By Thomas Wheeler
Published October 1, 2019 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Whosoever wields the Sword of Power shall be the one true King.
But what if the Sword has chosen a Queen?
Nimue grew up an outcast. Her connection to dark magic made her something to be feared in her Druid village, and that made her desperate to leave…
That is, until her entire village is slaughtered by Red Paladins, and Nimue’s fate is forever altered. Charged by her dying mother to reunite an ancient sword with a legendary sorcerer, Nimue is now her people’s only hope. Her mission leaves little room for revenge, but the growing power within her can think of little else.
Nimue teams up with a charming mercenary named Arthur and refugee Fey Folk from across England. She wields a sword meant for the one true king, battling paladins and the armies of a corrupt king. She struggles to unite her people, avenge her family, and discover the truth about her destiny.
But perhaps the one thing that can change Destiny itself is found at the edge of a blade.
I went into Cursed with some trepidation. I’m mildly obsessed with the Arthurian legends, so I have a high bar for retellings. And Cursed is going to be a Netflix series, which is already in production before the book is released, so I was a bit worried this would be just a novelization of the show. But I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.
Cursed is a very loose retelling of the Arthurian legends. There are characters named Arthur, Nimue, Lancelot, and Merlin, but these versions are far from the originals that we know from the legends. The story centers on Nimue, a young fae girl whose village is destroyed by the Red Paladin, monks who are on a mission to destroy the fae people. She escapes with a sword and tries to follow her druid mother’s dying order, which was to take the sword to Merlin. She joins forces with Arthur, a young mercenary, and they soon find themselves pursued on all sides by people who want to the sword.
Cursed is a fun, fast-paced story, with a memorable main character. Nimue is very different than in the the original legends. She witnesses the massacre of her village, and she’s filled with survivor’s guilt and a thirst for revenge. She’s thrust into a situation she never wanted and she’s forced to grow up quickly. If you’re an Arthurian purist, you may not enjoy this book, because Arthur is not the star of the show, but I definitely recommend it.
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.