reviews

Cursed (Cursed #1) by Brent Miller Book Review

Write on: Tue, 05 Oct 2021 by  in SPFBO 7 Read 115

CURSED by Brent Miller is a lycanthrope story that focuses not on the physical act of becoming a monster but the psychological toll. Brent Miller weaves an impressive story about the coloration between teen angst and becoming a murderous beast. I really enjoyed MTV's TEEN WOLF, at least the early seasons, that dealt with similar themes. More seriously, I enjoyed GINGER SNAPS, that also dealt with the transformation of one's teenage years (albeit from a female perspective).

The premise is Garrick Elliot is an ordinary high school student that has very ordinary problems. He wants to date the beautiful Hayden, even though she has a bunch of creep friends and is (in his own words) way out of his league. Garrick, of course, is unaware that she is a lycanthrope and part of a pack that assembles in national parks every full moon in order to avoid hurting ordinary people. The book is told in an anachronic style so we know that Garrick becomes a werewolf from the very beginning and is struggling with the fact that the pack is not always capable of stopping themselves from killing innocent humans. I liked the fact the author didn't make it a classic case "Pack Leader Evil", "Plucky Underdog Good" with the pack doing a reasonable job of trying to avoid collateral damage. It's just they're not doing enough in Garrick's opinion.

The book proceeds to split into parallel timelines with the lead up to Garrick becoming a werewolf as well as his attempts to find a way to either control his condition or cure himself. Another way the book plays with the classic formula (and the YA genre) is the fact that Garrick's attempts to cure himself or control his condition may actually be causing more harm than good. Brent Miller manages to capture a believable angst for Garrick. He manages to be upset and angst without coming off as whiny. I also liked his relationship with the girls he is interested in. That is a bit YA but "I'm afraid I'm going to kill you" vs. "I'm afraid I'm going to like being a monster too much" are both decent story arcs to follow. There's an interesting cast of characters in the pack and finding out who believes what and is involved works well within the split timeline.

I think the biggest thing I like about this book is the fact that it is something utterly lacking in parody. The condition of being a werewolf is treated as something horrible instead of awesome and genuinely frightening as well as guilt-inducing. There's no other monsters seemingly so there's no justification for being a lycanthrope other than survival. Garrick also handles his condition in a methodical cautious manner. He attempts to research his condition but his experiments are done in a quasi-scientific manner rather than just hopping on the internet to see what Google provides.

In conclusion, Cursed is a decent Young Adult urban fantasy novel. I love werewolf stories and think this manages to strike a careful balance between the struggles of being a hormonal young man and someone who has been cursed with becoming a monster. It's slightly more serious and less self-aware than a lot of books in its genre, treating the condition of lycanthropy perfectly straight. I think that helps differentiate it from other, more humorous or adventurous, books and it functions as a straight horror novel. PG-13 or not.

Available here

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 October 2021 22:58
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/