of the love for family, even if that family was broken – and I don’t necessarily mean blood family: I mean Summer’s coven. Summer loves fiercely, and I loved seeing her relationships come to play in this novel.
Overall, I was super excited to read this book and I’m really glad I did. I think if you’ve read and enjoyed The Graces, you’ll probably also really enjoy The Curses. I know I did.
Also – these covers are just PHENOMENAL. Not the colourful ones: the ones with just the metallic text. WOW. I love them.