Monday, October 18, 2021

Curses - Lish McBride

You get to hear from TWO reviewers today!

Summary: Merit Cravan refused to fulfill her obligation to marry a prince, leading to a fairy godling's curse. She will be forced to live as a beast forever, unless she agrees to marry a man of her mother's choosing before her eighteenth birthday.
Tevin Dumont has always been a pawn in his family's cons. The prettiest boy in a big family, his job is to tempt naïve rich girls to abandon their engagements, unless their parents agree to pay him off. But after his mother runs afoul of the beast, she decides to trade Tevin for her own freedom.

Now, Tevin and Merit have agreed that he can pay off his mother's debt by using his con-artist skills to help Merit find the best match . . . but what if the best match is Tevin himself? (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

Ashley's Review: I’m loving this retelling of fairytales vibe we’ve got going in literature these days, and so I am happy to tell you about this fun retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.” I’m thinking it might not be something on your radar, and so that’s fun as well.

When last we met in “Beauty and the Beast” land, I was reviewing a local (to me author) who wrote the retelling Beast of Ten. That was fun and you should check it out as well. This book is completely different. Here are a few things I loved about it:

1. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. In fact, there are many parts that are just hilarious and I enjoyed a laugh at the character’s expense in a fun, cleverly written way. It’s always fun to be in on the joke, right?

2. I liked that all the characters had measures of both greatness and weakness. There was variance on this spectrum, of course, but McBride’s character development led to nothing being completely black and white with every character, which is somewhat refreshing. I think fairytales will often veer into the completely good or completely evil character, and that is just rarely the truth in reality. Although this book is far from reality, it is nice to have authentic-feeling characters.

3. I liked the introduction of mythical creatures into the “Beauty and the Beast” realm. Obviously, the original story has quite a bit of mythical creatures going on with the obvious Beast and all, and Disney even takes it next level with the talking tea pots and such; McBride took it a different way. I liked the fairies and curses and alternate explanations to what might have happened to lead to this variation of the story.  Even though the story was a “tale as old as time” (I’m sorry, I had to), it felt fresh and new.

4. The Beast is a female character. Loved it.

5. The writing is smart, witty, and accessible. It isn’t hard to read, and it moves quickly. I think it could impress younger teens with the story as well as be fun for older teens as well, who might appreciate more of the underlying jokes and hilarious hijinks.

I’m giving this book four stars instead of five because I reserve my five stars for books that have a deeper meaning, are exceptionally well written, and teach something just beyond a really good story. They must be fantastic in all aspects—a great story that also changes the reader. Although this is a really fun story, I wouldn’t say that I came away with a profound insight to myself. And that’s fine. I don’t always need a profound insight. I’m telling you this only because I know I gave a super glowing review, and you would think with that I would give five stars. Four stars for me is a “must read,” so go ahead and give it a try! It’s a lot of fun, and a great reimagination of “Beauty and the Beast.”

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is clean. There is some light teen romance.

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Mindy's Review:  Sheesh.  I'm tired.  I can't be absolutely certain as to the cause, but it might have something to do with the fact that I was up till 3am finishing this book...  

Curses is a light-hearted, loosely-based retelling of Beauty and the Beast with an unexpected twist -- the 'Beast' is a woman, desperate to find love before a fairy curse becomes permanent, and her 'innocent captive,' a handsome, experienced con-man. It could just be me, but I felt that Curses had a hint of Cinderella/Sleeping Beauty as well, though perhaps I'm simply reading too much into the fairy gift/curse aspect of the story.  Either way, it's a boatload of fairytale fun.  

I loved the two main characters: Merit, the headstrong heiress who refuses to bend to her mother's will, and Tevin, whose charm is, almost literally, undeniable.  Together the two had the perfect amount of chemistry -- a hard-to-hit combo of romantic tension, witty banter, and being too cute for words.  The other characters in the story were each their own slice of entertaining, especially Val, Amaury, Ellery, Kaiya, Willa, etc.  Heck, even some of Merit's prospective suitors had their moments.  In fact, the secondary characters were so entertaining, that I'd willingly read other books with them as main characters (perhaps tied to other fairytales) should Lish McBride choose to write them. I also adored the setting, in which fairies, fairy curses, and fairy gifts, were far more commonplace than in any other stories I have read, and it really enhanced the story.

Curses is a good time, when good times are desperately needed, but it doesn't come without issues that I feel obligated to mention.  It is clean in the sense that it is free from profanity, graphic violence, and overt sexual situations.  No problems there, whatsoever (that I can recall).  However, parents hoping to hand this book to their child might want to have a conversation first about non-binary characters, the they/them pronoun (which can be somewhat tricky to read at first, if you aren't used to it), same-gender attraction, and gay marriage.  These issues don't factor into the book in a huge waybut they are present and it is something I feel might be confusing for younger readers if they aren't appropriately prepared.   

That said...

If you're still on board, and looking for a fast and easy read that will make you laugh and swoon (a little), Curses has got you covered.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader (or any parents who want to know):  No profanity or sexual situations beyond kissing (between a man and a woman).  One character is non-binary.  One female character has an intense crush on another female character.   Some mention of marriage between two men. 

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