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Review: How to Break an Evil Curse by Laura Morrison

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HOW TO BREAK AN EVIL CURSE
Chronicles of Fritillary, Book 1
by Laura Morrison
Black Spot Books
YA Fantasy
410 pages
 

Princess Julianna may be cursed to dwell in darkness, but she’s no damsel in distress.

How to Break an Evil Curse is the first book in a fantasy series about a princess who may be cursed to live in darkness, but refuses to let her curse define her life.

The King of the Land of Fritillary has incurred the wrath of his ex-bestie, the evil wizard Farland Phelps. Farland curses the King’s firstborn to die if touched by sunlight, and just like that, Julianna must spend her life in the depths of a castle dungeon (emptied of prisoners and redecorated in the latest fashion, of course). A young woman of infinite resourcefulness, all she needs is a serving spoon, a loose rock in the wall, and eight years of digging, and Julianna is free to explore the city—just not while the sun is out!

Warren Kensington is a member of a seafaring traveling theater troupe and the unwitting magical cure to the curse. When the pirate ship he’s sailing on is damaged in stormy seas, he goes ashore and bumps into Julianna on the streets of the capitol. The pair accidentally set in motion a chain of events that uncovers Farland’s plans to take over the throne. Julianna, Warren, and some friends they meet along the way are the only ones who can save the monarchy.

But the farther they go along their increasingly ludicrous journey, and the more citizens they meet, the more Julianna wonders whether her dad’s throne is worth saving. From an evil and greedy wizard? Well, sure. But from the people of Fritillary who are trying to spark a revolution? The people suffering in poverty, malnutrition, and other forms of medieval-esque peasant hardship? It doesn’t take Julianna long to find that the real world is far more complicated than a black-and-white fairytale.
MY TIDBITS
I’m just going to start off that this book has simply been marketed wrong. The blurb create the impression that it’s a dark fantasy and the supposed genre shelf its been shoved into, steer very much into this direction. However, this book is more like a fractured fairy tale with tons of snark and a good dose of humor. When read with that in mind, it’s a good read.
Reminding a bit of The Princess Bride type of humor, this is an intriguing read which mixes a fun plot and with all sorts of adventure.
Princess Julianna was cursed before birth to never get even a tiny sliver of sunlight or fall over dead instantly. Determined to keep her alive, the King and Queen (her parents) let her grown up in what was once the castle’s dungeons, where even after renovation still carry the costs of those who perished there. But those become her friends. As she tries to escape and find freedom, runs into Warren, a sea-faring lad, and together they uncover an evil plot to take over the kingdom. But as they try to stop the horrible sorcerer, Julianna learns how bad a King her father might really be.
This tale surprised me. While I was sure this would make a perfect dark read for October, it was simply a fun, humorous adventure. The entire tale does hold heart and high stakes and action packed moments, but it carries tons of quirkiness and humor and simple snark. A lot of this is thanks to the odd narrator, who constantly jabs in phrases here and there to keep things off-balance. Then, there’s the ridiculous footnotes, which pepper the pages, and offer eyebrow raising, snort worthy comments. It’s cute, it’s silly and it’s really a fun read.
The only thing I didn’t really like was the plot layout and pacing. Especially the beginning jumped around between time frames, scenes and characters, causing a pause each time to figure out where and who and what was happening. It does slide together, but not without hiccups. And I found myself skipping over paragraphs and not feeling as if I missed anything. It was almost as if the humor was there for the humor itself. Which isn’t bad, either. It’s just not my kind of read, necessarily. But it is well done for the right mood. I was just expecting something dark and really had trouble getting past that (thanks to the wrong direction I picked this book up with).
But it is a decent read. And anyone who loved The Princess Bride and is ready for a silly tale with a somewhat similar atmosphere will enjoy this one. It’s quite clever and definitely a breath of fresh air.
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