The Curse That Binds Us by Katie Hayoz

Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for providing me with this book!

Themes: YA fantasy, mystery, historical mystery

The synopsis

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.

The review

I was struggling (again) with Descendants of the Crane when I saw this book, which was published earlier this month, on NetGalley. The synopsis intrigued me enough to pick it and I do not regret letting my previous book aside for this one!

The story is told through 3 narrators and in 2 different timelines. We have Redd’s pov and John’s one for the present, and Eleanor’s narration for the 1587 era. If we don’t understand why these three narrators are here at first, the logic behind them unfolds little by little with the story. I really liked how everything that is happening at different times and places is connected with Redd’s situation. The only negative side induced by this narration is that the action takes a long time to carry on, giving the feeling of stalling.

The other issue is that the author has less time to build both the characters and the world. If the characters development is enough because we are discovering them through their actions and thoughts (for some of them), I would have liked to discover about Eden even if I suppose it will be the main place of action in the sequel. Concerning the 1587 timeline, I was impressed by the author’s capability to draw this period in my mind. I even preferred and was more involved in Eleanor’s chapters. I really felt the atmosphere of the Roanoke colony, the feeling of being trapped in an unknown place, and the collective mind that people had during that time (characterised by contempt towards everyone who is not English and towards women).

I loved discovering the mysteries lying behind Eden, the disappearance of the colony and the secrets of Redd’s mum. I think there is currently a trend of creating morally grey characters because none in this book has a clean past or pure intentions. And despite the fact that I usually succeed in liking at least one character in this type of situation, in this one they all got on my nerves (except for Eleanor)… But I really enjoyed how they all questioned the notions of love, family, loyalty and how far you can go to preserve your life.

In brief: an unusual story full of mysteries. Even if I didn’t really like the characters which usually is a big issue for me, I liked the book enough to go on with my reading. And given the cliffhanger of the end, I’m even more intrigued to see where the plot will be going.

My rating: 4/5

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