I decided to take a short break from the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier to catch up on my Netgalley books. I was really interested in the dark YA historical fantasy, The Curse That Binds Us by Katie Hayoz. Since reading The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson and House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, dark fantasy has been my absolute favorite genre. They don’t go as dark as horror and there’s still that fantasy element. However, while I liked this book, it wasn’t great. This review will be spoiler free.
Some curses can’t be outrun.
The secret to Redd’s past is locked away in a 400-year-old box that mysteriously appears every year on her birthday. For her entire life, her mother has kept them running from whatever lurks inside it. But Redd’s had enough of not knowing who she is. So when the box shows up where only she can find it, she opens it…and awakens a link to the evil her mother fought to keep dormant.
John lives in an old-fashioned village, a place of exquisite beauty and abundance. But such splendor demands that the villagers commit dark and unspeakable acts. When the link with Redd is unlocked, the village council believes they have an alternative. John is sent to find the one girl who could possibly save them…by making the ultimate sacrifice.
Eleanor sets off from England to America in 1587, pregnant and desperate to leave her ties with the devil behind. But when the captain of the ship refuses to take her and the other settlers further than Roanoke Island, what should be the beginning of a better life turns into a horrendous struggle to survive. Eleanor’s desire to see her daughter live at any cost will curse her and everyone around her for centuries to come…
Follow as Redd, John, and Eleanor’s stories twine together in a mash-up of dark contemporary and historical fantasy. The Curse That Binds Us delves into the nuances of good and evil, the price of loyalty, and the extremes we will go to for those we love.
I am all about anything to do with the missing Roanoke colony so when I saw that this book was at least partially about that, I had to read it. The story is told from three different POVs. There is Redd and John in the present and Eleanor in the Roanoke colony during the 1500s. All three tie in together but unsurprisingly, Eleanor’s was my favorite. I always prefer historical fiction over contemporary and I felt that Eleanor’s story was more fleshed out.
Unfortunately, while I did like Eleanor, none of the characters really made a long-lasting impression on me. I found them all to be a bit bland, especially Redd and John. They were both pretty standard YA characters. Nothing was really wrong with them, I just couldn’t get invested in their story lines. I think this was partially due to the pacing.
I felt that this book took a little too long to get interesting and then when I was really getting into it, it ended. The ending was a cliff hanger, which is fine, but it was too abrupt. I think it would have been better if the events in the ending would have happened around the 75% point and then the book ended with a bit more confrontation and drama.
As for the story itself, it’s pretty vanilla for a dark fantasy. I found it to walk the line of being dark and creepy but there was nothing extreme. I do think some readers might have an issue with the Devil (Lucifer) being a character. He isn’t portrayed in a good way and he’s not romanticized. He’s evil and a lying trickster but just be aware that he makes an appearance and plays a large role.
The Curse That Binds Us is the first book of a series called The Devil of Roanoke. The second book, The Vows That Break Us, will be out later this year. While I didn’t absolutely love this story, I am interested enough to read the second one. Is this book one you plan to read? Thanks for reading and have a great day!