Book reviews, new books, publishing news, book giveaways, and author interviews

Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

cursed ones nancy holder Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie


Well-regarded paranormal writing duo Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie, best known for their Wicked series, have returned with a new series in which the cursed ones, the blood-lovin folks of the world, have had enough of behind-the-scenes living, and have made their presence known to the world. However, unlike the vamps in the Sookie Stackhouse books (see our reviews), the nocturnal critters in Cursed Ones arent sexy, and they arent especially friendly. In fact, they have a bit of the ol world domination on their minds, and that, combined with an insatiable blood-lust, makes them rather formidable foes. So formidable in fact, that the developed world is slowly crumbling beneath the onslaught of these dastardly folk.

But where there are vampires, theres always a vampire hunter, or in this case, a team of them. Eighteen-year-old Jenn Leitner is one such hunter, having stepped into the role after a rigorous, Tarantino-worthy training schedule at Spains Sacred Heart Academy . Working as part of a team of butt-kicking comrades, its Jenns duty to go about dusting any of the fanged and the fabulous. But things quickly become complicated when one of Jenns own family betrays her, and when her little sister Heather is kidnapped by a fearsome gang of blood-thirsty vamps, and Jenn finds herself facing down her greatest fears, and foes, all at once.

My thoughts

Perhaps Im showing my reviewery age, but Im quite the jaded cynic when it comes to all things vampire-related. As a reader, I tend to find myself liking a book despite it including vampires rather than because it does, so any author trotting out vampiric tropes before me is facing some harsh initial hurdles indeed. Ive certainly been pleasantly surprised by some authors in the past year or so, but Ive also found myself groaning through a morass of cliched dross.

The Cursed Ones certainly isnt the latter, but Im afraid that it didnt quite light my fire the way it might have. Despite an exotic setting (Spain, glorious Spain), and a racially diverse cast (hooray!), the book struggles somewhat in the plot stakes (pardon the pun), perhaps in part because of the challenge involved in setting up a new series, which I admit is far from an easy one.

The books painfully confusing in media res opening had me flailing about as a reader, and I admit to going back to check whether this was indeed the first in the series, or whether Id missed a volume or two somewhere down the track. Were immediately thrown into the action, with an array of seemingly disparate characters slaughtering vamps and monsters all over the place. While these openings can be great on camera, in a novel the reader needs a touch more time to find a character with whom to empathise so that they can hitch on and enjoy the narrative ride. As it was, I found this book rather like a Japanese hot spring: far too terrible to leap into immediately, and requiring a few tentative toe-dippings before I could fully immerse myself in it.

While things certainly pick up after this awkward opening, the plot struggles to bring much anything fresh to the table, meaning that the reader is left relying on the characters to carry the novel. While there are some interesting characters introduced throughout the novel, theres rather a sense of a D&D game to it all, with characters picked deliberately in order that they might contrast with the others in the book (the Planeteers from'Captain Planet rather come to mind here). There are some interesting personal challenges highlighted, with Catholic vampire Antonios quest for redemption being a particularly interesting one, and the difficulty in resolving human and inhuman aspects, such as those doing battle within the werewolf character 'Holger. However, I felt that the fact that much of the narrative focuses on Jenn, who spends most of her days swamped by feelings of inadequacy,''resulted in the novel being less successful than it might have been if wed spent more time in the point of view of the other characters.

Thats not to say that we dont flit between POVs, because, oh, we do. While for the most part this works, some of the head-hopping becomes a little vertiginous after a while, and I found myself in so many different heads that I was beginning to wonder if Id developed psychic powers. I cant help but wonder whether a tighter approach to point of view might have resulted in a streamlined book. And just as an aside, I always find it weird when non-native speakers slip into their native tongue for basic phrases such as yes, no, or thank you. Surely these phrases are amongst those learnt by rote, and its the more challenging parts of the language, such as idioms or exceptions, that would require one to fall back on ones native tongue?

Perhaps the major issue with the book is that each characters kryptonite is so explicitly stated that much of the mystery is taken out of the narrative. We know that Jenns sisters asthma will play a role in the plot. We watch as Jenn and the vampiric would-be Catholic priest struggle through the most challenging demonstration of starcrossed loverdom since Romeo and Juliet. The careful telegraphing of the various characters motivations, weaknesses, and actions results in a plot thats neat, but unfortunately rather inexorable, which is a shame.

Finally, I did find myself struggling a little, as I usually do, with the characterisation of the vampires. With the exception of Antonio, who is rendered as a counterpoint to the rest of his brethren, this whole race is drawn in rather broad brush-strokes (read: baddies). Such approaches always unnerve me a little in fiction, as its hard not to draw analogies with historical minority groups, and I always find myself mentally flagging these instances.


Admittedly, as someone who is lukewarm about paranormal fiction at best, The Cursed Ones isnt quite my cup of tea, but if you skip the few first chapters youll find yourself in for a neat and tidy, if not especially memorable, read. I suspect that since this book was largely dedicated to laying the groundwork for this series, things will pick up in the next offering from this powerhouse duo.

Rating: star Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguiestar Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguiehalfstar Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguieblankstar Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguieblankstar Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie (not bad)

With thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for the review copy

Purchase The Cursed Ones from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA

Other books by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

nancy holder witch curse Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguienancy holder legacy spellbound Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguienancy holder resurrection Review: The Cursed Ones by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie

No comments