(DNF) Review: “Ever Cursed” by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: Ever Cursed
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Content warning/s: Sexism, sexual abuse, eating disorder, classism
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ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Princesses of Ever are beloved by the kingdom and their father, the King. They are cherished, admired.


Jane, Alice, Nora, Grace, and Eden carry the burden of being punished for a crime they did not commit, or even know about. They are each cursed to be Without one essential thing – the ability to eat, sleep, love, remember, or hope. And their mother, the Queen, is imprisoned, frozen in time in an unbreakable glass box.

But when Eden’s curse sets on her thirteenth birthday, the princesses are given the opportunity to break the curse, preventing it from becoming a True Spell and dooming the princesses for life. To do this, they must confront the one who cast the spell – Reagan, a young witch who might not be the villain they thought – as well as the wickedness plaguing their own kingdom…and family.

DNF’d at 50%

I tried to finish this. I really, really did. But, alas, I can’t and I finally gave up on this book after spending two weeks slogging through its pages.

I was lured into this book first by its gorgeous book cover, then its delicious plot. Sadly, I found the execution wanting. The worldbuilding was two-dimensional:  hazy and boring. The magic system – witches cumbered by a new skirt after each spell they cast, the material of which varies in make and weight depending on the severity of the magic used – could have been something, but its impact was lost on me as the story continued its slow trudge.

The characters, much like the worldbuilding, was also lackluster. Aside from their respective curses of Without, I can barely separate the cursed princesses in my mind. Jane’s voice, although she was one of the two POV characters, was weak at most, nonbearing more often than not as I found her repeating the same thoughts over the 50% of the book that I managed to read.

What stood out, however, was Reagan. I love grey characters, especially righteously angry and vengeful characters. I thought Reagan was going to be one so, even when the story was slow to unfold, I stayed hoping to see what she would do with her anger. 

My hope was for naught.

Maybe I shouldn’t have expected anything from her character, but I was set up by the opening chapter. Instead of the righteous anger and revenge that I was waiting to see, I got pettiness and immaturity. Reagan only ever listened to herself, filtering what others tell her and only hearing and seeing whatever it was she wanted. Though she said, many times, that she did what she had done to avenge her wronged mother, she never listened to her, never considered what she wanted or not wanted Reagan to do. I couldn’t help but believe that Reagan casted her curse on the princesses to appease her own feelings. Guilt or anger, I’m not sure, but it was all incredibly selfish.

Also, for all of Reagan’s professions of rage against the king, she was never forthcoming with the exact reason. The precursor event was alluded to and hinted at numerous times throughout the first half of this book, but nary an essential tidbit about it was directly mentioned and it just got frustrating. If the big reveal was to be done in the last half, I could only imagine it will be heaped and crammed until the end, and I’m not in for that.

Ever Cursed could have been more. It tried to tackle serious issues such as sexism and classism, which was appreciated. All the book’s flaws, however, overshadowed this intent. Still, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from picking up any book. Tastes differ, and while this book didn’t work for me, it could be what sparks the heart of another reader.

COREY ANN HAYDU is the critically acclaimed author of several novels for young readers, including OCD Love Story, which earned her a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Her books have been Junior Library Guild, Indie Next, and BCCB Blue Ribbon selections. Corey lives in Brooklyn with her husband, her daughter, her dog, Oscar, and a wide variety of cheese.

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