{Review} THE CURSE GIRL by Kate Avery Ellison

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I did a really fun interview with author Kate Avery Ellison last  year during FTF about THE CURSE GIRL.

I've also featured an interview with Kate about OF SEA AND STONE, along with an excerpt, and always love chatting with her! I was so glad to finally have time to read THE CURSE GIRL for this year's event!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

   MY FATHER DROVE ME through the woods in his truck, the wheels shuddering over the dirt road while the air hummed with all the unspoken words between us. The tears wriggled down his wrinkled cheeks only to get lost in his beard. The mark on his wrist burned at the edge of my peripheral vision, as if it were glowing.
   I sat silent and immobile, a statue, a paper doll, a frozen thing of stone. When we reached the gate I drew one shuddering breath and let it out, and my father put his hand on my shoulder. His fingers dug into my skin.
   "He promised he wouldn't hurt you, Bee. He promised."
   I shifted. His hand fell limply on the seat between us. He didn't try to touch me again.
   Dad turned off the engine and we sat wrapped in the silence. I hear him swallow hard. I slid my fingers up and down the strap of my backpack. My mouth tasted like dust. The car smelled like old leather and fresh terror.



I should tell you up front: I have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast retellings. (There are also several new versions out right now, several of which will be featured during FTF!) I've read so many versions now, some more alike than others. THE CURSE GIRL was different enough to suck me in from page one. It started with our Beauty arriving at the house. No long-winded backstory/lead-up here. Bee doesn't want to be doing this and is less willing than other Beautys have been to save her father.

Oh, yeah, and ATMOSPHERE. You can tell from the above hook that there's atmosphere. In fact, within reading that first page, I was already on Goodreads quoting, because, really? The car smelled like old leather and fresh terror. How awesome is that line? I'm reminded of the way Jane Nickerson uses atmosphere so effectively in STRANDS OF BRONZE AND GOLD, which I've reviewed previously for FTF. If you're a fan of Nickerson, you'll appreciate Ellison as well. There's a lovely creepy chill to everything, and it sucked me into the story right away. Another good comparison comes if you've seen the 1946 Jean Cocteau version of La Belle et la Bête (Which can often be found airing on TCM or purchased from the Criterion Collection...with English subtitles, of course!). The rooms are haunting and different from anything visual you can imagine, being an enchanted house. The rooms are just as dark and eerie in THE CURSE GIRL. There's even a room called the Hall of Regret and another called the Labyrinth. Things are constantly shifting and changing, with a mind of their own. It's really hard to explain the atmosphere and mood well, but you'll understand once you start reading!

Need even more motivation? Check out this description of our main character, who doesn't look a thing like you--or Bee--expect!


   He was nothing like what I'd expected.
   For one thing, he wasn't very tall. No scales or fur, either, or sharp jagged teeth to eat me with. He was just a guy. Black, thick hair fell into his eyes, which were a shocking blue. He might have been handsome once, but a long white scar split his eyebrow and ran across his left cheek, marring his otherwise pristine appearance. His lips were thin and pressed together tightly, as if in disgust. I immediately got the impression of rich, spoiled, would-barely-glance-at-me type.
   And he was young. He couldn't be much older than me, which didn't make sense. the legend was from a time before my grandmother. I didn't understand.
(pg. 45, US e-book edition)



In this retelling, Bee's father is incredibly selfish, and his motivations for dumping his daughter with a vicious beast aren't pure. Bee is less than thrilled with the situation, especially because of how horrible the house's owner Will is. Will and his sister Rose are trapped in the house they grew up in along with their servants with no way to escape. She's also not the only prisoner the house has taken captive. The curse mentioned "a girl called Beauty," but Will arrogant tells Bee that he always assumed that meant it would be broken by "a beautiful girl," not a girl actually named Beauty. Everyone refers to Bee as The Curse Girl, and she doesn't understand. Why are people called by titles and not names? The Curse Girl. Housekeeper. Butler. Locke (A man with keys for fingers).  But the more digging she does in an attempt to unravel the curse and be free of this suffocating house, the further she grows attached to its inhabitants. What's a girl to do when she had two goals/wishes taking her in opposing directions?

If you're a fan of Beauty and the Beast or fairy tale retellings with different twists that are compelling in new, innovative ways, check out THE CURSE GIRL by Kate Avery Ellison. The book is available to order in paperback, but it's also a steal if you read digitally: The ebook is only $2.99! Forgo the coffee for a day and buy this book! You can read it while you drink your coffee tomorrow. ^.~ 
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C O N T E N T R A T I N G S

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG  ( Kissing scene!!! No sexual innuendo )
Language: PG  ( I don't recall anything, at least!! )
Violence: PG ( Climax may be scary for younger readers )
Other: --  
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C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I Love the way her hair is floating above her head and going off the cover of the book. I also like the magical dust around the title hint at magic. And I love the swirly effect added to the C and G to create something fun and intriguing to look at!
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O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Title: THE CURSE GIRL
Author: Kate Avery Ellison
Release Date: May 14, 2011
Publisher: Kate Avery Ellison
Received: Purchased!

SUMMARY:

When Bee is imprisoned in a magical, cursed house because of her father's selfish choices, she has just one plan... escape! But she must solve a riddle and help her fellow prisoners break the curse that binds them all before she can leave, and that is proving more difficult than she originally thought thanks to the bitter young master of the house, Will.

Will wants nothing to do with Bee or her help (and he certainly isn't planning on falling in love with her), but he might have underestimated just how determined and clever--and irresistible--she can be.



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