Cursed is kind of like X-Men, but with a hotter guy and no funky costumes.
Jennifer Armentrout (who I met at BEA and is a doll)’s latest novel follows our “cursed” heroine Ember McWilliams and her little sister Olivia as they struggle to survive on their own. Their mother locks herself in her room and leaves Ember in charge of, well, everything, so that she can avoid dealing with her husband’s and daughter deaths. Her depression is so severe that she doesn’t realize that she only lost her husband in the car accident–but only because Olivia brought Ember back from the dead. Olivia was born with a special power that lets her heal and reanimate living things. When Ember returned, however, she discovered that she was cursed. Olivia’s touch heals, but Ember’s kills.
Ember’s high school experience is any happier than her home life, it may actually be worse. She is constantly bullied and picked on. Before her accident she was popular, but now Ember is the school pariah with only one friend, Adam. One day, the bullying is taken too far and Ember accidentally uses her curse. The next thing Ember knows, she comes home from school to find intruders who knock her out. When she wakes up, it is in a beautiful house that is definitely not hers. Its owner, the creepy Jonathon Cromwell, informs Ember that he has taken the liberty of relocating her family to his mansion in West Virginia.
Relocated, kidnapped, whatever you want to call it, Ember does not want to be in West Virginia, but Olivia loves it. Cromwell practically collects other children with special abilities; aside from her mother, Ember is the only other person in the house who was not born with a gift. Because her abilities started after her death, Ember’s new housemates consider her cursed, only tolerate her living in the house because the like Olivia, and are not shy at all about letting her know their feelings. Except for Hayden, Jonathon’s hot son who has been watching Ember a far for years. He wants to help Ember take control over her abilities, but as her life becomes more confusing and difficult, will she push him away?
Even though I made the X-Men comparison, you should know that Cursed is really much more down to Earth. Everyone is human and looks it, even though they have special abilities. The X-Men also tend to lead fairly cushy lives and that is definitely not the case for Ember. She is an exceptionally strong character who is able to keep fighting even when she doesn’t think she can get any lower or things can get worse.
Because she is so used to being shunned, Ember’s growing friendship with Hayden is especially sweet. As her control over her touch strengthens, her feelings for Hayden grows into more than just friendly interest. The push and pull in their ever changing relationship and feelings seems natural given their circumstances.
I read this story in a little over a day, I enjoyed it so much. I’m always a sucker for a good mystery and there is a thriller/mystery aspect to the plot that makes it so much more than another paranormal romance.
I received this ARC as a part of a tour organized by Around the World ARC Tours.
Expected publication date: September 18, 2012