Ever Cursed by Corey Ann Haydu had all the makings of a book I’d love. Kings and queens, witches and magic, unique and creative magic system, a beautiful cover, and a killer story idea.
But what you see is not always what you get.
While there are many redeeming qualities to Ever Cursed, the flaws outweigh the sparkles in my opinion.
Let’s jump right in.
Ever Cursed Review
I need to get it all off my chest, so I’m going to plow head first into the negatives, and we’ll look at what I loved at the end.
Ever Cursed is a slow book. I mean a really slow book. Aside from the opening moments, there’s not a lot going on until a good halfway through the book or more.
I like high adrenaline books. And I even recently engaged in a conversation in defense of slow books, primarily because it took me 3 years to finish Mistborn, but when I did, I devoured books 2 and 3 in a week.
Ever Cursed did not take me that long to finish. I actually read it rather quickly in about 2-3 days or so. But it’s mind-numbingly slow to start.
It probably doesn’t help that the author used absolutely no creativity in crafting her world at all. The kingdom’s name is Ever. There’s another kingdom named AndNot, and another named Soar. Spells are quite literal. The Spell of Without (that leaves you without something) and the Spell of Always Day, which, you guessed it, means it’s always day.
And then there’s the War We Won, and a whole slew of terms like that, like the witches live in the House on the Hill, which is a house on the hill.
I researched the author after the fact and saw that she writes Middle Grade and younger books, and that’s probably the best way to describe the world building. It’s like she forgot she was writing YA and stuck to her MG naming conventions.
Ever Cursed was probably also very slow because all the surprises aren’t really surprises, and you can see them coming from a mile away. Most reviewers I saw pointed this out as well.
But let’s talk about what really doesn’t belong.
Any book that has to give me a disclaimer before I read it, really probably shouldn’t have been written in the first place. At least not the part requiring the trigger warning.
There’s some very obviously disgusting parts in this book, and while it’s meant to provoke outrage, it mainly was revolting, but was not executed as well as it could have been to create the desired emotions. Both within the characters and the reader.
Oh, and the characters are bland. Bland, bland, bland.
I frequently forgot which main character POV I was supposed to be reading. The two are near indistinguishable in voice, and most of the supporting characters have almost no personality. There’s only one character that I can particularly say I enjoyed and it was Olive, the attendant. And even she didn’t really have a large enough part for me to really really like her.
Ever Cursed wasn’t all bad though.
The magic system is really really well done. When a witch casts a spell before her 18th birthday, it’s a Slow spell. And when she turns 18, it becomes True. In order to prevent a spell from becoming permanent, you must break it before it becomes True.
Our main character, Jane (plain Jane), was cursed with not being able to eat. She hasn’t eaten a thing in 5 years. Any normal person would die, but because it was a Slow spell, it didn’t kill her right away. But the moment the spell becomes True, she’ll die. So there’s the stakes. Stop the curse before it becomes too late.
There’s other stakes too, but that’s obviously the most pressing.
When a witch casts a spell, a skirt of varying fabrics appear around their waist. The stronger or more brutal the spell, the heavier the skirt. Reagan’s (the witch who cast the curse on Jane) grandmother has cast so many spells she has so many skirts that she’s literally stuck in a chair and can’t move.
It’s a very interesting concept that limits power, and I’ve never seen something quite like it before. It’s really quite genius. I love magic systems that take something mundane, like metal in Mistborn or scissors in Spin the Dawn, and make it magical and amazing.
I also really enjoyed the ending of Ever Cursed. But I must add that my feelings on the way it all played out are mixed.
What I mean is that I loved seeing all the pieces come together, but I felt the pieces were forced or misshapen to the point that you couldn’t put the puzzle together on your own.
While some parts of the story had very obvious twists, others had no way of ever being deduced from the story except you be told in a monologue format from a secondary character.
Since we are reading this book from the first person perspective of Jane and Reagan, we can only know the world to the extent of their knowledge. And since Jane’s father and Reagan’s grandmother haven’t exactly been forthright with information, you just simply can’t know things until the 90% mark of the book where Reagan’s grandmother spills the beans.
I enjoyed learning the information. I did. But it felt all very deus ex machina if you will.
Ever Cursed could have done without sexual assault scenes. And if the world building had been a tad more YA and the characters a bit more fleshed out, I would have really absolutely loved this book.
As it stands, the best I can give it is half marks. The story is there. It’s interesting. The magic is awesome. But the flaws are as blatant as a snag in the witch’s skirt or the itch from the wool of a powerful spell.
Give the book a try if you’d like. I’d by no means discourage someone from reading Ever Cursed if they had their heart set on it. It was a good book. Not the best book. But not a bad book either. I didn’t DNF it, and it didn’t take me weeks to read.
Looking for more reviews?
Check out my review of The Princess Trials by Cordelia K Castel.