Monday 4 February 2013

The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates - Book Review

Title: The Accursed
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: Harper Collins/Ecco
Publication Date: 5th March 2013
Pages: 688
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Paranormal / Historical
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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This eerie tale of psychological horror sees the real inhabitants of turn-of-the-century Princeton fall under the influence of a supernatural power. New Jersey, 1905: soon-to-be commander-in-chief Woodrow Wilson is president of Princeton University. On a nearby farm, Socialist author Upton Sinclair, enjoying the success of his novel 'The Jungle', has taken up residence with his family. This is a quiet, bookish community - elite, intellectual and indisputably privileged. But when a savage lynching in a nearby town is hushed up, a horrifying chain of events is initiated - until it becomes apparent that the families of Princeton have been beset by a powerful curse. The Devil has come to this little town and not a soul will be spared. 'The Accursed' marks new territory for the masterful Joyce Carol Oates - narrated with her unmistakable psychological insight, it combines beautifully transporting historical detail with chilling fantastical elements to stunning effect. (Goodreads Synopsis)

This book started strongly and I found the story intriguing and gripping. The prose style is old-fashioned, making the time period really come to the fore. It really does feel like you are reading an account from that time and it is extremely well done.

Likewise, the prose is both poetic and yet completely practical, telling the story in a no-nonsense way while retaining and feeling of fantasy and mystery. The characters are well-drawn and come across as individuals, their personalities and motivations clear and believable. This is a story where there is as much mystery as fantasy and the reader is often left to draw his/her own conclusions as the tale progresses.

However, as great as the writing is, I did feel the tale lost its way a little towards the middle and my attention did drift. But things came back together by the end for a strong finish.

This is a book that will appeal to readers who enjoy both literary fiction and paranormal. Those who prefer their paranormal books to be light, easy reads, will probably not get so much out of it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your review! This sounds like one that I'd like so I've just put in a request for a review copy.