Following on from Marked, the second instalment of the Soulseer Chronicles continues the adventures of Lucky de Salle, who went the first 25 years of her life believing herself to be an ordinary human who just happened to be able to see ghosts, before travelling to the mystical Underlands and discovering she’s actually a daemon princess and also possibly the Soulseer of legend. When her daemon sister Kayla is kidnapped by a death cult, Lucky and her entourage set out to rescue her, and along the way she begins to gradually learn precisely what being the Soulseer actually means.
The second book in a fantasy series has the potential to be more satisfying than the first; with backstory and scene setting all out of the way, the author is freed to delve deeper into their created world, without having to worry about getting readers up to speed with its intricacies. Cursed, however, doesn’t take advantage of this and, as it consists largely of a rescue mission plot, the series’ overall development mostly stagnates. The sisterly relationship between Lucky and Kayla, damaged by the latter’s lifelong lies, was one of the most interesting things about Marked, and now that things had reached a point where they could figure out what they now meant to each other, Kayla’s absence is felt in a frustrating rather than dramatic way, as her abduction takes her out of much of the story.
The undercurrent of romance is still there and once again avoids the pitfalls common to love triangle subplots. Rather than Lucky being unable to choose between her suitors, she simply ignores the issue due to more pressing concerns. With Jamie the angelic Guardian and Jinx the demonic Deathbringer both vying for her affections, the fact that both of them are supreme badasses yet also emotionally sensitive, makes them equally appealing and means that the side you’ll fall on depends whether you prefer your fantasy men to be noble and brooding or wicked and mischievous.
Lucky’s royal status again puts her in the way of power struggles between ruthless and brutal daemon lords, and reminds us of the difference between the general populace of the Underlands and the decadent sadism of its rulers. While the story allows us to accept that not all daemons are bloodthirsty psychopaths, it would have helped if we were able to get a proper feel for just how common or unusual such casual violence is supposed to be.
Now that events have calmed down a little for Lucky, hopefully book three of the Soulseer Chronicles will take us further into the Underlands, to experience the stories hidden there.
CURSED / AUTHOR: SUE TINGEY / PUBLISHER: JO FLETCHER BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW