Cursed by Jeremy C. Shipp

A Keith Dugger Review

THERE IS A DARKNESS that hides under society’s surface, one that is rarely seen or experienced, but does occasionally break through. We want to face it, we want to look at it square in its hollow eyes and stare it down, and push it back under the covers of what society demands is normal or right. Of course, we all don’t have the courage to stand ground in the face of that darkness, especially alone. Jeremy C Shipp’s Cursed gives us that courage; it is our strength against adversity, our crutch on which we can lean when we need it, and our companion offering warmth in the coldness of that darkness.

Cursed is aptly titled. Its main characters, Cicely and Nick both experience curses unique to their individual personalities and plights. Shipp pulls us in early with Cicely and Nick already deep into the challenges of their curses and they are thrown together by circumstance, a little chance, and a spork-full of design. Together they form their own support group and set out to find the root of their problems.

Along the way, they find others suffering from similar maladies and begin to find mismatched pieces of different puzzles. The darkness is coming, the puppet master hiding within it has a grand plan, and those cursed must fight back to break their curses and gain at least a little freedom. Readers will see it forming, readers will see it coming, but none will imagine the true face of the darkness that Shipp reveals with masterful foreshadowing and prose.

Shipp’s clear, concise writing takes us down this twisted path under the covers. His minimalist style allows him to cut to the meat of the tale while setting a page turning pace that keeps readers guessing until the end. And he gives readers such wonderful imagery that leaves us almost wanting to be cursed, too.  Shipp’s debut and widely praised novel Vacation set the foundation for his success. With Cursed, Shipp answers back with a terrific second novel that proves his talent has the stamina for many more works to come.

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