Published by Simon Pulse on July 28, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Source: Audiobook from Library
Damsel meets A Heart in a Body in the World in this incisive and lyrical feminist fairy tale about a princess determined to save her sisters from a curse, even if it means allying herself with the very witch who cast it.
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.
Told through the eyes of Reagan and Jane—the witch and the bewitched—this insightful twist of a fairy tale explores power in a patriarchal kingdom not unlike our own.
Ever Cursed is a standalone young adult fantasy by Corey Ann Haydu. I wanted to love this book so much! I was initially drawn in by the absolutely stunning cover, and then I read the summary and I thought it sounded so good! I had an advanced ecopy of the book and I started reading it before release date, and I couldn’t get into the story so I set it down. Then I borrowed the audiobook from my library and I was determined to give this one another shot. It has all the makings of a great story- a great fantasy land filled with princes and princesses, witches and curses, a creepy sounding curse, a quest to break it and a really richly diverse and inclusive cast. I was super, super pumped. But I am sad to say that this book just didn’t work out for me. I seem to be in the minority with my opinion (at least according to goodreads reviews) so if this summary sounds like something you would really enjoy, definitely give it a go. I hope you like it much more than I did!
In Ever Cursed we have a ton of main characters, which was one of my issues with the book. We have our four cursed Princesses of Ever- Jane, Alice, Nora, Grace, and Eden and the young aitch that cursed them- Reagan all as our main characters. It was a lot of people to keep track of and to try and get to know. Jane and Reagan are the oldest of the 5 main girls so they took a little more of a center stage than the others, but most of the book has them all present on their quest to break the curse. I liked Jane and the sisters well enough, but I couldn’t really get to know them very well because there were so many of them. I also found it really confusing for about the first 35% of the book. I couldn’t tell who was talking and then once I could identify their voice, it was hard for me to place who they were in the big picture. Because we have the four Princesses of Ever on the cursed side and then we have Reagan and her whole extended family on the cursing side. I was initially overwhelmed, but once the book got into the actual quest part of the story at about the 40% mark, I had everyone and their curses well enough sorted out. I just felt like it took too long for the story to get going and for me to gain my bearings in the world.
The curse itself was very interesting and completely terrifying. Reagan was mad at the king and in order to try and get back at him she cast a spell on all his daughters that would take hold when they turned 13 and would become permanent when Reagan turned 18. It was called the spell of without, and it took something from each of the cursed princesses. Jane was unable to eat or drink anything (for years!) Alice was unable to sleep, Nora was unable to love and Grace was unable to remember. Eden was the last to be cursed because she turned 13 just days before Reagan turned 18, and she was cursed to be unable to have hope (I think?) At Eden’s birthday Reagan shows up and tells the sisters how they can break the curse, and off they go on kind of a quest.
Here’s the thing- I really liked the idea of the plot, and I loved the cast of diverse and inclusive characters, as well as all of the social themes and serious issues that the author decided to tackle in this story, but I strongly disliked the mean characters who seemed mean just for the sake of being mean. The princes and princesses from other kingdoms that laughed at the cursed princesses and who wanted a cursed princess of their own, to the people of Ever itself who seemed to delight in watching the cursed young ladies suffer. It just felt mean spirited for the sake of being mean spirited and I didn’t like it as a plot point to show out the meanness in the world. I think there are many other ways to accomplish that. My other issue with the book was Regan. I found her to be incredibly rash and immature. She cast that huge spell at such a young age and didn’t really even stop to think about the consequences. And even after being essentially banished for 5 years, only to return before her 18th birthday to give the Princesses the opportunity to break the spell, seemed to do nothing for her. I could not connect with her in any way shape or form. She was too impulsive and selfish for my liking and I just couldn’t see her as anything but the villain, which I know is not what the point of the story was. I am a very character driven reader, and so my inability to connect with the characters led to too many frustrations for me to be able to enjoy this story. That is not to say that I can’t see the appeal. I think this book will appeal to many readers who are looking for a feminist fantasy story that features a diverse cast. If that sounds like your cup of tea, give Ever Cursed a read. Tons of readers seem to really enjoy the storytelling in this one. It just wasn’t for me.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2020 Audiobooks Challenge
- 2020 New Release Challenge
- Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge 2020