Curses was entertaining, adventurous, and very well written well executed Beauty and the Beast retelling with lots of character and lovely romance.
Curses by Lish McBride
Publication Date : July 20th 2021
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre : Fantasy / Retelling / YA
Pages : 448
Disclaimer – I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRH international and NetGalley.
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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?
Curses was fantastic and entertaining YA fantasy and retelling of Beauty and Beast about curses, friendship, family, manipulation, deception, trust, social class differences, accepting yourself, hope and love.
Writing was beautiful with timeless feel to it. Story was written in third person narrative from alternative perspective of Merit and Tevin. It was set in 1880s with world of faeries, mages, and curses that made it atmospheric.
Plot was fun and adventurous. It revolved around Merit Craven and her curse she got from fairy godling when she was 15 for refusing to marry old suitor of her mother’s choosing that turned her into beast. She needed to get rid of curse before she turns 18 (which was only weeks away) or else the curse would be permeant. For that either she had to marry a suitor of her mother’s choosing or someone who loved her which was least likely in her beastly form. But when thief who tried to steal medicine that helped with curse traded her son, Tevin Dumont, to Merit she made agreement with Tevin. Tevin had gift of charm, he could read people well, and was con artist. He could help her find best match and avoid suitors like her past lover who betrayed her but they didn’t expect was fall for each other. It was interesting to read how Merit will find suitors, how Tevin will help her learn to have trust again, and if she will marry for love or choose one of the suitors.
This was more character driven and there were so many characters. They were all realistic and interesting to read. Both Tevin and Merit were like characters we used to read in YA fantasy and yet I loved them both.
Merit was smart, kind, rebellious, and kick ass heroine who didn’t like to be controlled and like kids of this age she blamed others for her mistakes and bad decisions. But even with that flaw, it was easy empathise with her. we see so many side of her as story progressed. I could feel her pain, guilt, anger, and regret over betrayal from her ex-lover and her mother. She saw drawbacks that came with curse but over the time she learned to appreciate perks of being beast. She grew a lot with her curse, learned to be confident, use her power and held her head high. I loved how being with Tevin she learned to trust and love again. But as her birthday was drawing closer we see desperation as well that muddled her mind and decision that created good turns and drama.
Tevin was my most favourite character. He was charming, handsome, clever, witty, and skilled con-man with heart of gold. I loved him for his love for his siblings and cousin. I felt for him and at the same time admired him for going through so much hardship and struggle, for tolerating his parents and doing jobs he wasn’t proud of to protect his siblings and give them better future. I didn’t expect him to be so honest and straight with Merit from the beginning. I loved how being with Merit made him want to be better man, worthy of her love, and didn’t try to swindle anything or anyone while he was with her.
I enjoyed secondary characters. I was surprised author included LGBTQ characters as well. I have to say all parental figures were selfish and complex who used their kid for their own gain.
Dumont family were dysfunctional skilled thieves and grifters. I didn’t like Tevin’s parents. They were so manipulative, selfish and money grabbers that they would trade their kids for money or get out of trouble. Tevin’s siblings- Kate and Amaury were amazing and they grew on me as story progressed. I loved Amaury’s serious but sarcastic nature. He spoke few words but whenever he opened his mouth, he made me smile. Val was my second favourite. She was Tevin’s cousin, a lively, loud mouth lesbian and loyal friend. I loved her for sticking with Tevin in all condition and pushing him whenever he needed a nudge.
I loved Merit’s freinds- Ellery– Merit’s healer, nonbinary character; Kaiya– Merit’s guard; and Willa and Diadora – they were cursed and priceless. Merit’s mother was not likable at first. She was smart, clever and formidable lady and her relationship with Merit was complex with so many things unsaid and gone wrong, but as story progressed I could see her different side and could see her love for Merit.
Merit’s suitors were interesting to read. Both Freddie and Cedric were hilarious. Latimer was narcissist and mindless order follower of his parents who were cunning and evil but he surprised me in climax.
Though this was a fantasy there was less worldbuilding. World wasn’t explained much. We jump into the world of faery godlings who could gift or curse, mages who couldn’t curse but invented magical things that were real life modern things with enchantment-trains, mirror as phone, lamps etc., and humans divided in commoners and those with faery blood that created social and class differences. It was interesting to read about Caen’s bloom that removed the curse for few hours.
Best part of the book was sense of competition between Merit’s suitors, balls and dinners, Merit and Tevin’s visit to fair, and journey through enchanted forest after climax. All dialogues were fabulous, they made me smile and laugh often. I enjoyed banter and conversations between characters. I liked the message of accepting mistakes and learning from it and how curse can also be a gift depending on perspective.
Romance was lovely and slow burn. I liked author took time in developing romance, making both characters know each other first, becoming friends, eventually developing feelings, and realising they loved each other almost near climax. It made the romance realistic and believable. I also enjoyed that there was less drama and no miscommunication and misunderstanding trope.
There weren’t big twist and turns or mystery. We know intentions of villains very early in story and we could see where story was going and yet I enjoyed reading them. What surprised me was what happened between climax and end and lots of things happened in this last 20-30% of the book. I wasn’t expecting a journey in this part, all scheming and plans, and confrontations. I loved Tevin for standing up against his parents, Latimer also surprised me and loved how all things turned out. It was fun and entertaining. End was lovely, uplifting and happily-ever-after.
Overall, Curses was entertaining, adventurous, and very well written well executed Beauty and Beast retelling with lots of characters, good message and lovely romance.
I highly recommend this if you love,
Fantasy with less worldbuilding
more character driven
rogue hero and kickass heroine
slow burn romance
balls and gowns
No usual romance tropes
witty characters and dialogues
Thank you for reading! Let’s chat…
What do you think about this book and review? Have you read this already or going to add to TBR? Which is your favourite Beauty and Beast retelling?
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