Review: “A Cursed Embrace” by Cecy Robson

Pros: There’s some interesting plot material
Cons: I can’t stand the “feel” of the story/world—I’ll explain further in the review
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

This is one of those cases where I’ll quote from the back of the book instead of doing my own summary of the set-up, because I’d have trouble with this one for various reasons.

After Celia and her sisters help master vampire Misha save his family, their powers are exposed to the supernatural community of the Lake Tahoe region. But fame comes at a price, and being “weird” isn’t always welcome.

To make matters worse, Celia desires the love of Alpha werewolf Aric, but his pack is bent on destroying their relationship to preserve his pureblood status. And once weres start turning up dead—with evidence pointing to the vampires—she must face the prospect of losing Aric forever. But the chaos only masks a new threat. An evil known as the Tribe has risen—and their sights are set on Celia and her sisters.

First, A Cursed Embrace: A Weird Girls Novel is a sequel to The Weird Girls: A Novella and Sealed with a Curse. This book doesn’t stand alone well, so read at least SwaC first. (Feel free to read my Series Books Rant if you’re annoyed that I would bother to mention this, or are bored.)

Since I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, I’ll just run through the reasons why. Those reasons may or may not match your tastes, which is why I go into such detail—it might be enough info for you to decide you do want to read the book if you’re so inclined. In the unlikely event that the author stumbles across this: I recommend you stop reading here. I wrote this for potential readers, not you, and there’s no reason for you to give yourself heartburn over one reviewer’s opinions.

 

The book is told entirely in the first person from Celia’s point of view. This makes some of her thoughts remarkably narcissistic:

One hand curled around my waist, while his opposite hand traveled beneath my long chocolate waves to cup the nape of my neck.

Seriously? She’s being felt up by the werewolf of her dreams and her thoughts go to her “long chocolate waves”? Not only is that an awkward way to work description in, but it’s also highly self-centered in a first-person narrative. And no, that quote wasn’t the only example of this, nor is Celia deliberately painted as such a narcissistic personality.

But wait, there’s also the purple prose and over-the-top dialogue:

“You couldn’t have, sweetness. Your heart’s too pure to cause something so vile.”

Let’s move on to Aric (source of the above quote), the werewolf Celia has fallen for, and the other members of his pack. First, it’s love at first sight (from the last book)—everyone instantly pairs up, with Celia and all three of her sisters lining up neatly with Aric and his three pack members. It happened in the blink of an eye, and it’s a blatant pubescent teenage wish-fulfillment fantasy, plopped into the middle of a series that clearly isn’t meant for that age group (I’ll get back to that later). As for Aric himself, he comes across as the (often negative) stereotype of a college fraternity jock, which hardly makes him an attractive romantic interest. (Not to mention I felt very little chemistry between him and Celia.)

Celia is a Mary Sue character, which isn’t a compliment. She’s a supposed maladroit dork of a character, who just happens to have two of the most powerful and attractive men in town vying wildly for her affections. (I hate to say it, but the similarity between the name Celia and the author’s name Cecy doesn’t help that impression.) Even Celia’s imperfections serve largely to make her more adorable or awkwardly sweet rather than truly flawed.

Some of Celia’s reactions to Misha, that vampire, leave me with difficulties. He spies on her while she’s naked, and after she tells him that she’s with Aric now he all but sexually assaults her. Her reaction? Oh, damn, he wants her! Other than that? Eh, mild annoyance. And of course when she interacts with him later, it’s all good again.

Celia and her sisters are nurses, but as far as I can tell they’re only required to work when it’s plot-convenient. Nice gig if you can get it.

The first-person narrative is a problem in another sense. Celia feels the need to over-analyze and over-explain everything in her thoughts. This gets ridiculous everywhere, but worse, she keeps doing it during what should be fast-paced climactic plot events. It assumes stupidity on the part of the reader (nothing is left to the reader to figure out or understand), totally derails the pacing, and again, makes her seem narcissistic.

 

So here’s the thing. Celia comes across as a Mary Sue. All of the sisters feel like characters in a teenage wish-fulfillment fantasy. And yet, some of the material in A Cursed Embrace gets dark. Horrifically sexually dark. Definitely not aimed at the teenage wish-fulfillment fantasy crowd. These two factors clash, both in tone and in audience expectation. I got jerked right out of the narrative by the tonal/content dive toward the end of the book.

I can’t recommend this book. I guess it could work for someone who wants the relationship and character development more common to some young adult books, while getting a serving of horror tossed in for good measure.

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