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October 1, 2019

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler, illustrated by Frank Miller ~ a Review

by MK French



FROM HER HIDING PLACE IN the straw pile and through eyes filled with tears, Nimue thought Father Carden looked like a spirit of light. It was how he stood, back to the bleached sun, and the way the clouds poured under his draping sleeves and upraised palms, like a man standing on the sky. His trembling voice rose above the din of bleating goats, crackling wood, screaming infants, and wailing mothers. “God is love. It is a love that purifies, a love that sanctifies, a love that unites us.” Carden’s pale blue eyes passed over the piteous, howling mob, prostrated in the mud, barricaded by monks in red robes. (First chapter, first paragraph)

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October 2019; Simon & Schuster; 978-1534425330
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); YA, fantasy
Nimue had a connection to dark magic, making her an outcast in her Druid village. When her village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, her mother charges her to find the legendary sorcerer Merlin and reunite him with an ancient sword that had been hidden. She's too busy to think about revenge as she teams up with the mercenary Arthur and various fae refugees from across England. As she wields the sword meant for the one true king against the corrupt one, she tries to unite her people and seek vengeance for her family.

Frank Miller is an award-winning comic book writer, novelist, inker, screenwriter, film director, and producer, known for his work on Batman, Sin City and "The 300." Thomas Wheeler is also a screenwriter, producer, and author, with credits that include the Empire TV and the Lego Ninjago movie. I had known about Frank Miller's prior works but hadn't realized that I enjoyed Thomas Wheeler's animated works, too. Cursed is also set to be a Netflix series, adding to their lengthy credits list.

The novel opens with the Red Paladins burning druids on crosses, hunting out roots and carvings of the old gods, with the monks under Father Carden's command declaring that the druids had to denounce their sinful ways and confess the evils to make peace with God. Rather like a number of anime series, we then flash backward to the events just prior to Dewdenn being overrun by the paladins. They're hardly the sinless agents of God that they feel themselves to be and not the only ones that fear the fey or witches. Merlin in this novel isn't the feared sorcerer at all, but a man that lost his magic years ago and uses trickery and spycraft to keep King Uther Pendragon satisfied with power in the face of drought, famine, food riots and the threat of other kingdoms taking advantage of weakness. In other words, this is not the King Arthur mythos we're familiar with, but a new twist on the old tales.

Occasional black and white illustrations add to the stark feel of the story. Some of the scenes and paragraphs almost flow like water, and some of them are choppy and harsh in the midst of Nimue battling the Red Paladins. Because most people don't stand up to them, Nimue is soon known as the Wolf Blood Witch. As much as she wants to run from this title and the feeling that the fate of all the lost fey clans rests on her, showing them that the Red Paladins can be killed and aren't as all-powerful as they claim gives them too much hope. This is a theme that occurs frequently in all kinds of stories about the underdog hero coming out from under the misery dumped upon them from a greedy and powerful villain. It speaks to all of us, that we too can overcome hardships and find an ending that we desire.

Buy Cursed at Amazon


Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and three young children.


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