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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

416 Pages

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

Synopsis: The Lady of the Lake is the true hero in this cinematic twist on the tale of King Arthur created by Thomas Wheeler and legendary artist, producer and, director Frank Miller (300, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City). Featuring 8 full color and 30 black-and-white pieces of original artwork by Frank Miller.

Whosoever wields The Sword of Power shall be the one true King.

But, what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?

Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…

That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.

Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.

But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.

Cursed has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2019, especially as it’s also going to be a Netflix series in 2020. I love Arthurian legends, and having Nimue take the lead role is long overdue. Alas, this has turned into one of my most frustrating reads in recent memory. There is just so much potential here, but it falls short in quite a few ways.

While I liked the way Thomas Wheeler depicted some of the already known Arthurian characters in some creative and unique ways, Nimue herself is just way too derivative of other female main characters in fantasy, namely Celaena from The Throne of Glass series, by Sarah Maas. There’s virtually nothing distinguishable between the two characters except that Celaena is more intelligent. I did find the secondary characters more interesting, particularly Lancelot, Morgan, and Iris. Except for a few tweaks, Arthur remains pretty true to previous depictions by other authors, but there’s the possibility for some further development with his character in the next book.

I actually liked the storyline, especially near the beginning, but then the narrative winds up being split between the povs of several characters and it’s a bit incohesive with everyone wandering around doing their own thing, marking time until the big climax. Speaking of which, the cliffhanger ending I found anti-climatic and deeply disappointing.

As far as the artwork goes, I don’t think this is Frank Miller’s best work and it really did nothing for the story. To be honest, I think it’s distracting at times.

Overall, while I didn’t hate Cursed, it’s definitely a disappointment. Thomas Wheeler needed to flesh out both the story and its characters to make it stand out from the crowded field of Arthurian novels. That said, I do see potential here and I will definitely give the next installment a try. I will also be binging on the series when it drops on Netflix, especially as it stars Katherine Langford from 13 Reasons Why, and Devon Terrell who excellently played a young Barack Obama in Barry.