Cursed is a standalone novel by Jennifer L Armentrout, the same author who gave us the Lux and Covenant series. Her main character is Ember McWilliams who, after a fatal car accident claimed the life of her father and left her for dead, was brought back to life by her younger sister Olivia.
Now, Ember has a no touch policy since anything she touches, people, plants, animals, dies. Ember is also something of a social pariah now with everyone thinking she’s a freak because of her eye color that resembles the sky on an overcast day. It’s too bad that this really does in fact happen in real life. People just can’t understand change and treat those who do change like Ember as outcasts.
Things change suddenly for Ember and Olivia when Hayden Cromwell shows up and tells her that she’s got a gift, not a curse and has been watching her for the past 2 years to ensure she didn’t cross the line and kill anyone. Of course, Olivia, rather than Ember, is the main concern of all parties involved here since hers is the gift of life itself. Ember has been the sole supporter of Olivia for the past 2 years since her mother checked out of reality after her husband’s death. *There's actually more to this than I'm saying, but, I rather keep the spoilers out of this review*
After being knocked unconscious, Ember wakes up to find that she’s no longer in Kansas, and has been forcibly moved to a new home where those who live there hate her because of her ability. In reality, she has no rights, and no way to leave. Had it not been for her sister, I fully believe that Ember would have done anything she could to escape from her situation.
I would definitely compare Ember’s new home in West Virginia to the X-Men, and Jonathan Cromwell to Charles Xavier. Xavier collected those who were gifted and brought them into his home, and his school to train them to use their gifts correctly and responsibly. Ember could be compared to Rogue in that she wears gloves all the time, and her touch is deadly. She longs to be normal, and is willing to do whatever Hayden asks of her in order to touch her sister again.
Ember is the only other person in the house who was not born with a gift. She was given the gift after Olivia brought her back to life. Hayden ends up being the only person in the entire house who doesn’t believe that Ember’s new powers are a curse. Once again, Ember is treated like the wicked step child nobody wants by everyone in the house.
Ember goes through an awful lot over the course of this novel. She goes from being the lone supporter of her sister, to trying to remain alive and away from the Facility which gathers problem characters like moss to a stone. She’s treated like a pariah time and time again, and somehow is able to hold onto her emotions and not let it run out of control because she knows that Olivia needs her. When the villain comes after her, it’s only because of her abilities, and not anything she’s done wrong. Ember never wanted this so called gift and now that she’s stuck with it, she feels like it’s caused her nothing but problems.
She does allow herself to be controlled by her emotions toward Hayden. Hayden the character who comes along and helps take her away from her home and her best friend Adam. Hayden who is able to drain her abilities like it was water from the tap. Hayden who falls madly and deeply in love with Ember because he truly believes she’s good at heart and soul. Hayden who has more than a few secrets of his own that he's tried hiding from everyone.
The romance between Hayden and Ember is a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s like watching two gladiators fighting in a coliseum until they both realize they are better off together than apart. I really wish there had been more information offered up on the Facility and the revelation about her mother and father’s role in gathering children. I realize that I am barking up the wrong tree in this regards, but I’m a believer that having them come for Ember would have made this book even more interesting in the end.
Overall, Cursed is a decent enough story, with some really interesting secondary characters like Parker, Phoebe, Liz and Mr. Theo. I would have liked to see more action, although it's not for lacking in the story. Fans of Armentrout will likely flock like doves to this book to find out if it's anything like her Lux or Convenant series.
Title - Cursed
Author - Jennifer L Armentrout
Publisher - Spencer Hill Press
Releases - September 18, 2012