If you liked ‘Fated‘, then you are going to love the second Alex Verus novel, ‘Cursed’. The second book by Jacka is so much better than the first. My problems with the first I made clear in my review, that I wasn’t keen on the first person perspective being used to information dump to the audience by breaking the fourth wall quite a lot.
In ‘Cursed’ though the first person perspective and the inner voice of Alex Verus is showing us the story, rather than just telling it. It’s a mark that Jacka is just getting better at writing his stories, and it makes me very excited for reading the rest of the Verus series.
One of the others things that helps Jacka other than just his developing skill, is that he isn’t now introducing an entire new magical world hidden from normal sight. He might have done a lot of set up in ‘Fated’ and it might have been annoying, (and I will admit might have been very harsh about how he went about doing it), but in truth a lot of it has paid off very well indeed.
The second venture into Alex’s life is even better than the first, mainly because this time, it is a lot more personal than the first book. In ‘Fated’ Alex and his friend Luna were being targeted, but most of that was just because of chance and bad luck. This time though people are going after Arachne, one of Alex’s oldest and closet friends. She also happens to be a giant spider, but unlike Shelob in The Two Towers, she’s much more content weaving clothes and dishing out advice, while also catching up on the gossip. She is also an incredibly powerful magical creature in her own right, power which via a process called Harvesting, can be taken from her leaving her dead.
The entire book is centred around stopping that horrid fate from taking place, but it does so with an interesting set of characters and new magical power being introduced. Sonder from ‘Fated’ is back, with more of his powers as a Time Mage explored; Meredith is introduced as the Enchantress whose powers are subtle and dangerous. Alex also has to deal with Cinder and Deleo, who make a return as well, and deal with trying to decide if they are his enemy or not as he tries to protect everyone and save Arachne.
The other great thing about the book, is Verus’ shift in his relationship with Luna. The book is also a journey about how he needs to decide about how to view her. He has many conflicts, as to whether to see her as a friend, an apprentice or a potential girlfriend. His confusion as he tries to do all three conflicts with his attempts to help her control her curse.
Add in idiot Martin, who is involved with Luna and the lure of the powerful ‘Monkey’s Paw’ which has the ability to gain wishes, with potentially powerful consequences and you have all the ingredients you need for a fabulous fast-paced adventure, which is even better than the first.
You might also like my other reviews of Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus Series.